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Daily News Blog

16
Dec

Group Plans to Sue Agencies over Threatened Amphibian

(Beyond Pesticides, December 16, 2010)The Center for Biological Diversity notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) December 15 of its intent to sue the agencies for failing to study and act on threats posed by more than 60 pesticides to the threatened California red-legged frog. A 2006 legal settlement secured by the Center required the EPA to assess the impacts of pesticides on the frog, then consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) under the Endangered Species Act to address those impacts, by 2009. The completed assessments were submitted to the Wildlife Service between March 2007 and October 2009. Although EPA determined that 64 registered pesticides are likely to harm the frogs, the Service has not completed any consultations or adopted protective measures.

“The EPA acknowledges that scores of pesticides may be dangerous to California’s rare red-legged frogs, but nothing’s been done about it,” said Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate with the Center. “This three-year delay violates the Endangered Species Act and jeopardizes the future of the largest native frog in California.”

Historically abundant throughout California, red-legged frogs have declined in numbers over 90 percent and have disappeared from 70 percent of their former range. Studies implicate pesticide drift from the Central Valley in disproportional declines of several native frog species in the Sierra Nevada, including red-legged frogs. USFWS has noted that the percentage of upwind land in agricultural production is 6.5 times greater for Sierra Nevada and Central Valley sites where red-legged frogs have disappeared than for sites where frogs still live. Amphibians are declining at alarming rates across the globe, and many scientists believe that industrial chemicals and pesticides may be partially to blame.

Overall, more than 200 million pounds of pesticides are applied each year in California; for most of these chemicals, the EPA has failed to consult with the USFWS to determine impacts on endangered species. The Endangered Species Act requires the EPA to consult with endangered species experts to determine how pesticides affect species and their critical habitats. The Center and other groups have filed a series of lawsuits forcing such consultations, primarily in California, and put in place interim restrictions on pesticide use in and near endangered species habitats.

Amphibians are declining at alarming rates around the globe, and scientists believe industrial chemicals and pesticides may be partly to blame. Numerous studies have definitively linked pesticide use with significant effects on amphibians: Pesticides can cause abnormalities, diseases, injury and death in these frogs and other amphibians. Because amphibians breathe through their permeable skin, they are especially vulnerable to chemical contamination. Frog eggs float exposed on the water surface, where pesticides tend to concentrate, and hatched larvae live solely in aquatic environments for five to seven months before they metamorphose, so agricultural pesticides introduced into wetlands, ponds and streams are particularly harmful. Many of the pesticides that pose a threat to the frog are also known to be harmful to human health.

“Because they’re so sensitive to chemical contaminants, frogs are an important barometer for the health of our aquatic ecosystems,” said Mr. Miller. “Ultimately, pesticides found in the red-legged frog’s critical habitat can also contaminate our drinking water, food, homes and schools, posing a disturbing health risk.”

Background
Formal consultations between the EPA and the Fish and Wildlife Service are designed to ensure that the agency avoids authorizing pesticide uses that jeopardize endangered species. At the completion of consultation, the Service issues a “biological opinion” that determines if the agency action, in this case registration of a pesticide, is likely to jeopardize listed species. The opinion may specify reasonable and prudent alternatives that will avoid jeopardy and may also suggest use restrictions to avoid adverse effects.

In 2002, the Center filed litigation challenging the EPA registration and reregistration of scores of the most toxic and persistent pesticides authorized for use in California, based on the risk they pose to the red-legged frog. A federal court found in 2005 that the EPA had violated the Endangered Species Act, and a 2006 settlement agreement prohibited the use of 66 harmful pesticides near core frog habitats until the EPA completed the required consultations with the Service.

EPA has since conducted “effects determinations” for all 66 pesticides. The registrations of two chemicals, Fenamiphos and Molinate, were subsequently cancelled. EPA determined that 64 other pesticides are “likely to adversely affect” or “may affect” the frog; and between 2007 and 2009 the agency began requesting formal consultations with the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service had 90 days to complete each review, but has failed to meet those deadlines.

The 64 pesticides that may pose risks to the frog are: 2,4-D, Acephate, Alachlor, Aldicarb, Atrazine, Azinphos methyl, Bensulide, Bromacil, Captan, Carbaryl, Chloropicrin, Chlorothalonil, Chlorpyrifos, DCPA, Diazinon, Dicofol, Diflubenzuron, Dimethoate, Disulfoton, Diuron, Endosulfan, EPTC, Esfenvalerate, Glyphosate, Hexazinone, Imazapyr, Iprodione, Linuron, Malathion, Mancozeb, Maneb, Metam sodium, Methamidiphos, Methidathion, Methomyl, Methoprene, Methyl parathion, Metolachlor, Myclobutanil, Naled, Norflurazon, Oryzalin, Oxamyl, Oxydemeton methyl, Oxyfluorfen, Paraquat, Pendimethalin, Permethrin, Phorate, Phosmet, Prometryn, Propanil, Propargite, Propyzamide, Rotenone, Simazine, Strychnine, Telone Thiobencarb, Tribufos, Triclopyr, Trifluralin, Vinclozolin and Ziram. For information on these chemicals, please see Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide Gateway page.

Source: Center for Biological Diversity Press Release

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15
Dec

Rat Poisons Continue to Threaten Children

(Beyond Pesticides, December 15, 2010) Every year, more than 10,000 kids are poisoned by rodenticides (pesticides made to kill rodents) and virtually all of the calls to U.S. poison control centers concern children under six. New rules and restrictions set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will go into effect next June in an attempt to prevent incidents involving children, but do not go far enough to protect children or wildlife.

EPA has known for a generation that children have easy access to these super-toxic rat poisons. Every year, more than 10,000 kids are getting a hold of them, with Black and Hispanic children living below the poverty line being disproportionately affected. Records show that the EPA is aware that children have been getting into these poisons in significant numbers, according to data since 1983. Between 2004 and 2008, U.S. poison control centers continued to receive 10,000 to 14,000 calls about the rat killers annually. EPA has estimated that these incidents reported to poison control centers probably account for only about one-fourth of all exposures. On average, about 3,700 of these cases are treated by medical professionals each year, according to reports of the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

EPA reported that these rat poisons “are, by far, the leading cause of [pesticide-related] visits to health care facilities in children under the age of six years and the second leading cause of hospitalization.” Poisoned children can suffer internal bleeding, coma, anemia, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, bloody urine and bloody stools.

Now, decades after these products were first introduced to the public, and 14 years after the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), which was designed to protect children from dangerous pesticide exposures, EPA is moving to curb widespread use of these rodenticides, starting June 2011. That move, however, could be short-circuited by a lawsuit filed by the multinational corporation that sells rodenticide products. Reckitt Benckiser, a multinational consumer-products marketer, filed suit in federal court to prevent EPA’s new rules from going into effect. The company says restrictions on use of rat poison likely will lead to “potentially significant public health consequences.” Pesticide manufacturers, applicators and health officials say controlling rats is an important public health goal because they can spread a number of diseases, including hemorrhagic fever, leptospirosis, salmonellosis and rat bite fever.

On May 29, 2008, EPA released its final risk mitigation decision for ten rodenticides, which outlines new measures it says will help protect children and the public from accidental poisonings as well as to decrease exposures to pets and wildlife from rodent-control products. This came after the Natural Resources Council (NRDC) and the West Harlem Environmental Action (WE ACT) filed a lawsuit in 2004 challenging EPA’s regulations. In 2005, a New York City’s federal court ruled that the EPA failed to protect children from exposure to chemical rat poisons, and failed to require chemical manufacturers to strengthen safeguards. (See Daily News, August 17, 2005.)

However environmentalists feel the final risk mitigation decision and new rules fall short of adequately protecting the health of people, wildlife and the environment. EPA is requiring that ten rodenticides: brodifacoum, bromadiolone, bromethalin, chlorophacinone, cholecalciferol, difenacoum, difethialone, diphacinone, warfarin, zinc phosphide, used in bait products marketed to consumers be enclosed in bait stations, making the pesticide inaccessible to children and pets, and is also prohibiting the sale of loose bait, such as pellets, for use in homes. The new rules are voluminous, but the basic changes are:

-Disallowing the sale of the highly toxic second-generation rat poisons at the retail level. Currently they are commonly sold at grocery, drug and hardware stores.
-Limiting the amount of bait that can be sold over the counter to no more than one pound, and only in bait stations designed to keep out kids and dogs.
-Allowing professional exterminators and employees of farms and businesses to continue to use the loose baits and the more-toxic rodenticides — but requiring them to be put onto above-ground locations where they cannot be disturbed by children, pets or wildlife. These baits also may not be placed more than 50 feet from a building.

EPA believes this will reduce the amount of product in the environment, providing additional protection for wildlife from poisonings by these more toxic and persistent products. However, many wildlife poisonings do not come from direct contact with the bait. These rodenticides have been involved with the poisonings of federally listed threatened and endangered species, for example the San Joaquin kit fox and Northern spotted owl. Poisonings occur when predators or scavengers feed on poisoned rodents eventually accumulating residues that may be many times the lethal dose.

There are several shortcomings to the new restrictions. Human and wildlife exposures to these toxic chemicals, though slightly minimized, would nevertheless continue because of their continued availability for use in agricultural production and to pest control operators. Pest control operators will still be allowed to use these chemicals in homes, at their discretion, which means residential exposures continue, albeit at slightly lower levels. These measures also do not apply to rodenticide field uses, or to tracking powder products, which may utilize any of the ten rodenticides, and thus continue to impact residential consumers and non-target wildlife.

Beyond Pesticides believes that IPM is a vital tool that aids in the rediscovery of non-toxic methods to control rodents and facilitates the transition toward a pesticide-free (and healthier) world. Sanitation, structural repairs, mechanical and biological control, pest population monitoring are some IPM methods that can be undertaken to control rodents. For more information on IPM, contact Beyond Pesticides or visit our IPM program page and the brochure “The Safer Choice.“

To learn more about rodenticides, visit Beyond Pesticides’ Rodenticides fact sheet. For least toxic control of mice and other pests visit the alternatives page.

Source: Environmental Health News

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14
Dec

One Million Petition EU To Halt GM Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, December 14, 2010) A petition of more than a million signatures was presented to the European Commission last week, demanding a halt to approvals of new genetically modified (GM) crops and the establishment of up a new scientific body to study the impact of the technology and determine regulations. Greenpeace led the effort.

The petition is seen as a test case for the “European citizen’s initiative,” introduced under the European Union’s new constitutional treaty, which enables a million or more people to jointly ask the European Commission to change EU legislation. It follows the Commission’s decision in March to grant the first EU GM cultivation approval in 12 years for the “Amflora” potato.

“Over a million people across Europe have set the EU a democratic test — will the EU address the real concern people have about GM crops and food, or will it side with the chemical industry lobbyists controlling GM technology?” Greenpeace’s EU Director Jorgo Riss said. “Until safety issues of GMs are examined by independent experts, all GM authorizations should stop.”

A spokesman for the EU executive said it would treat the signatures “as a petition in the spirit of the citizen’s initiative,” Despite the fact that rules governing the Citizens’ Initiative are not expected to be finalized until next year. John Dalli, the EU Commissioner responsible for GM policy, said, “I am committed to look seriously at the request made through this initiative.”

GM crops are one of the most controversial areas of EU policy, with widespread public opposition to the technology in most EU countries. Earlier this year, the Commission proposed an overhaul of EU rules on GM cultivation, which would let governments decide individually whether or not to grow the technology, and Commissioner Dalli pledged to press ahead with EU approvals while the plans are discussed.

GM crops are genetically engineered to be resistant to pests and pesticides, whether by the incorporation into food crops of genes from a natural bacterium (Bt) or the development of a herbicide-resistant crops. However, there are serious public health and pest resistance problems associated with GM crops. A recent study by University of Notre Dame scientists found that streams throughout the Midwest are contaminated with GM materials from corn crop byproducts, even six months after harvest. GM crops are already known to contaminate conventional non-GM and organic crops through “genetic drift” and take a toll on the environment by increasing resistant insects and weeds, contaminating water and affecting pollinators and other non-target organisms. The long-term health effects of consuming GM food are still unknown. GM crops present a unique risk to organic growers. Wind-pollinated and bee-pollinated crops, such as corn and alfalfa, have higher risks of cross pollination between GM crops and unmodified varieties. Other reports find that the rapid adoption by U.S. farmers of genetically modified corn, soybeans and cotton has promoted increased use of pesticides, an epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds, and more chemical residues in foods.

Beyond Pesticides’ goal is to push for labeling as a means of identifying products that contain GM ingredients, seek to educate on the public health and environmental consequences of this technology and generate support for sound ecological-based management systems such as organic agriculture. Organic agriculture does not permit GM crops or the use of synthetic herbicides, and focuses on building the soil—minimizing its effect on climate change.

For more information on GM crops please see Beyond Pesticides page on Genetic Engineering.

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13
Dec

EPA Announces Bed Bug Summit, Seeks Public Participation

(Beyond Pesticides, December 13, 2010) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that a national summit on bed bugs will be held by the Federal Bed Bug Workgroup on February 1-2, 2011 in Washington, DC. The public is invited to the summit to learn and discuss ways to solve the bed bug problem that is sweeping the country. It is the second such summit organized by the EPA, the last having been held in April 2009 (see summit recommendations), seeking input from scientists, regulators, and professionals in addition to the public as to how best to confront the issue. One of the recommendations from the first summit, that an interagency federal task force be created, led to the formation of the Federal Bed Bug Workgroup as a collaboration between the EPA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, and National Institutes of Health.

Bed bugs have recently begun to spread rapidly throughout the country, due in part to global travel and increased resistance to pesticides, and have reached levels not seen since the end of World War II. This resurgence, coupled with the bugs’ adapted resistance to common treatments such as pyrethroids, has led to widespread public anxiety and drastic attempts to stem their spread through various means. Often these attempts have included the use of highly toxic and harmful chemicals. For example, in 2009, the State of Ohio, dealing with infestation in several major cities, petitioned the EPA to approve the indoor use of the pesticide propoxur, which the agency considers a probable carcinogen and banned for in-home use in 2007, due to concerns posed to children. About 25 other states supported Ohio’s request for an emergency exemption. In comments to the agency objecting to the petition for propoxur, Beyond Pesticides and other environmental and public health advocates urged the agency to reject the request, citing the serious public health threat associated with the chemical, as well as the availability of alternatives. EPA rejected Ohio’s petition in June.

Efforts which use chemicals such as these are unnecessary and can actually cause more harm than the bed bugs themselves. It should be emphasized: Bed bugs do not transmit disease and can be controlled. The EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have put together a joint statement on bed bug control which provides background information on the recent rise in bed bug problems, discusses the public health implications of bed bug infestations, and stresses the importance of controlling them with an integrated approach. They are of course a cause for concern and a nuisance, but they can be effectively eliminated through a range of non-hazardous practices that do not put you and your family at risk. These techniques, which can be found on the Beyond Pesticides’ bed bug page, include:

Ӣ Caulk and seal crevices. Prevent bed bugs from entering your home.
Ӣ Eliminate clutter. Getting rid of as much clutter as possible will help you locate and eliminate infestations.
Ӣ Vacuum. This will only remove visible bed bugs, but is important to get rid of dead bed bugs and their frass. Use a stiff brush to dislodge eggs in cracks and crevices and use a vacuum attachment that does not have bristles to get into the corners. Be sure to discard the bag immediately after vacuuming.
Ӣ Launder Fabrics and Clothing. Wash and dry clothing for 30 minutes or a full cycle at the hottest setting the fabric will allow. Dry clean only clothes can simply be put into the dryer. If the fabric is too delicate for the hottest temperature, place it on a lower heat setting and let it run for the full cycle.
Ӣ Encase mattresses and box springs. Make sure the encasement has been tested for bed bugs and will not rip and does not contain synthetic pesticides impregnated in the material. It will eventually kill all bed bugs inside.
”¢ Steam Treatment. Steam treatment will kill all stages of bedbugs. Move the nozzle over the bed bugs at a rate of 20 seconds per linear foot, and wrap a piece of fabric over the upholstery nozzle to reduce water pressure to make sure bed bugs don’t blow away. Many pest control companies provide this option, but you may have to ask for it.
Ӣ Heat Treatment. Heat, either blown with a fan or ambient, can provide complete control of bed bugs, if all areas of infestation reach 120 degrees F.

Additionally, EPA has created a website which emphasizes an integrated pest management approach to controlling bed bugs.

Experts say it is going to take a comprehensive public health campaign ”” public-service announcements, travel tips and perhaps even taxpayer-funded extermination programs for public housing ”” to reduce the bedbug problem. People can get bedbugs by visiting infested homes or hotels, where the vermin hide in mattresses, pillows and curtains. The bugs are stealth hitchhikers that climb onto bags, clothing and luggage.

For more information, see our program page and read our factsheet, “Got Bed Bugs? Don’t Panic.”

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10
Dec

EPA Publishes Petition to Ban Triclosan, Opens Public Comment

(Beyond Pesticides, December 10, 2010) Announcing a 60-day public comment period, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday published in the Federal Register a petition filed by 82 public health and environmental groups, led by Beyond Pesticides and Food and Water Watch, to ban the controversial antimicrobial/antibacterial pesticide triclosan, found in products from clothing to soaps, for non-medical use. The Federal Register notice (Petition for a Ban on Triclosan, 75 FR 76461, December 8, 2010) invites the public to comment until February 7, 2011 on the need to ban triclosan under numerous federal statutes.

The petition, filed on January 14, 2010, identifies pervasive and widespread use of triclosan and a failure of EPA to: (i) address the impacts posed by triclosan’s degradation products on human health and the environment, (ii) conduct separate assessment for triclosan residues in contaminated drinking water and food, and (iii) evaluate concerns related to antibacterial resistance and endocrine disruption. The petition cites violations of numerous environmental statutes, including laws on pesticide registration, the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. It also documents that triclosan is no more effective than regular soap and water in removing germs and therefore creates an unnecessary hazardous exposure for people and the environment.

Regulated by both EPA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, triclosan is commonly found in clothing, toys, kitchen utensils and cutting boards, hair brushes, computer keyboards, countertops, plastics, facial tissues, hand soaps, cosmetics, toothpastes, deodorants, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, antiseptics, and medical devices. The petition to EPA seeks expedited action to ban household triclosan, challenging serious deficiencies in EPA’s September 2008 re-registration of triclosan and its failure to comply with safety laws.

Research indicates that widespread use of triclosan causes a number of serious health and environmental problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds in its 2009 report, National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, and 2010 update that triclosan is in the bodies of 75% of the U.S. population and its levels are increasing. A critical health concern is triclosan’s association with bacterial resistance to antibiotic medications and cleansers, a special problem for vulnerable populations such as infants, patients, and the elderly. Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor and has been shown to affect male and female reproductive hormones, which potentially increases cancer risk. Recent studies show triclosan’s adverse effects on fetal growth and development. Further, the pesticide accumulates in biosolids, is taken up by food crops, and breaks down to different forms of dioxin, thereby exposing consumers to even more dangerous chemicals.

“We’re calling on the public to urge EPA to consider the full extent of triclosan’s impact on people’s health and the environment and ban its non-medical uses,” said Jay Feldman executive director of Beyond Pesticides.

For more information, go to: Federal Register notice and see Beyond Pesticide’s triclosan page.

TAKE ACTION: Tell EPA to protect public health and the environment from the serious and long-lasting impacts of the continued and unnecessary use of triclosan. Submit electronic comments to the FDA at www.regulation.gov using docket number: EPA—HQ—OPP—2010—0548. Comments must be submitted by February 7, 2010.

Join the ban triclosan campaign and sign the pledge to stop using triclosan today. Avoid products containing triclosan, and encourage your local schools, government agencies, and local businesses to use their buying power to go triclosan-free. Urge your municipality, institution or company to adopt the model resolution which commits to not procuring or using products containing triclosan.

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09
Dec

EPA Asked to Pull Pesticide Linked to Bee Kills

(Beyond Pesticides, December 9, 2010) Beekeepers and environmentalists called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) December 8, to remove a pesticide linked to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), citing a leaked EPA memo that discloses a critically flawed scientific support study. The November 2nd memo identifies a core study underpinning the registration of the insecticide clothianidin as unsound after EPA quietly re-evaluated the pesticide just as it was getting ready to allow a further expansion of its use. Clothianidin (product name “Poncho”) has been widely used as a seed treatment on many of the country’s major crops for eight growing seasons under a “conditional registration” granted while EPA waited for Bayer Crop Science, the pesticide’s maker, to conduct a field study assessing the insecticide’s threat to bee colony health.

Bayer’s field study was the contingency on which clothianidin’s conditional registration was granted in 2003. As such, the groups are calling for an immediate stop-use order on the pesticide while the science is redone, and redesigned in partnership with practicing beekeepers. They claim that the initial field study guidelines, which the Bayer study failed to satisfy, were insufficiently rigorous to test whether or not clothianidin contributes to CCD in a real-world scenario: the field test evaluated the wrong crop, over an insufficient time period and with inadequate controls.

According to beekeeper Jeff Anderson, who has testified before EPA on the topic, “The Bayer study is fatally flawed. It was an open field study with control and test plots of about 2 acres each. Bees typically forage at least 2 miles out from the hive, so it is likely they didn’t ingest much of the treated crops. And corn, not canola, is the major pollen-producing crop that bees rely on for winter nutrition. This is a critical point because we see hive losses mainly after over-wintering, so there is something going on in these winter cycles. It’s as if they designed the study to avoid seeing clothianidin’s effects on hive health.”

Clothianidin is of the neonicotinoid family of systemic pesticides, which are taken up by a plant’s vascular system and expressed through pollen, nectar and gutation droplets from which bees then forage and drink. Scientists are concerned about the mix and cumulative effects of the multiple pesticides bees are exposed to in these ways. Neonicotinoids are of particular concern because they have cumulative, sublethal effects on insect pollinators that correspond to CCD symptoms — namely, neurobehavioral and immune system disruptions.

According to James Frazier, PhD., professor of entomology at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, “Among the neonicotinoids, clothianidin is among those most toxic for honey bees; and this combined with its systemic movement in plants has produced a troubling mix of scientific results pointing to its potential risk for honey bees through current agricultural practices. Our own research indicates that systemic pesticides occur in pollen and nectar in much greater quantities than has been previously thought, and that interactions among pesticides occurs often and should be of wide concern.” Dr. Frazier said that the most prudent course of action would be to take the pesticide off the market while the flawed study is being redone.

Clothianidin has been on the market since 2003. With a soil half-life of up to 19 years in heavy soils, and over a year in the lightest of soils, commercial beekeepers are concerned that even an immediate stop-use of clothianidin won’t save their livelihoods or hives in time.

“We are losing more than a third of our colonies each winter; but beekeepers are a stubborn, industrious bunch. We split hives, rebound as much as we can each summer, and then just take it on the chin — eat our losses. So even these big loss numbers understate the problem,” says 50-year beekeeper, David Hackenberg. “What folks need to understand is that the beekeeping industry, which is responsible for a third of the food we all eat, is at a critical threshold for economic reasons and reasons to do with bee population dynamics. Our bees are living for 30 days instead of 42, nursing bees are having to forage because there aren’t enough foragers and at a certain point a colony just doesn’t have the critical mass to keep going. The bees are at that point, and we are at that point. We are losing our livelihoods at a time when there just isn’t other work. Another winter of ‘more studies are needed’ so Bayer can keep their blockbuster products on the market and EPA can avoid a difficult decision, is unacceptable.”

Citing the imminent economic and environmental hazards posed by the continued use of clothianidin, the National Honey Bee Advisory Board, Beekeeping Federation, Beyond Pesticides, Pesticide Action Network, North America and Center for Biological Diversity are asking EPA administrator Lisa Jackson to exercise the Agency’s emergency powers to take the pesticide off the market.

“The environment has become the experiment and all of us — not just bees and beekeepers — have become the experimental subjects,” said Tom Theobald, a 35-year beekeeper. “In an apparent rush to get products to the market, chemicals have been routinely granted “conditional” registrations. Of 94 pesticide active ingredients released since 1997, 70% have been given conditional registrations, with unanswered questions of unknown magnitude. In the case of clothianidin those questions were huge. The EPA’s basic charge is “the prevention of unreasonable risk to man and the environment” and these practices hardly satisfy that obligation. We must do better, there is too much at stake.”

TAKE ACTION: Tell Administrator Lisa Jackson to ban the pesticide clothianidin. For ideas on what to write, see our Letter to the EPA. You can email her directly here: [email protected] . Be sure to also send a copy (CC) to Steve Owens, [email protected] and Steve Bradbury, [email protected].

Additional Information:
Clothianidin & CCD Fact Sheet
Beyond Pesticides Pollinators Program Page

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08
Dec

Estrogenic Compounds in Water Come From Agricultural, Industrial Sources

(Beyond Pesticides, December 8, 2010) A new study finds that oral contraceptives are not the main culprit in estrogenic pollution of U.S. rivers and drinking water. Instead, the contribution of contraceptives is quite small compared to other human, industrial and agricultural sources, including pesticides.

Recent observed feminization of aquatic animals has raised concerns about estrogenic compounds in water supplies and the potential for these chemicals to reach drinking water. Public perception frequently attributes this feminization to oral contraceptives (OCs) in wastewater and raises concerns that exposure to OCs in drinking water may contribute to the recent rise in human reproductive problems.

Studies have suggested that long-term exposure to low levels of estrogens in water may adversely affect human health. This new information eases concerns that contraceptives are a major factor contributing to feminized fish and frogs. This study, “Are Oral Contraceptives a Significant Contributor to the Estrogenicity of Drinking Water?” reviews the literature regarding various sources of estrogens, in surface, source and drinking water, to determine whether OCs were the source of estrogen in surface waters, with an emphasis on the active molecule that comes from OCs. The authors find that industrial and agricultural sources not only discharge estrogens, but they also release other harmful chemicals, which can mimic estrogen. These compounds add to the overall estrogenic pollution of our water supplies. The study identifies pesticides as a contributing factor of estrogen in water. Several pesticides are known as xenoestrogens, which mimic estrogen and disrupt the endocrine system. Organochlorine pesticides, endosulfan, dieldrin and DDE (DDT metabolite) and others, have been shown to mimic estrogen affecting the immune system. Studies have shown that high concentrations of estrogens or estrogen-like substances during embryonic, fetal, and early postnatal development can lead to reproductive and developmental disorders, especially in males. Other pesticides like triclosan have been found to interfere with estrogen metabolism in women and can disrupt a vital enzyme during pregnancy.

Certain synthetic pyrethroids, one of the most widely used classes of pesticides, have also been found to demonstrate significant estrogenic activity and increase estrogen levels in the human body. The effects of estrogenic pesticides have been widely researched and have been identified as being responsible for prevalence of feminized fish and amphibians. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reports that pesticides are prevalent in surface waters across the U.S. Low levels of pesticides have also been detected in drinking water. According to a 2009 report from the USGS, the occurrence of “intersex” fish is now found to be nationwide.

The authors also found that other agricultural sources are important sources of estrogens in waterways because livestock produce 13 times more solid waste than humans. The animals can excrete both natural and pharmaceutical hormones. Water is also polluted with other human sources of estrogen chemicals, including natural hormones and other estrogen-containing prescription drugs, such as hormone replacement therapy.

The authors of the study note that future efforts to reduce the overall estrogenicity of water should take a broad approach to reducing the contribution from the multiple sources, particularly those that are unregulated or that are untreated. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has identified a list of chemicals that will be screened for their potential to disrupt the endocrine system, along with a draft of the policies and procedures that the agency has proposed to follow for testing. The agency is mandated to test chemicals for their potential to affect the hormone system. However, the agency has yet to finalize its procedures or officially test a chemical for endocrine disruption since tasked to do so in 1996by an Act of Congress.

For more information on Endocrine Disruptors, please see Beyond Pesticides’ Endocrine Disruption brochure.

Source: Environmental Health News

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07
Dec

Judge Orders Destruction of GE Sugar Beets

(Beyond Pesticides, December 7, 2010) Last week, Federal District Judge Jeffrey S. White issued a preliminary injunction ordering the immediate destruction of hundreds of acres of genetically engineered (GE) sugar beet seedlings planted in September after finding the seedlings had been planted in violation of federal law. The ruling comes in a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice and CFS on behalf of a coalition of farmers and conservation groups. The lawsuit was filed on September 9, shortly after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed it had allowed the seedlings to be planted.

The court outlined the many ways in which GE sugar beets could harm the environment and consumers, noting that containment efforts were insufficient and past contamination incidents were “too numerous” to allow the illegal crop to remain in the ground. In his court order, Judge White noted, “Farmers and consumers would likely suffer harm from cross-contamination” between GE sugar beets and non-GE crops. He continued, “The legality of Defendants’ conduct does not even appear to be a close question,” noting that the government and Monsanto had tried to circumvent his prior ruling which made GE sugar beets illegal.

Paul Achitoff of Earthjustice, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said, “USDA thumbed its nose at the judicial system and the public by allowing this crop to be grown without any environmental review. Herbicide resistant crops just like this have been shown to result in more toxic chemicals in our soil and water. USDA has shown no regard for the environmental laws, and we’re pleased that Judge White ordered the appropriate response.”

Plaintiff Center for Food Safety’s Senior Staff Attorney George Kimbrell said, “Today’s decision is a seminal victory for farmers and the environment and a vindication of the rule of law. The public interest has prevailed over USDA’s repeated efforts to implement the unlawful demands of the biotech industry.”

The plaintiffs-The Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and the Sierra Club-had immediately sought a court order to halt the planting. On September 28, Judge White ruled that USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by allowing the plantings without analyzing the potential environmental, health, and socioeconomic impacts of growing GE sugar beets. Judge White heard testimony from the parties during a three-day hearing in November before issuing today’s ruling.

Monsanto created “Roundup Ready” crops to withstand its Roundup herbicide (with the active ingredient glyphosate), which it then sells to farmers together with its patented seed, for which it charges farmers a substantial “technology fee.” Earlier this year, the Department of Justice announced it had opened a formal investigation into possible anticompetitive practices in Monsanto’s use of such patented crops. Growing previous Roundup Ready crops such as soy, cotton, and corn have led to greater use of herbicides. It also has led to the spread of herbicide resistant weeds on millions of acres throughout the United States and other countries where such crops are grown, and contamination of conventional and organic crops, which has been costly to U.S. farmers. There is also evidence that such herbicide-resistant crops may be more susceptible to serious plant diseases.

In an earlier case, the court ruled that USDA had violated NEPA by allowing the crop to be commercialized without first preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). In August, the court made any future planting and sale unlawful until USDA complies with federal law. (USDA has said it expects to complete an EIS in spring 2012.) But almost immediately after the ruling, USDA issued permits allowing companies to plant seedlings to produce seed for future Roundup Ready sugar beet crops, even though the crops are still illegal to grow, and no EIS has been prepared. The seed growers rushed to plant the seed crop in Oregon and Arizona, apparently hoping to outrun the legal action to stop it. In this latest case, USDA argued that the seedlings were separate from the rest of the sugar beet crop cycle and had no impact by themselves, but Judge White rejected this. He found that the law requires USDA to analyze the impacts of not only the seedlings, but the rest of the Roundup Ready sugar beet production process as well, before any part of that process can begin.

Courts have twice rescinded USDA’s approval of biotech crops. The first such crop, Roundup Ready alfalfa, is also illegal to plant, based on the vacating of its deregulation in 2007 pending preparation of an EIS. Although Monsanto appealed that case all the way to the Supreme Court and the High Court set aside part of the relief granted, the full prohibition on its planting – based on the same initial remedy granted here, the vacatur – remains in place.

Beyond Pesticides opposes the use of genetic engineering in agriculture because of the dangers it poses to human health and the environment. The widescale adoption of GE crops has lead to a marked increase in the use of pesticides, and emerging research has linked genetically modified crops to organ damage. All the while, these crops have failed in their promise to deliver a marked increase in yield. Currently, there are no regulations requiring GE foods to be labeled as such. The best way for consumers to avoid GE foods is to choose organic products. Organic agriculture embodies an ecological approach to farming that does not rely on or permit toxic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, genetically engineered organisms, antibiotics, sewage sludge, or irradiation. For more information on why organic agriculture is the best choice for you, farmworkers, and the environment see our Eating with a Conscience guide.

This case is Center for Food Safety v. Vilsack, No. C10-04038 JSW (N.D. Cal. 2010).

Source: Center for Food Safety Press Release

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06
Dec

Single Exposure to Dioxin Can Cause Problems for Future Generations

(Beyond Pesticides, December 6, 2010) A new study finds that exposure to dioxin in the womb can affect female reproduction for generations, reducing fertility and increasing the chance for premature delivery. Scientists from the Women’s Reproductive Health Research Center at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine examined the effects of a specific variety of dioxin on female mice and found that subsequent generations of the mice exposed to dioxin are at risk. The study, entitled “Developmental exposure to TCDD reduces fertility and negatively affects pregnancy outcomes across multiple generations,” was published in the journal Reproductive Toxicology.

Dioxin refers to a family of chemicals linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, weakened immune systems and reproductive problems. They are persistent organic pollutants that bioaccumulate in humans and other animals, especially in fatty tissue, meaning that concentrations of dioxin in the body generally increase with age. So, even in very low doses, dioxins can cause health problems.

Scientists in this study specifically looked at the variety of dioxin that is considered the most toxic, known as 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). TCDD is a well-known contaminant of the herbicide 2,4-D, which was originally a part of the deadly chemical weapon Agent Orange. As such, TCDD is still found in soil samples from Central Vietnam in levels that are 200 times what is considered “acceptable” to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The mice in the study were exposed either once, twice or three times to 10 micrograms of TCDD per kilogram (10 parts per billion). The fertility rates of these mice and their offspring were compared to that of unexposed mice. For the single exposure, pregnant female mice were fed the chemical on day 15.5 of pregnancy to expose the fetus. For animals treated twice, some of the females that were exposed in the womb were fed the chemical right before puberty at four weeks. For mice that were exposed three times, the females exposed in the womb and at four weeks were also fed the chemical at nine weeks, or right after puberty. Researchers then mated the exposed females at 10-12 weeks with normal male mice. If the females became pregnant, some of their female offspring were bred with normal males at age 10-12 weeks. This was repeated for four generations.

Researchers found that mice exposed to 10 micrograms per kilogram of TCDD while in the womb had reduced fertility rates. Only 44% of these mice were able to get pregnant and many of the pregnancies that did come to term were prematurely delivered with a high mortality rate. This pattern was repeated in subsequent generations (the “granddaughter” and “great-granddaughter” mice, if you will).

Not surprisingly, results were much bleaker for those mice that were exposed twice or three times. Only about 66% of the mice that were exposed twice became pregnant and only 29% of their female offspring could conceive, with effects repeating for three more generations. None of the mice that were exposed three times could conceive, compared to all of the unexposed control mice reproductive outcomes.

Source: Environmental Health News

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03
Dec

Corporate Pressure Defeats Science on Methyl Iodide

(Beyond Pesticides, December 3, 2010) Ignoring the assessments of top U.S. scientists and its own Scientific Review Committee, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced its approval on December 1, 2010 for use of methyl iodide, a potent carcinogen and water contaminant, as a fumigant in the state’s strawberry fields, nut orchards, and flower farms. The news comes one day after press events in eight California cities urging DPR to deny its approval, and after Washington State decided to not allow use of the chemical.”¨

Methyl iodide poses great risk to farmworkers and those who live near fields where it will be applied as well as to air and waterways, should it escape into the surrounding environment. It is on California’s official list of known carcinogenic chemicals and has been linked to serious risks in reproductive and neurological health.

A coalition of farmworker, farm, public health and environmental groups is calling on the administration of governor-elect Jerry Brown to work with his agency staff to undo this approval, and deny the use of methyl iodide in California. Specifically, the groups call on Brown to:

”¢ Follow the recommendation of John Froines, PhD, Chair of the Scientific Review Committee, to reconvene the Committee and direct DPR to incorporate the Committee’s evaluation and analysis into its final decision and,
Ӣ Issue a moratorium on methyl iodide use on his first day in office.

Crumbling under chemical industry pressure, including an intensive pro-methyl-iodide lobbying and communications campaign run by Arysta LifeScience””methyl iodide manufacturer and the largest privately held pesticide company in the world, the state of California has disregarded the findings of top scientists who have consistently said that the chemical is too dangerous to be used in agriculture. Arysta LifeScience pushed to secure registration of the pesticide in California because it is one of the most lucrative pesticide markets in the nation.

The Scientific Review Committee (SRC) noted in its final report in February that, “Based on the data available, we know that methyl iodide is a highly toxic chemical and we expect that any anticipated scenario for the agricultural or structural fumigation use of this agent would result in exposures to a large number of the public and thus would have a significant adverse impact on the public health. Due to the potent toxicity of methyl iodide, its transport in and ultimate fate in the environment, adequate control of human exposure would be difficult, if not impossible.”

Permits will be required for the use of the pesticide and strict guidelines have been put in place. DPR has said that it will impose more comprehensive controls on methyl iodide than EPA or any other state that allows its use, including: larger buffer zones around all applications; a minimum of a half—mile buffer around schools, hospitals, nursing homes and similar sites; reduced application rates and acreage that can be treated; and, application limits to protect groundwater. However, state Assemblyman Bill Monning says that, “With a limited state budget, it is going to be very difficult to rely on [county level] agricultural commissioners to provide enough oversight and monitoring if this goes into use extensively.”

Dr. John Froines, Chair of the SRC and Professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health at UCLA said in a Senate Food and Agriculture Committee Hearing in June, “I believe that if you go out into the real world, and I think everybody in this room knows what the real world in the valleys are about, that the mitigation strategies that are promised so articulately by Mary-Ann [Warmerdam, DPR Director], are not going to be adequate, because this is without question one of the most toxic chemicals on earth.” (page 46 of transcript)

“The decision to permit use of a chemical in the fields that causes cancer, late-term miscarriage and permanent neurological damage is a ticking time bomb,“ said Dr. Susan Kegley, Consulting Scientist with Pesticide Action Network. “The idea that this pesticide can be used safely in the fields is a myth.”

“The science is clear: there’s no way to use this chemical safely in the fields, no matter what conditions DPR puts on its use,” said Anne Katten, Pesticide and Worker Safety Specialist at California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.

“The Schwarzenegger administration has left a huge mess for Governor Brown to clean up. Governor Brown and his staff should act immediately to ban the use of methyl iodide in California,” said Paul Towers, State Director of Pesticide Watch Education Fund.

In 2007, the Bush Administration’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved methyl iodide at the national level, ignoring concerns from a group of over 50 eminent scientists””including six Nobel Laureates in Chemistry””who expressed astonishment in a letter to U.S. EPA that the agency was “working to legalize broadcast releases of one of the more toxic chemicals used in manufacturing into the environment.”

Since then, the more protective registration processes in New York State and Washington State both rejected methyl iodide, and in August, Senator Dianne Feinstein asked the US EPA to review the pesticide’s registration nationally. The agency has said that it will open a public comment period on the pesticide’s approval due to the “complexity of the issues raised and the public interest in methyl iodide.”

Following their draft announcement in April to approve methyl iodide, DPR received over 53,000 public comments””the most in the history of the department, and the vast majority in opposition to approval.

“Today, California has failed communities who live near fields, trading our health to protect the profits of pesticide companies,” said Teresa DeAnda, President of the community group El Comité Para el Bienestar de Earlimart. “Governor Brown needs to take immediate action to ban methyl iodide because neither Arysta nor California regulators will be there to help when our communities get cancer and we lose our babies.”

The chemical will be used primarily to fumigate and sterilize strawberry fields. Despite the claims that it would not be possible to grow strawberries without methyl iodide, organic growers across the state do so successfully every year. In a February 8, 2010 hearing before the California Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture, two panels of California growers and researchers discussed a number of safe and effective alternatives to methyl iodide. These methods include solarization, anaerobic soil disinfestation, crop rotation, biological controls, selective breeding, soil steaming, hydroponics, and steam treatment for containerized plants. “I’ve been growing strawberries without using pesticides in California for 25 years,” said Jim Cochran, owner of Swanton Berry Farm in Davenport, California. “It’s certainly possible to grow commercially-viable and ecologically sound strawberry crops without using methyl iodide or any other chemical pesticides.”

A study released in September from Washington State University showed that organic farms produced more flavorful and nutritious strawberries while leaving the soil healthier and more genetically diverse than conventional strawberry farms.

Sources: PANNA Press Release
Businessweek/Associated Press

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02
Dec

Public Comments Sought by EPA on Chlorpyrifos Decision

(Beyond Pesticides, December 2, 2010) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just announced that it is seeking public comment until December 15 on a draft stipulation in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that will suspend further litigation with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) on the claim that EPA has unreasonably delayed its response to their 2007 petition to cancel all uses and revoke all tolerances for the pesticide chlorpyrifos. Under the draft Stipulation and Order, the case will be suspended, provided (1) EPA issues a preliminary human health risk assessment for chlorpyrifos by June 1, 2011, and requests comment on that assessment; and (2) EPA sends NRDC and PANNA a written response to their petition by November 23, 2011. If the lawsuit is not reactivated by January 23, 2012, it will be dismissed.

In September 2007, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) filed a petition with EPA asking the agency to ban chlorpyrifos. In the nearly three years since, the agency has not responded. This spurred the groups to file a lawsuit in federal court to force EPA to decide whether or not it will cancel all remaining uses and tolerances for the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which has been banned for residential use, but continues to expose farmworkers and consumers through its use in agriculture. NRDC and PANNA v. EPA was filed by the nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice on July 22, 2010.

In October, Beyond Pesticides along with over 13,000 organizations and individuals -consumers, parents, health advocates, farmworkers and others from across the U.S. sent a letter to the EPA calling for a ban on the insecticide chlorpyrifos and a phase out of other organophosphate (OP) pesticides. Chlorpyrifos was phased out for residential use under a 2000 agreement between EPA and Dow Agrosciences, but continues to expose farmworkers and consumers through its use in agriculture. Beyond Pesticides calls EPA’s 2000 chlorpyrifos settlement with Dow a classic failure of the risk assessment process under the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) —a failure that is repeated over and over again in agency chemical regulation decisions. Advocates have pointed to chlorpyrifos as the poster child for why risk assessment does not work to protect the public, workers and the environment, even with safer practices and products available in the marketplace. EPA’s decision in 2000 and subsequent action removed chlorpyrifos’ residential uses and retains all agricultural uses except tomatoes (allowable residues on apples and grapes were adjusted), golf course and public health mosquito spraying. The agency argued at the time of its decision that it had adequately mitigated risks through the removal of high exposure uses to children in the residential setting, but ignored the special risks to farmworker children’s exposure as well as the availability of alternative agricultural practices and products that made chlorpyrifos unnecessary and therefore its risks unreasonable. The decision at the time was hailed as a victory for the public because it eliminated high hazard exposures and showed that EPA could remove uses of a widely used chemical. Except, it did not do the job. The risk assessment process does not force a consideration of those who suffer disproportionate risk or groups of people (such as those with neurological diseases in this case who are disproportionately affected).

Chlorpyrifos is a neurotoxic insecticide whose use was found to exceed acceptable rates of illness, especially to children. By focusing on risk reduction strategies to come up with “acceptable” (but in Beyond Pesticides’ view unnecessary) rates of illness across the population, EPA virtually ignored the chemical’s widespread use in agriculture (with one exception that focused on dietary residues), resulting in exposure to farmworkers, farm families and others living near agricultural areas. It is also a frequent water contaminant and a long range contaminant, exposing communities and contaminating pristine areas far from where it was applied. Short term effects of exposure to chlorpyrifos include chest tightness, blurred vision, headaches, coughing and wheezing, weakness, nausea and vomiting, coma, seizures, and even death. Prenatal and early childhood exposure has been linked to low birth weights, developmental delays and other health effects. A Harvard University study links exposure to organophosphate pesticides like chlorpyrifos to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). EPA has literally had information on chlorpyrifos’ adverse effects for decades.

Take Action:
Comments for the draft Stipulation and Order and related documents can be submitted at Regulations.gov. Comments must be identified by the docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2007-1005 at and received by the Agency no later than December 15, 2010. [UPDATE: Comments have been extended and will now be accepted through Monday, December 20, 2010].

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01
Dec

EPA Sued to Enforce Endangered Salmon Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, December 1, 2010) Several fishing and environmental conservation groups are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to limit the use of six agricultural pesticides to protect salmon. Restrictions on the use of six pesticides in Oregon, Washington and California shown to harm endangered salmon and steelhead, were ordered after a court found that EPA violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by failing to restrict the pesticides from entering salmon habitat. However EPA has failed to act to restrict the pesticides.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington is the fourth lawsuit the plainstiffs -Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations; Institute for Fisheries Resources and Defenders of Wildlife- brought against the EPA to restrict the pesticides diazinon, malathion, chlorpyrifos, carbaryl, carbofuran and methomyl in streams of endangered salmon and steelhead. The plaintiffs seek a judgment declaring that EPA’s failure to implement the organophosphate (OP) and carbamate biological opinions issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) violates the ESA, and a judgment declaring that EPA is taking listed salmonids in violation of the ESA. The lawsuit seeks an order vacating and enjoining EPA’s authorization of the uses of diazinon, malathion, chlorpyrifos, carbaryl, carbofuran, and methomyl that do not comply with the recommended mitigation measures until such time as EPA has put in place permanent measures that ensure against likely jeopardy to listed salmon and steelhead or adverse modification of their critical habitat, and an order compelling EPA to put in place such permanent measures within one year.

According to the suit, to date EPA has not implemented a single one of NMFS’s recommendations, nor has EPA taken steps to implement any alternative protective measures that would avoid jeopardy and adverse modification in response to the biological opinions. EPA asked manufacturers to adopt the restrictions voluntarily, the suit says, but the manufacturers refused and EPA has not followed through with new requirements.

NMFS issued three Biological Opinions, the latest on August 2010, which called for several limitations on aerial spraying and ground application of the pesticides near salmon waters, as well as buffer zones around salmon waters and ditches that drain to salmon habitat, among others. EPA was court ordered to consult with NMFS to identify measures needed to protect salmon and steelhead from the pesticides as a result of a 2002 and 2007 lawsuit.

Under pressure, EPA announced plans to place additional limitations on the use of three organophosphate pesticides, chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion in 2009. EPA issued less stringent protections than those of the NMFS and stated that it will require industry to fund and carry out monitoring of salmon streams in order to assure the pesticide restrictions work as intended. In a May 14, 2010 letter to NMFS, EPA explained how the agency planned to achieve protection goals through the methods outlined by NMFS in the Biological Opinions or by alternative methods that EPA’s scientific analyses determined will achieve the same purpose. At the same time, in an act of defiance, Dow AgroSciences and Cheminova, manufacturers of the pesticides in question, stated in correspondence to the EPA dated May 7, 2010, that they were “baffled by the agency’s position,” saying that their products do not threaten endangered species. Citing their “solid scientific evidence,” that they claim is “far more complete than is reflected in the NMFS Biological Opinion,” they are not prepared to make the registration revisions [to their products] described in the EPA’s April 29, 2010 and November 2009 requests.

The pesticides that have been reviewed so far are some of the most dangerous chemicals used today. Chlorpyrifos, diazinon, malathion, carbaryl, carbofuran, and methomyl are neurotoxic and pose serious risks to both humans and wildlife. While many of these pesticides have been phased out for residential use, they continue to expose wildlife and farmworkers through their use in agriculture. Studies have shown that mixtures of organophosphate and carbamate pesticides cause more harm to endangered salmon than individual pesticide exposure and are commonly detected in freshwater habitats that support these threatened and endangered species.

The other pesticides reviewed by NMFS to date include: azinphos methyl, bensulide, dimethoate, disulfoton, ethoprop, fenamiphos, naled, methamidophos, methidathion, methyl parathion, phorate, and phosmet. Information on these pesticides can be found on the Pesticide Gateway.

Source: The Oregonian

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30
Nov

Triclosan Linked to Increased Risk of Allergies, BPA Linked to Immune Problems

(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2010) Young people who are overexposed to antibacterial soaps containing triclosan may suffer more allergies, and exposure to higher levels of Bisphenol A among adults may negatively influence the immune system, a new University of Michigan School of Public Health study finds. Triclosan is a chemical compound widely used in products such as antibacterial soaps, toothpaste, pens, diaper bags and medical devices. Bisphenol A (BPA) is found in many plastics and, for example, as a protective lining in food cans. Both of these chemicals are in a class of environmental toxicants called endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs), which are believed to negatively impact human health by mimicking or affecting hormones.

Using data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), U-M researchers compared urinary BPA and triclosan with cytomegalovirus (CMV) antibody levels and diagnosis of allergies or hay fever in a sample of U.S. adults and children over age 6. Allergy and hay fever diagnosis and CMV antibodies were used as two separate markers of immune alterations. The study, “The Impact of Bisphenol A and Triclosan on Immune Parameters in the US Population, NHANES 2003-2006,” was published online November 30, 2010 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

“We found that people over age 18 with higher levels of BPA exposure had higher CMV antibody levels, which suggests their cell-mediated immune system may not be functioning properly,” said Erin Rees Clayton, PhD, research investigator at the U-M School of Public Health and first author on the paper.

Researchers also found that people age 18 and under with higher levels of triclosan were more likely to report diagnosis of allergies and hay fever. There is growing concern among the scientific community and consumer groups that these EDCs are dangerous to humans at lower levels than previously thought.

“The triclosan findings in the younger age groups may support the ‘hygiene hypothesis,’ which maintains living in very clean and hygienic environments may impact our exposure to micro-organisms that are beneficial for development of the immune system,” said Allison Aiello, PhD, associate professor at the U-M School of Public Health and principal investigator on the study. As an antimicrobial agent found in many household products, triclosan may play a role in changing the micro-organisms to which we are exposed in such a way that our immune system development in childhood is affected. “It is possible that a person can be too clean for their own good,” said Dr. Aiello.

Previous animal studies indicate that BPA and triclosan may affect the immune system, but this is the first known study to look at exposure to BPA and triclosan as it relates to human immune function, Dr. Aiello said.

One surprise finding is that with BPA exposure, age seems to matter, said Dr. Clayton. In people 18 or older, higher amounts of BPA were associated with higher CMV levels, but in people younger than 18 the reverse was true.

“This suggests the timing of the exposure to BPA and perhaps the quantity and length of time we are exposed to BPA may be affecting the immune system response,” Dr. Clayton said. This is just the first step, she said, but a very important one. Going forward, researchers would like to study the long-term effects of BPA and triclosan in people to see if they can establish a causal relationship.

One limitation of the study is that it measured disease and exposure simultaneously and thus shows only part of the picture, Dr. Aiello said. “It is possible, for example, that individuals who have an allergy are more hygienic because of their condition, and that the relationship we observed is, therefore, not causal or is an example of reverse causation.”

Earlier this month, Members of Congress, led by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban triclosan due to the hazards that this chemical poses, including antibiotic resistance and potentially leading to higher health care costs. In the letter, which cited the work of Beyond Pesticides, Food and Water Watch and others, the Representatives stated concerns about the endocrine disrupting potential of triclosan.

The scientific literature has extensively linked the non-medical uses of triclosan to many health and environmental hazards. Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor and has been shown to affect male and female reproductive hormones, which could potentially increase risk for breast cancer. Triclosan is also shown to alter thyroid function, and other studies have found that due to its extensive use in consumer goods, triclosan and its metabolites are present in, fish, umbilical cord blood and human milk. A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives also found that triclosan was present in the urine of 75% of the U.S. population, with higher levels in people in their third decade of life and among people with the highest household income.

TAKE ACTION: Join the ban triclosan campaign and sign the pledge to stop using triclosan today. Avoid products containing triclosan, and encourage your local schools, government agencies, and local businesses to use their buying power to go triclosan-free. Urge your municipality, institution or company to adopt the model resolution which commits to not procuring or using products containing triclosan.

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29
Nov

International Coalition Calls for Smart Definition of Nanotechnology

(Beyond Pesticides, November 29, 2010) A coalition of over 40 environmental organizations from 22 different countries are calling on the European Commission to ensure nanomaterials are adequately defined and regulated in the EU by rapidly adopting a “cautious and broad” definition. The groups hope that by defining nanomaterials, long-awaited regulation can finally be put in place to help ensure they do not harm people and the environment.

The recommendations were submitted by the green group European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and the Center of International Environmental Law (CIEL) on November 19. The Commission is set to adopt a final definition, which will be applicable to all EU legislation addressing nanomaterials, by the end of the year.

“Regulation has been stuck for many years because of the absence of a definition, so this proposed definition is very much welcome,” says Senior Attorney David Azoulay from CIEL. “But if the final definition adopted is too narrow and does not include all materials for which there are health concerns, it might render all future regulation useless.”

In the U.S., the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) heard testimony on the development of a definition and policy on nanotechnology in organic standards in October. While the NOSB proposed a general ban over nanotechnology, there was debate over the definition of nanotechnology. Currently, the board has, as a working definition, defined engineered nanomaterials as substances deliberately designed, engineered and produced by human activity to be in the nanoscale range (approx 1-300 nm) because of very specific properties or compositions (eg. shape, surface properties, or chemistry) that result only in that nanoscale.

The groups calling on the EU warn against any attempt to narrow the scope of the definition, since it would then exclude several materials with serious health and environmental concerns. However, the groups do welcome the inclusion of the following in the draft definition:
Ӣ The inclusion of aggregates and agglomerates;
Ӣ The calculation of size distribution on the basis of particle number as opposed to mass;
Ӣ The adoption of a 1% threshold for particle number size distribution to consider a material a nanomaterial.

The groups also call for prompt evaluation analysis to ensure that the final definition includes materials that are already of concern, while avoiding materials that are unlikely to warrant additional scrutiny.

“Scientists have made it clear: there is no scientific basis to limit the definition of nanomaterials to particles below one hundred nanometres. The EU Commission should follow their advice and adopt a broad and cautious definition,” says Louise Duprez, EEB Nanotechnology Policy Officer.
Silver nanoparticles are now widely impregnated into a wide variety of consumer products to kill off bacteria, including cosmetics, sunscreens, sporting goods, clothing, electronics, baby and infant products, and food and food packaging. However, little is known about the impact of nanoparticles on human health and the environment, and mounting evidence suggests that these materials can pose significant health, safety, and environmental hazards. Nanosized particles can be released from impregnated materials via washing or sweating where they may pose numerable unknown adverse effects to humans and water systems.

“We urgently need risk management measures to ensure that companies only place safe nanomaterials on the market,” says Vito Buonsante, Health and Environment lawyer from ClientEarth.

A complete set of comments and proposals can be found on CIEL’s website.

Sources: EEB Press Release
CIEL press release

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24
Nov

Be Merry This Holiday Season with an Organic Christmas Tree

(Beyond Pesticides, November, 24, 2010) ‘Tis the season to be merry, but how merry can it be if your Christmas tree is leaving not so pleasant presents under and on the tree? Toxic pesticides linked to numerous adverse human health effects are used on Christmas trees, with residues contaminating indoor air and surfaces. So for this Christmas season, go green and avoid the toxic chemicals. Visit the Christmas Trees and Pesticides web page to help find an organic Christmas tree near you!

Over 25 million homes in the U.S. bring in a fresh Christmas tree each year. The natural fresh scent of pine has become a hallmark of the season. However, the tree may be hiding other surprises among its needles and branches. Insecticides are commonly used on Christmas trees during its 10 year life span to control pests such as mites, adelgids and aphids which cause cosmetic damage to the trees, thus reducing their value. Herbicides are also used to control weeds surrounding trees. Of the pesticides that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has registered for use on Christmas trees, most are linked to one or more adverse effects, including cancer, hormonal disruption, neurotoxicity, organ damage, reproductive/birth defects, asthma, environmental effects and more. Their use results in exposure to workers, wildlife, and waterways. Beyond Pesticides has compiled a list of 25 pesticides commonly used or recommended for use by state agricultural extension services, including: 2,4-D, bifenthrin, and chlorpyrifos. The Pesticide Induced Diseases Database documents the numerous health effects associated with these pesticides.

North Carolina is one of the top Christmas tree producing states. The Cooperative Extension Service of North Carolina reports that glyphosate continues to be the most widely used insecticide used on Christmas trees with nearly 90 percent being used on the state’s trees in the 2006 season. Bifenthrin is also very popular and a relatively new insecticide, spirodiclofen -shown to have endocrine disruptive and reproductive effects -is also gaining in popularity. The industry will be surveyed again in 2013 about 2012 practices.

Because of concerns about household exposure, Christmas tree growers have been advised by North Carolina officials to use only pesticides “labeled for spraying in the home” after the trees have been harvested. However, the law establishes no such restriction and these pesticides are linked to respiratory and neurological effects. Many of the pesticides registered for Christmas trees have been banned or have always been prohibited in residential settings. While continuing to be used on Christmas trees, chlorpyrifos (Dursban), for example, was taken off the market in 2000 for home use because of its neurotoxic effects.

However, some growers today are using organic techniques. A growing number of farms around the country are going organic, so in many cases an organic tree can be found locally. Beyond Pesticides recommends purchasing an organic Christmas tree or wreath from a local grower, if possible. Links to organic Christmas tree growers are available on Beyond Pesticides webpage. If there isn’t a local organic tree farm in your area, Beyond Pesticides encourages consumers to talk to growers about the pesticides they use and encourage them to go organic.

This holiday season, please consider an end-of-year donation to Beyond Pesticides. Your gift supports our important programs and grassroots advocacy to protect people’s health and the environment. Happy Holidays!

Photo Courtesy Feezers Farm

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23
Nov

Group Petitions EPA to Stop Sale of Nano-Copper Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, November 23, 2010) The International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) filed a legal petition with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), calling on the agency to use its pesticide regulation authority to halt the sale of untested nano-copper wood preservative products. The letter is the second ICTA challenge in the past two years of EPA’s failure to regulate pesticidal nanomaterials. In 2008, ICTA, Beyond Pesticides, Friends of the Earth and others including filed a petition challenging EPA’s failure to regulate nanosilver as a unique pesticide.

ICTA research found nano-copper-based wood preservative pesticides in wide use. Yet, despite EPA’s two-year old policy to classify such pesticides as “new” and requiring further data, the agency has not treated them any different than larger particle based preservatives. The three nano-copper products highlighted in the letter are manufactured by Osmose, Inc. In each instance, although the active ingredient, copper carbonate, was purchased from another company, the copper carbonate is then milled by Osmose to produce nanoparticles of copper carbonate. A 2008 report notes that nano-copper preservatives have captured at least 50% of the North American wood preservative market. However, recent reports have noted that market capture could be as high as 75-80% now.

The ultra small size and chemical characteristics of manufactured nanoparticles can give them unique properties, but those same new properties–tiny size, vastly increased surface area to volume ratio, high reactivity–can also create unique and unpredictable human health and environmental risks. Failure to adequately test nanomaterials for their health and environmental hazard potential could lead to a new health crisis like that of asbestos or lead paint.

Scientists and researchers are becoming increasingly concerned with the potential impacts of nano-particles on public health and the environment. A new study by scientists from Oregon State University (OSU) and the European Union (EU) highlights the major regulatory and educational issues that they believe should be considered before nanoparticles are used in pesticides. The study was published October 2010 in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health.

Copper nanoparticles could be released from the treated wood during sawing or machining, cleaning, through normal wear and tear, or from product decomposition, and then become available for potential inhalation or ingestion. Reports stated in early 2009 that over five billion board feet of wood have been treated with its “micronized” copper products, so the potential for consumer exposure to nanoscale copper particles could be quite large.

“To our knowledge, EPA has never evaluated the potential hazards associated with the nanoscale particles of copper carbonate in wood treatment products,” said Jaydee Hanson, Policy Director for ICTA. “Yet one of the companies issued a press release in 2009 in which it claimed that the “consumer safety” of its products has been “confirmed.”’

It has been the announced policy of EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs since at least 2008 to presume that any active or inert ingredient that is or contains nanoscale material is a ”˜new’ ingredient for regulatory purposes under its pesticide regulations. However, in each instance pesticide manufacturers failed to informed EPA that its products contains nanoscale particles. Consumers have also been left in the dark about their potential exposure as these products are currently being marketed under the ambiguous label “micronized” copper.

EPA itself has recently recognized that, “Nano copper is more acutely toxic than micro copper.” Studies of the acute toxicity of elemental copper nanoparticles (23.5 nm) in mice found “gravely toxicological effects and heavy injuries on kidney, liver, and spleen.” In a study comparing the toxicity of various metal oxide nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes, copper oxide nanoparticles (averaging 43 nm) were the most potent of all the nanoparticles tested at causing cytotoxicity and DNA damage. Although the potential toxicity of nanoscale particles of copper carbonate has not been equally well characterized, the results of the study with copper oxide nanoparticles are of particular concern because both copper oxide and copper carbonate include a bivalent copper ion. Additionally, copper is known to be toxic to aquatic organisms particularly during the larval stages of invertebrates, and algae and plant life can be affected as well.

ICTA is asking that EPA:

Ӣ immediately investigate the composition the known nano-copper based pesticides, and take appropriate administrative action; and
Ӣ thoroughly investigate other possible nano-copper products, including but not limited to copper-based wood treatment products currently available on the market, as similar actions under FIFRA may be necessary; and
Ӣ if EPA determines that any manufacturer of copper-based pesticide products, has distributed or sold any product that has a composition that differs from the composition of the registration of the product, EPA should take enforcement action under FIFRA Section 12(a)(1)(C); and
Ӣ finally, EPA should publish its long-awaited industry guidance on nano-scale pesticides (Docket No. EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0650). A notice on pesticide products containing nanoscale materials was submitted to the US Office of Management and Budget on July 30, 2010; however, no further action has been taken.

In 2007 a broad international coalition of 40 consumer, public health, environmental, and labor organizations, including Beyond Pesticides, released the Principles for the Oversight of Nanotechnologies and Nanomaterials, calling for strong, comprehensive oversight of the new technology and its products. Beyond Pesticides has since advocated for a precautionary course of action in order to prevent unnecessary risks to the public, workers and the environment.

At its October 2010 meeting, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) passed a recommendation directing the USDA National Organic Program to prohibit engineered nanomaterials from certified organic products as expeditiously as possible. More details about the NOSB action can be found in our blog posting, NOSB Proposes Ban on Nanotechnology in Certified Organic Products.

Full copies of the letter as well as past legal petitions filed with EPA and FDA are available at www.nanoaction.org.

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22
Nov

UK Beekeepers End Sponsorship Deal with Pesticide Industry

(Beyond Pesticides, November 22, 2010) The British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) last week announced plans to end its controversial practice of endorsing pesticides for financial benefit from leading chemical manufacturers. The endorsement of four products as “bee-friendly” caused outrage among many beekeepers because one of the companies, Bayer Crop Science, makes pesticides like imidacloprid, an insecticide widely implicated in the deaths of honeybees worldwide.

The 135-year-old charity endorsed pesticides used to combat the varroa mite that is linked to the collapse of colonies as “bee-friendly.” In return, for the past 12 years the association has received £17,500 ($27,949) a year from Bayer Crop Sciences and Syngenta. This relationship angered many members and some left the association. However, the BBKA denies that it has bowed to pressure from members who have been increasingly critical of its relationship with Bayer and other chemical companies.

In a statement sent out this week to the secretaries of local beekeeping associations across the UK, the BBKA’s president, Martin Smith, said: “Following discussion with the companies involved, the BBKA trustees have decided that endorsement and related product-specific payments will cease as soon as practically possible.” He added: “The four products subject to BBKA endorsement are of declining commercial importance and the development of new classes of pesticides and application techniques means that the relationship with the plant-protection industry should be reviewed.”

Beekeeper Graham White, who resigned from the BBKA more than two years ago in protest at what he called a “secret deal done with the pesticide manufacturers whose products are lethal to bees,” welcomed today’s decision.

“It’s great news, but it’s too little, too late,” he said. “They should have been showing solidarity with beekeepers in France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia when pesticides were banned there after being implicated in bee deaths, instead of selling their logo to the manufacturers.” In 2008, Italy joined Germany, Slovenia and France in banning the pesticides linked to bee die-offs.

Mr. White says all ties to the pesticide industry should be immediately severed. “All of those who created and directed this policy of pesticide endorsement must be thrown out of the BBKA and replaced by real beekeepers. The BBKA is not fit for purpose and will never recover its moral integrity until it is reconstituted as a pure beekeeping organization that is willing to campaign against all use of systemic pesticides on British farms.”

Meanwhile, new research from the European Beekeeping Coordination and Corporate Europe Observatory published a report also released last week which states that industry “experts” are undermining EU review of the regulations of pesticides and putting Europe’s bee population further at risk. Further, a number of “experts” from pesticide companies were found to be involved in defining which tests are required to verify the safety of new pesticides under the EU pesticides directive. This report comes ahead of a vote by members of the European Parliament later this month on a resolution requiring independent research into bee mortality and a revision of EU rules governing risk assessments of bees’ exposure to pesticides.

The BBKA’s position has polarized the 45,000-strong beekeeping community, but the majority of BBKA members upheld its policy at its annual delegate meeting earlier this year and in 2009. At the next meeting in January, delegates will be asked to note this week’s decision “with respect to the cessation of BBKA endorsement of certain pesticides.”

The products implicated in bee deaths, clothianidin, imidacloprid, fipronil, and thiamethoxam, are approved to kill insects on a wide range of crops in the UK including very widely grown oilseed rape (canola), barley, and sugar beet. Bayer’s imidacloprid and clothianidin are implicated as causing the bee deaths. Since their introduction by Bayer CropScience in the U.S. in 2003, these neonicotinoid pesticides have been linked to the devastating loss of millions of honey bees in a number of countries. Germany banned the pesticides after beekeepers reported that two thirds of their bees died in May 2008 following the application of clothianidin.

These extensive bee deaths are known also as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). For the past several years, beekeepers in the U.S. have reported unexplained losses of 30-90% of the bees in their hives. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), bees pollinate $15 billion worth of crops grown. USDA also claims that one out of every three mouthfuls of food in the typical American diet has a connection to bee pollination. As the bee deaths worsen, Americans will see their food costs increase. Congressional hearings on the phenomenon found that USDA was unable to account for the $20 million that Congress has allocated to the department for fighting CCD in the last two years. Recently, research found that a combination of a virus and a fungus may be responsible for bee deaths. Most other research work has hypothesized that there are numerous factors, including pesticides, that depress the immune and nervous system of bees, creating a vulnerability to other factor, however research is still not conclusive and researchers continue to search for a cause and a cure.

First reported in 2006, CCD is unlike other ailments that have affected honeybees in the past because worker bees simply disappear rapidly, never returning to the hive where the queen still lives with a small cluster of bees amidst pollen and honey stores in the presence of immature bees (brood). It has been reported that losses of honeybee colonies across 21 states in the winter of 2007-8 averaged 35%, with a high degree of variability. For more information, read Beyond Pesticides’ Pollinators and Pesticides.

Source: The Guardian UK

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19
Nov

Congresswoman Urges FDA to Ban Triclosan

(Beyond Pesticides, November 19, 2010) House Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise M. Slaughter and two colleagues asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban triclosan due to the hazards that this chemical poses, including antibiotic resistance and potentially leading to higher health care costs, citing both Beyond Pesticides and Food and Water Watch along with other environmental groups. Rep. Slaughter, joined by Reps. Raul Grijalva and Betty McCollum, delivered the letter Tuesday, November 16, urging FDA to take immediate steps to stop the unnecessary exposure to this chemical in the U.S.

Rep. Slaughter concludes that “triclosan is clearly a threat to our health.” Among the reasons for her conclusion, she lists:
”¢ The presence of triclosan in the human body and its impact on our “body burden;”
Ӣ Bacterial resistance to antibiotic medications and antibacterial cleaners;
Ӣ The potential for endocrine disruption as a result of triclosan bioaccumulation in the body;
Ӣ Wastewater contamination;
Ӣ The threat of destroying ecological balance, and;
Ӣ The fact that triclosan is no more effective than soap and water.

The scientific literature has extensivelly linked the non-medical uses of triclosan to many health and environmental hazards. Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor and has been shown to affect male and female reproductive hormones, which could potentially increase risk for breast cancer. Triclosan is also shown to alter thyroid function, and other studies have found that due to its extensive use in consumer goods, triclosan and its metabolites are present in, fish, umbilical cord blood and human milk. A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives also found that triclosan was present in the urine of 75% of the U.S. population, with higher levels in people in their third decade of life and among people with the highest household income.

Triclosan is regulated by both the FDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); however, Rep. Slaughter focuses on FDA because it oversees its use in personal-care products, medical devices and products that come into contact with food, and triclosan is found in a growing number of these products. Beyond Pesticides, in partnership with Food and Water Watch and 78 other groups, has submitted petitions to both the FDA and EPA requiring that they end the use of all non-medically prescribed triclosan uses on the basis that those uses violate numerous federal statutes.

Echoing these petitions, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) also submitted letters of concern to both EPA and FDA. In FDA’s response, the agency acknowledged that soaps containing triclosan offer no additional benefit over regular soap and water. FDA stated that “existing data raise valid concerns about the [health] effects of repetitive daily human exposure to these antiseptic ingredients” and announced plans to address the use of triclosan in cosmetics or other products. FDA also expressed concern about the development of antibiotic resistance from using antibacterial products and about triclosan’s potential long-term health effects. Despite these concerns, however, the agency did not actually move ahead on the rule-making.

TAKE ACTION: Join the ban triclosan campaign and sign the pledge to stop using triclosan today. Avoid products containing triclosan, and encourage your local schools, government agencies, and local businesses to use their buying power to go triclosan-free. Urge your municipality, institution or company to adopt the model resolution which commits to not procuring or using products containing triclosan.

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18
Nov

EPA Announces Expansion of Endocrine Disruptor Chemical Testing

(Beyond Pesticides, November 18, 2010) Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has identified a list of 134 chemicals that will be screened for their potential to disrupt the endocrine system, along with a draft of the policies and procedures that the agency will follow for testing. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that that interfere with the hormones produced or secreted by the human or animal endocrine system, which regulates development, metabolism, growth, and reproduction. These man-made chemicals are used in everyday materials but appearing in increasing levels throughout the environment.

For years, scientists have noted strange anomalies in fish and wildlife in locations where endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are found. A recent study found that an astounding 100 percent of small mouth bass in certain sites of the Potomac River basin have exhibited both male and female organs, a characteristic linked to EDCs. According to a 2009 study by the U.S. Geologic Survey, the occurrence of “intersex” fish is now found to be nationwide.

EPA is currently proceeding with endocrine disruptor screening on three fronts: 1) Developing and validating Tier 2 tests; 2) Selecting chemicals for screening and testing; and 3) Implementing the policies and procedures the agency will use to require screening.

EPA announced the initial list of chemicals to be screened for their potential effects on the endocrine system on April 15, 2009 and the first test orders were issued on October 29, 2009. The inadequacy of the current federal effort was highlighted when the EPA unveiled this first phase to determine the presence of endocrine disrupting chemicals under an initiative mandated by Congress in 1996. Despite more than a decade’s time, the tests were limited to only a handful of pesticides and based on science that many consider outdated. Testing will eventually be expanded to cover all pesticide chemicals. Now that screening is underway, EPA is reviewing test order responses and making available the status or test order responses and/or any decisions regarding testing requirements.

The list includes chemicals that have been identified as priorities under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and may be found in sources of drinking water where a substantial number of people are exposed. The list also includes pesticide active ingredients that are being evaluated under EPA’s registration review program to ensure they meet current scientific and regulatory standards. The data generated from the screens will provide robust and systematic scientific information to help EPA identify whether additional testing is necessary, or whether other steps are necessary to address potential endocrine disrupting chemicals.

The chemicals listed include those used in products such as solvents, gasoline, plastics, personal care products, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals, including benzene, perchlorate, urethane, ethylene glycol, and erythromycin.

“Endocrine disruptors represent a serious health concern for the American people, especially children. Americans today are exposed to more chemicals in our products, our environment and our bodies than ever before, and it is essential that EPA takes every step to gather information and prevent risks,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “We are using the best available science to examine a larger list of chemicals and ensure that they are not contaminating the water we drink and exposing adults and children to potential harm.”

In 2009, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) introduced The Endocrine Disruption Prevention Act of 2009 [H.R. 4190]. Congress to explore linkages between hormone disrupting chemicals in the environment and everyday products and the dramatic increase of autism, hyperactivity, diabetes, obesity, breast cancer, prostate cancer and other hormone related disorders. After the identification of endocrine disruptors, the bill, rquires federal agencies with regulatory authority to report to Congress on the action it plans to take.

For more information on Endocrine Disruptors, please see Beyond Pesticides’ Endorcrine Disruption brochure.

Take Action: EPA is accepting comments on their draft policies and procedures until January 16, 2011. All comments should be identified by docket identification (ID) no. EPA-HQ-OPPT-2007-1080. Comments can be submitted to http://www.regulations.gov, or mailed to Document Control Office (7407M), Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20460—0001.

After public comment and review, EPA will issue test orders to pesticide registrants and the manufacturers of these chemicals to compel them to generate data to determine whether their chemicals may disrupt the estrogen, androgen and thyroid pathways of the endocrine system.

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17
Nov

Agricultural Fungicides Contaminate Waters Downstream

(Beyond Pesticides, November 17, 2010) Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have found a dozen agricultural fungicides in the waters and sediments downstream of farms and orchards in western states. Presented November 8, 2010 at the annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) in Portland, Oregon, the findings represent the first such data on fungicides in the western U.S.

Farmers routinely use fungus-killing compounds to spray or dust food crops, such as strawberries, corn, and soybeans. Some crops receive up to a dozen doses per growing season. Nationwide, fungicide use has risen considerably since the 1990s, reaching 350 million pounds in 2001. However, the environmental prevalence and effects on wildlife and ecosystems, particularly of newer fungicides, are poorly understood, says Kathryn Kuivila, PhD, of the USGS California Water Science Center. Environmental monitoring programs monitor concentrations of few or no fungicides, she notes.

The study entitled, “Occurrence of Azoxystrobin, Propiconazole, and Selected Other Fungicides in US Streams, 2005—2006,” documents the occurrence of fungicides in select U.S. streams soon after the first documentation of soybean rust in the U.S. and prior to the corresponding increase in fungicide use to treat this problem. Water samples were collected from 29 streams in 13 states in 2005 and/or 2006, and analyzed for 12 target fungicides. Nine of the 12 fungicides were detected in at least one stream sample and at least one fungicide was detected in 20 of 29 streams. At least one fungicide was detected in 56% of the 103 samples, as many as five fungicides were detected in an individual sample, and mixtures of fungicides were common. Azoxystrobin was detected most frequently (45% of 103 samples) followed by metalaxyl (27%), propiconazole (17%), myclobutanil (9%), and tebuconazole (6%). The study reveals an indication of a seasonal pattern to fungicide occurrence, with detections more common and concentrations higher in late summer and early fall than in spring. At a few sites, fungicides were detected in all samples collected suggesting the potential for season-long occurrence in some streams.

USGS scientists have recently started to measure fungicide levels at a regional scale. Surveys on streams in southeastern and Midwestern states were published in October. Extending that research to agricultural areas in the West, Dr. Kuivila and her colleagues collected water and sediment samples from sites near three agricultural areas growing potatoes, stone fruits, or lettuce””three crops that, combined, account for half of U.S. fungicide use. In southwestern Idaho, two or more fungicides appeared in almost one-third of the samples from irrigation ditches and streams near a stretch of potato farms. In California’s Central Valley, the researchers found that more than half of the water and sediments collected from the San Joaquin River near stone-fruit orchards contained four or more fungicides. Fungicide incidences were similar for lettuce””growing areas of the central California coastland, and preliminary results indicate that crabs and flounder caught in nearby coastal river estuaries have fungicides in their tissues. While the types of fungicides varied, the scientists identified 18 compounds in the three settings, with six at trace levels.

“Some of these compounds degrade slowly and may persist in the environment for months or years,” said Dr. Kuivila. Furthermore, “the majority of information on toxicity relates to single compounds, but in combinations they may have additive effects.”

This research fills in the gaps concerning fungicides in the environment. Fungicides, typically used in smaller quantities compared with other types pesticides, however there use as increased in recent years. Less than 1% of U.S. soybeans were treated with a fungicide in 2002, but by 2006, 4% were treated. This increase is due to the constant pressure from fungal diseases such as the recent soybean rust outbreak, and the always-present desire to increase crop yields.

Previous USGS reports have documented pesticides and fertilizers in U.S. waters. Low levels of pesticides have also been detected in drinking water. Herbicides like atrazine, metalachlor, and simizine are among those often found in surface waters of 186 rivers and streams sampled by USGS since the early 1990s, and are highly correlated with the presence of upstream wastewater sources or upstream agricultural and urban land use.

The USGS is a non-regulatory agency which often monitors the quality of available, untreated water resources. These studies begin to relate the quality of these resources to drinking water. USGS studies are intended to complement drinking-water monitoring required by Federal, State, and local programs, which focus primarily on post-treatment compliance monitoring.

For more information on water quality, read Beyond Pesticides’ Threatened Waters.

Source: Chemical and Engineering News

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16
Nov

Prenatal Proximity to Certain Crops Linked to Reduced Head Circumference

(Beyond Pesticides, November 16, 2010) A French study published November 15, 2010 in the journal Environmental Health finds that pregnant women living in a municipality where peas or potatoes are grown have an increased risk of giving birth to an infant with a small head circumference. Head circumference also tends to be lower where wheat is grown, but not to statistically significant degree. The study finds no association between head circumference and proximity to other crops. The study’s authors suggest that pesticides, specifically organophosphates (OPs), are a possible cause. OPs were applied to most of the area devoted to pea and potato crops, but used less frequently in areas growing corn and wheat.

The study, “Impact on fetal growth of prenatal exposure to pesticides due to agricultural activities: a prospective cohort study in Brittany, France,” utilized a prospective birth cohort of 3421 pregnant women in a French agricultural region (Brittany, 2002-2006) through gynecologists, ultrasonographers, and maternity hospitals during routine prenatal care visits before 19 weeks of gestation. The national agricultural census in 2000 provided the percentages of the municipality area devoted to cultivation of corn, wheat, colza, peas, potatoes, and fresh vegetables.

The link between exposure to pesticides and birth outcomes, including birth weight, preterm birth and birth defects has been documented in the scientific literature and the national media. The issue received widespread attention in 2005 when three babies were born with severe birth defects in Florida to mothers who all worked for Ag-Mart Produce, a company that produces chemically-treated tomatoes and other agricultural products. In April 2009, a study by Paul Winchester, MD, published in the medical journal Acta Paediatrica reported that the highest rates of birth defects for U.S. babies arise when conception occurs during the spring and summer months, when pesticide use increases and high concentrations of pesticides are found in surface waters. The study entitled, “Agrichemicals in surface water and birth defects in the United States” was the first study to link increased seasonal concentration of pesticides in surface water with the peak in birth defects in infants conceived in the same months. Dr. Winchester presented his data at Beyond Pesticides’ 2010 National Pesticide Forum. A transcript of the talk, “Reproductive Effects Peak with Pesticide Exposure,” appears in the Fall 2010 issue of Pesticides and You.

Beyond Pesticides documents the link between pesticide exposure and health outcomes, including birth defects and fetal problems, in its Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database. The Database facilitates access to epidemiologic and laboratory studies based on real world exposure scenarios that link pesticides to asthma, autism and learning disabilities, birth defects and reproductive dysfunction, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, and several types of cancer. The current database, which contains hundreds of studies, itself is preliminary and will be added to over the coming months. We urge readers to send studies to [email protected] that you think should be added to the database.

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15
Nov

Triclosan in Waterways Harmful to Important Microorganisms

(Beyond Pesticides, November 15, 2010) A new study suggests the widespread use of the antimicrobial triclosan may be inhibiting the aquatic bacteria and algae needed for a healthy ecosystem. Triclosan is an antibacterial compound found in a wide variety of household products including soaps, cosmetics, toothpaste, flooring, textiles, and even children’s toys.

According to the study entitled “Triclosan persistence through wastewater treatment plants and its potential toxic effects on river biofilms,” when triclosan finds its way into rivers and streams it can inhibit photosynthesis in algae and kill bacteria. The study examined a group of algae known as diatoms. Through photosynthesis, diatoms produce food as well as oxygen needed for other organisms. Diatoms produce an estimated 80 percent of the oxygen in our atmosphere making them essential to life on earth.

When introduced to the market in 1972, triclosan was confined to hospital and health care settings. Aided by the false public perception that antibacterial products are best to protect and safeguard against potential harmful bacteria, triclosan has since exploded in the marketplace in hundreds of consumer products ranging from antibacterial soaps, deodorants, toothpastes, cosmetics, fabrics, toys, and other household and personal care products. Due to the prevalence of this antibacterial, triclosan can now easily find its way from household products into the ecosystem. When a product such as soap is rinsed down the drain, it ends up at a sewage treatment facility. Such facilities are not designed to eliminate organic compounds such as pharmaceuticals or antibacterials, so these compounds end up in nearby waterbodies. Triclosan concentrations in treated wastewater can range from 0.027 – 2.7 micrograms per liter.

Researchers tested the effects of various triclosan concentrations on naturally-occurring microbial communities gathered from a river in northeast Spain. Bacterial populations were reduced at the lowest tested concentration of 0.5 micrograms per liter. At a concentration of 5 micrograms per liter triclosan was found to be toxic to diatoms, inhibiting photosynthesis.

This study is part of a growing collection of scientific data showing the dangers of triclosan outweigh its benefits. An article in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, entitled “Consumer Antibacterial Soaps: Effective or Just Risky?” (2007), concludes that antibacterial soaps show no health benefits over plain soaps. This follows a recommendation by the FDA Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee on October 20, 2005 in a statement that antibacterial soaps and washes are no more effective than regular soap and water in fighting infections.

Dial Corp was recently hit with a class action suit over claims that its antibacterial soap Dial Complete, which contains triclosan, kills 99.99% of germs. The plaintiff, David Walls, stated in his suit that there are no reliable studies that show Dial Complete lives up to these claims.

Studies have found that triclosan contributes to the increasing rates of bacterial resistance. Triclosan persists in the environment and in human bodies, and has endocrine disrupting properties and causes adverse health problems in humans and wildlife species.

A recent study raises concern that triclosan interferes with human fetal growth and development. Researchers found that triclosan interferes with estrogen metabolism in women and can disrupt a vital enzyme during pregnancy. Data indicates that only a small amount of triclosan can be dangerous to an unborn baby.

Based on these numerous human and environmental health concerns, Beyond Pesticides in partnership with Food and Water Watch and 78 other groups, submitted petitions to both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requiring that they ban all non-medically prescribed triclosan uses on the basis that those uses violate several federal statutes. FDA recently stated that “existing data raise valid concerns about the [health] effects of repetitive daily human exposure to these antiseptic ingredients.” FDA announced that it plans to review data concerning triclosan. EPA maintains that the agency does not currently plan to reevaluate its regulations surrounding the use of triclosan until 2013. [Triclosan is jointly regulated by FDA and EPA.]

TAKE ACTION: Join the ban triclosan campaign and sign the pledge to stop using triclosan today. Avoid products containing triclosan, and encourage your local schools, government agencies, and local businesses to use their buying power to go triclosan-free. Urge your municipality, institution or company to adopt the model resolution which commits to not procuring or using products containing triclosan. For more information about triclosan and the campaign, visit our Triclosan Program page.

Source: Environmental Health News

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12
Nov

New Draft Guidance for Pesticide Law in NY Released

(Beyond Pesticides, November 12, 2010) On November 14, new restrictions that ban the outdoor use of pesticides on playgrounds or playing fields in New York will go into effect. In preparation for these new requirements, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released draft guidance on October 27. This guidance is intended to instruct schools and day care centers on compliance with the new law, by providing information on its requirements and on allowable alternatives to pesticides for grounds maintenance.

The Child Safe Playing Field Act, which was enacted in May 2010, requires that all schools, preschools, and day care centers both public and private to stop using pesticides on any playgrounds or playing fields. The law allows for emergency application of pesticides for infestations if the County Health Department, the Commissioner of Health, the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation or the school board deems it an emergency. Containerized nonvolatile bait stations are also permitted for insect and rodent control. “The archaic practice of poisoning children’s playgrounds is coming to an end in New York State. We will now raise a generation of healthier, safer children because of this legislation,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, Citizens’ Campaign for the Environment.

The draft guidance addresses five subjects, to provide information on the new requirements and how to comply:
A. Summary of requirements of Chapter 85 and identification of involved State agencies.
B. Information on how to maintain child-safe playing fields and turf without pesticides, to assist in complying with the new pesticide prohibition, including an introduction to alternative approaches to grounds maintenance and pest management and concepts about soil and plant health.
C. Brief description of the types of pesticide products allowed under the new law and ways to identify them.
D. Identification of agencies that schools and day care centers should contact to request an emergency pesticide application determination, as well as the basic framework for situations which will be considered an emergency by the NYS DOH and NYS DEC.
E. List of responsible State agencies and contact information for questions.

Take Action (New York): Comments on the draft guidance are being accepted until November 29, 2010. Comments should be submitted to: Mary A. Roy, NYS DEC – Division of Materials Management, 625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233-7257, e-mailed to [email protected] or faxed to (518) 402-9024.

Take Action (Nationally): It is time for a national policy that would protect every child in the United States from pesticide exposure at school. Federal legislation, the School Environment Protection Act of 2009 (SEPA), has been introduced by Rep. Rush Holt and would protect school children from pesticides used both indoors and on all school grounds nationwide. The legislation also bans the use of synthetic fertilizers. To learn more about this legislation and help its passage, see Beyond Pesticides’ SEPA webpage.

Source: NYS DEC Environmental Notice Bulletin

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