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Pesticide Poisoning of Lobsters Leads to Indictment

Monday, November 14th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, November 14, 2011) Environment Canada’s enforcement division has indicted the multinational firm Cooke Aquaculture and three of its senior officials on eleven criminal charges stemming from illegal pesticide applications that spread to sicken and kill wild lobsters. The indictment alleges that in 2009 Cooke applied cypermethrin, a pesticide prohibited for use in aquatic settings in Canada, to control sea lice infestations in open water salmon net pens. The alleged applications occurred in the Passamaquoddy Bay which separates the Canadian province of New Brunswick from Maine and feeds into the Bay of Fundy. After dead and weakened lobsters were discovered in Canadian waters in the fall of 2009 and early 2010, Environment Canada linked the incidents to cypermethrin exposure and raided eight Cooke facilities. A conviction on the first count could result in a fine of $1 million with subsequent counts punishable by a $1 million fine or three years in prison, or both. Cypermethrin is a synthetic pyrethroid used for insect control in a number of agricultural and structural pest management settings. EPA has identified cypermethrin as a possible human carcinogen and classifies formulated pesticides containing it as slightly or moderately toxic. According to Susan Shaw, Ph.D., director […]

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Mosquito Pesticide Suspected in Lobster Deaths

Friday, October 7th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, October 7, 2011) Commercial lobster fishers operating in Long Island Sound off the coast of Connecticut have begun to suspect that the mosquito killing chemical methoprene, sprayed by neighboring New York State as part of its West Nile virus (WNv) control program, is contributing to widespread deaths of lobsters in the sound. Believing that a large amount of the chemical flowed into the sound in late summer due to heavy rains from Hurricane Irene, the lobster fishers are asking New York to follow Connecticut’s example and switch its WNv control method to the less toxic bacillus thuringiensis. Late summer declines in the sound’s lobster population have been alarmingly common throughout much of the last decade, devastating fishers and the local economy that depends on them. A number of factors have been blamed, but the lobstering community has increasingly been pointing to mosquito pesticides for several reasons. Methoprene has a tendency to sink to the bottom of the ocean water, where lobsters live and feed. Additionally, lobsters are a distant cousin of mosquitoes, and the methoprene acts on them in much the same way that it does the insects. Finally, the western part of the sound was the hardest […]

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Research Shows Commonly Used Pesticides Produce Greater Toxic Effect When Mixed

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, August 11, 2011) A combination of eleven different kinds of commonly used pyrethroids were tested on mice in a new study which found that, at real-world exposure levels, the insecticides can produce heightened toxicity that is equal to the sum of each insecticide’s individual effect. The mixture of similar-acting insecticides works by over-stimulating electronic channels in the mouse’s brain cells and eventually causing death. This study adds to the growing body of research on the toxicity of pesticide combinations in nature and showcases the need for policy change because the current risk assessment approach to regulating pesticides fails to look at chemical mixtures and synergistic effects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently regulates on a chemical-by-chemical basis, but as this study demonstrates, interacting chemicals can have synergistic effects at very low levels, where a “chemical cocktail” of multiple interacting chemicals combine to have greater effects than expected. Pesticides can also have a cumulative “toxic loading” effect both in the immediate and long term. Researchers exposed mice brain cells to eleven different food-use pyrethroid insecticides either singly or in a mixture in the study entitled ”Additivity of pyrethroid actions on sodium influx in cerebrocortical neurons in primary culture.” […]

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Deltamethrin Approved for New Brunswick Salmon Fisheries

Monday, October 25th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, October 25,2010) In an effort to control sea lice in farmed Atlantic salmon Health Canada has approved a request by the province of New Brunswick to use the pesticide Alphamax, whose active ingredient is deltamethrin. The high concentrations of salmon in aquaculture facilities has lead to major problems with sea lice, a type of parasitic crustacean that attaches to the fish. Health Canada has approved the use of the restricted pesticide deltamethrin through December of this year. While many salmon farmers are pleased, the decision by Canada’s federal agency has many local fishermen concerned about the effects the pesticide will have on fish and shellfish populations. “Basically we are shocked in a nutshell,” said Grand Manan Fishermen’s Association project manager Melanie Sonnenberg, adding, “Dsappointed doesn’t cover it.” The use of deltamethrin will be restricted to tarped cages or well boats, boats with large holds. Treatment would involve placing fish in the boats, bathing them in Alphamax and releasing them back into cages along with the treated water. The industry is ready to start using the treatment in the Bay of Fundy. Fish farmers have been challenged in controlling sea lice outbreaks this summer, particularly in the upper Passamaquoddy […]

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Salmon Farms Probed for Illegal Pesticide Use Linked to Lobster Deaths

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, October 19, 2010) In addition to the ongoing investigation into the death of nearly 1,000 lobsters last fall around waters in New England and Canada, Environment Canada is now investigating the possible release of a pesticide that is not permitted for use in Canada. The pesticide, cypermethrin, is used in the U.S., including Maine, to control sea lice outbreaks in salmon farms, a practice under investigation. Cypermethrin is toxic to lobsters, and fishermen associations have been calling for the elimination of the use of pesticides in the marine environment. Fish farmers have been challenged in controlling sea lice outbreaks this summer, particularly in the upper Passamaquoddy Bay area. They have been using other chemicals to control the outbreaks, including hydrogen peroxide, Salmosan (azamethiphos), SLICE (emamectin benzoate) and Calicide (teflubenzuron). New Brunswick aquaculture organizations have maintained that fish farmers do not use cypermethrin, which is not permitted for use there. The New Brunswick Salmon Growers Association referred to the cocktail of pesticides used on salmon farms as “medicine” and referred to salmon farming techniques as “natural.” However, shoddy farming practices, such as growing too many fish per site and having too many sites in the same area, can lead […]

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Study Highlights High Levels of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Indoor Air

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, September 14, 2010) A new study confirms that indoor uses of consumer products, including pesticides, are the primary sources of indoor exposure to endocrine disruptors —chemicals that disrupt hormones and cause adverse developmental, disease, and reproductive problems— and shows that indoor levels are higher than those outdoors. Researchers from Silent Spring Institute, Columbia University, and the University of California-Berkeley measured airborne concentrations of endocrine disruptors in two California communities: Bolinas, a rural, affluent coastal town, and Richmond, a working-class city ringed by oil refineries. The study is published online in the September 1, 2010 issue of Environmental Science & Technology. The researchers analyzed 104 chemicals in 50 homes, including both chemicals that penetrate indoors from outdoor industrial and transportation sources and those from indoor use of consumer products and building materials. Similar levels of contamination were found inside homes in both communities, but outdoor levels were higher in Richmond. Among the chemicals found were pesticides, phthalates, parabens, PBDE flame retardants, and PCBs. A total of 38 pesticides are evaluated, including banned organochlorines (e.g., DDT, PCP), and current use products such as carbamates (e.g., propoxur), organophosphates (e.g., chlorpyrifos), and pyrethroids (cypermethrin). Thirteen pesticides were detected outdoors and sixteen pesticides […]

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Pesticides in Bay Cause of Concern for Local Fisherman

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, February 18, 2010) Hundreds of dead and dying lobsters just north of the Gulf of Maine were found to have been exposed to cypermethrin, a highly toxic synthetic pyrethroid pesticide registered for agricultural and residential use that some officials think may have been illegally used in fish farming. However, the chemical, which is primarily used for indoor insect control and termites, is extremely toxic to fish and aquatic organisms and part of a family of pesticides (synthetic pyrethroids) that is increasingly showing up in water bodies at toxic levels, a cause for concern according to scientists. Area fisherman are angry and concerned, however investigators are not yet certain just how this pesticide wound up in the Bay of Fundy, which is located between the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The first dead lobsters were discovered last fall in Grand Manan’s Seal Cove, and only a few days later fisherman found dead lobsters in two different locations in the Bay, including about 816 kilograms of dying or dead lobsters in Deer Island’s Fairhaven Harbour. This prompted an investigation by Environment Canada that began on December 22, 2009. The department looked at samples of crab, kelp, mussels […]

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CDC Issues Fourth National Report on Body Burden of Toxic Chemicals

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, December 16, 2009) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published its Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals – the most comprehensive assessment to date of the exposure of the U.S. population to chemicals in our environment. CDC measures 212 chemicals in people’s blood or urine – 75 of which have been measured for the first time in the U.S. population. One of the new chemicals included in this report is triclosan, a common and hazardous antibacterial agent. In this Fourth Report, 75 new chemicals were added. Chemicals in the Fourth Report include metals such as lead, cadmium, uranium, mercury, and speciated forms of arsenic; environmental phenols such as bisphenol-A (BPA); acrylamide; perfluorinated chemicals; polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs); polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); volatile organic compounds such as benzene, styrene and methyl tert-butyl ether; pesticides; phthalates; and dioxins, furans and related chemicals. The data analyzed in the Fourth Report are based on blood and urine samples that were collected from approximately 2400 people who participated in CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2003 through 2004. NHANES is an ongoing national health survey of the non-institutionalized U.S. population that includes collecting and […]

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Urban Insecticide Use Linked to Decline of Delta Ecosystem

Friday, July 17th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, July 17, 2009) High levels of pyrethroid pesticides in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the number one river system on America’s Most Endangered Rivers List of 2009, has been linked to heavy urbanization in the region. Leading a study to understand the collapse of the delta’s ecosystem, University of California-Berkeley toxicologist Donald Weston, Ph.D. found that these pesticides most likely reached the river from urban storm drains, collecting household pesticide disposal and runoff from lawns of 1.4 million residents in the Sacramento region. Five years ago, a study by Dr. Weston and his colleague Michael J. Lydy, Ph.D of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale found that synthetic phyrethroids were collecting in river and creek sediments at levels that are toxic to bottom dwelling fish. Current research holds that there are enough pyrethroids to kill tiny shrimp, which are said to be the first link in the aquatic food chain. Pyrethroids are synthetic versions of pyrethrin, a natural insecticide found in certain species of chrysanthemum. It initially came on the market as a ”˜safer’ alternative to the heavily regulated and highly toxic organophosphates, such as diazinon and chlorypyrifos. Despite the fact that there are plenty of effective pest control […]

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Study Finds that Pesticides Linger in Homes

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, June 17, 2009) A new study finds that toxic pesticides, including those already banned, persist in homes. The study’s results indicate that most floors in occupied homes in the U.S. have measurable levels of insecticides that serve as sources of exposure to home dwellers. These persistent residues continue to expose people, especially vulnerable children, to the health risks associated with these chemicals. Published in Environmental Science and Technology, the study, entitled “American Healthy Homes Survey: A National Study of Residential Pesticides Measured from Floor Wipes,” was conducted as a collaboration between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Five hundred randomly selected homes were sampled using alcohol wipes to collect dust from hard surface floors, mostly kitchen floor surfaces. The swipes were analyzed for 24 currently and previously use residential insecticides in the organochlorine, organophosphate, pyrethroid and phenylpyrazole classes, and the insecticide synergist piperonyl butoxide. Researchers found that currently used pyrethroid pesticides were, not surprisingly, at the highest levels with varied concentrations. Fipronil and permethrin, both currently used, were found in 40 percent and 89 percent of homes respectively. However, the researchers found that long discontinued pesticides like DDT and […]

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New California Pesticide Poisoning Data Shows Increase

Monday, April 6th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, April 6, 2009) Despite an earlier report showing a decrease in pesticide use in the state, pesticide-related illnesses and injuries in California have doubled in 2007 from 2006, according to new data from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). The 2007 pesticide exposure data also shows that twice as many illnesses investigated are associated with non-agricultural pesticide use than are reported for agricultural purposes. A total of 45 percent of the illnesses investigated are associated with pesticide exposure to structural, sanitation and home garden pesticide use, while 22 percent are associated with agricultural pesticide use. The 2007 illness and incident data show that 1,479 illnesses were investigated and 66 percent, or 982 cases, were linked to pesticide exposure. For 157 cases, information was unavailable for investigation follow-up, yet, should not necessarily be discounted. The major findings of the data show that:  The majority of pesticide illnesses are associated with chlorpyrifos, malathion, chlorine, and cypermethrin;  The largest number of pesticide illnesses were from pesticide drift;  For occupational cases, the most common activity during pesticide exposure were for applicators and fieldworkers;  For non-occupational cases, the most common activity during exposure were being in an indoor […]

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Pyrethroid Pesticides Found in Homes and Daycare Centers

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

(Beyond Pesticides, November 3, 2008) A new study, Pyrethroid pesticides and their metabolites in vacuum cleaner dust collected from homes and day-care centers (doi:10.1016/j.envres.2008.07.022), by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Exposure Research Laboratory finds concentrations of 13 synthetic pyrethroids and their degradates in indoor dust collected from homes and childcare centers in North Carolina and Ohio. The study results show the extent to which hazardous pesticides are present in indoor environments and threaten the public’s health, especially the health of children. With 85 vacuum cleaner bags analyzed, permethrin was present in all 85 dust samples, at least one pyrethroid pesticide was found in 69 samples and phenothrin was found in 36 samples. According to the study findings published in the November issue of the journal Environmental Research, the median concentration of permethrin in the samples is 1454ng/g of dust. Excluding permethrin, pyrethroid conectrations are less than or equal to 100ng/g of dust. The majority of the metabolites are present in more than half of the dust samples. This is not the first time researchers have found pesticides in dust in homes. A study published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health (208: 193-199) also found that […]

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Honeybees Vanish, Threatening Crops and Livelihoods

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

(Beyond Pesticides, March 1, 2007) In 24 states throughout the country, beekeepers have been shocked to find that bees have been inexplicably disappearing at an alarming rate, according to an article in the New York Times last week. This loss of honeybees threatens not only beekeeper livelihoods but also the production of numerous crops, including California almonds, one of the nation’s most profitable crops. Although the reasons for the honeybee disappearances are unknown, pesticides may be one of the culprits. “I have never seen anything like it,” David Bradshaw, a California beekeeper, said. “Box after box after box are just empty. There’s nobody home.” Last month he discovered that half of his 100 million bees were missing. Beekeepers have fought regional bee crises before, but this is the first national affliction. Bees are flying off in search of pollen and nectar and simply never returning to their colonies. And nobody knows why. Researchers say the bees are presumably dying in the fields, perhaps becoming exhausted or simply disoriented and eventually falling victim to the cold. As researchers scramble to find answers to the syndrome they have decided to call “colony collapse disorder,” growers are becoming openly nervous about the capability […]

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