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Breast Cancer Rates Higher Among African American Women from Disproportionate Chemical Exposure

Thursday, February 25th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2021) A University of Michigan study finds a link between elevated rates of breast cancer incidents and chemical exposure from pesticides among African American women. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, causing the second most cancer-related deaths in the United States. However, breast cancer outcomes differ significantly among women of various races/ethnicities, with African American women being 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than women of any other race. Furthermore, incidences of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC)—an aggressive breast cancer subtype lacking remediation—is approximately three-fold higher in non-Hispanic Black women (NHBW) compared to non-Hispanic White women (NHWW). Although past studies suggest genetic and environmental factors interact to produce these differences in breast cancer outcomes, genetic factors only play a minor role while disparities (differences) in external factors (i.e., chemical exposure) may play a more notable role. This study highlights the significance of understanding how chemical exposure drives disease outcomes and increases disease risk, especially for more virulent diseases that disproportionately (unequally) impact specific communities. Prior research infers differences in chemical exposure may explain racial disparities for several illnesses, and growing evidence suggests common chemical exposure patterns influence the risk of breast cancer. […]

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Glyphosate and Other Weed Killers Create Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in Agricultural Soils

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 24, 2021) Soil sprayed with weedkillers glyphosate, glufosinate, or dicamba are likely to contain higher amounts of antibiotic resistant bacteria, according to research published earlier this month in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution. Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people develop an antibiotic resistant infection, and over 23,000 die. Authors of the study say widespread herbicide use is likely playing a role. “Our results suggest that the use of herbicides could indirectly drive antibiotic resistance evolution in agricultural soil microbiomes, which are repeatedly exposed to herbicides during weed control,” said Ville Friman, PhD of the University of York in the United Kingdom. Scientists began their investigation by looking at changes to soil communities in soil microcosms over the course of a roughly two months. Microcosms were grouped by the herbicide applied, while a control microcosm remained unexposed. Each microcosm had a single herbicide applied at a rate reaching 10 parts per million (ppm) in soil. The researchers replicated each treatment 12 times. Contrary to the pesticide industry’s claim that these chemicals break down quickly and become inert by binding to soil particles, large proportions of the herbicides remained in the soil at […]

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Persistent Organic Pollutants like Organochlorine Pesticides Pose Health Risk to Rare Giant Panda Subspecies

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2021) Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)—including banned pesticides—present a health risk to the endangered Qinling Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca qinlingensis), the rarest subspecies of giant pandas, according to a new Chinese study published in Environmental Pollution. Organochlorine compounds (OCs), such as organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), are well-known persistent organic pollutants. They were banned by the Stockholm Convention treaty in 2001 and are primary pollutants of concern (UNEP, 2009) because of their persistence, toxicity, and adverse effects on environmental and biological health. These pollutants have a global distribution, with evaporation and precipitation facilitating long-range atmospheric transport, deposition, and bioaccumulation of hazardous chemicals in the environment. The U.S. was a signatory to the treaty, but U.S. Senate never ratified it, relegating U.S. officials to observer status. Although various studies demonstrate the volatile, toxic nature of POPs, much less research evaluates the impact POPs have on biodiversity over time. The globe is currently going through the Holocene Extinction, Earth’s 6th mass extinction, with one million species of plants and animals at risk. With the increasing rate of biodiversity loss, advocates say it is essential for government agencies to research how previous and ongoing use of POPs can impact present-day species. Likewise, collaborative, […]

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Will Biden Reverse Last Minute Trump EPA Approval of the Deadly Insecticide Aldicarb, Previously Cancelled?

Friday, January 22nd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, January 22, 2021) After the past four devastating years, hopes and expectations of the Biden/Harris administration abound among the environmental and public health communities. The ears and eyes of many advocates, as well as those in the agricultural community, are attuned (among myriad candidates) to the fate of the pesticide aldicarb. Although Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration of this terribly toxic insecticide was cancelled in 2010, various limited-use reapprovals since then have meant that the compound has found its way to increasing levels of use. On January 12, as another parting shot of midnight rulemaking, Trump’s EPA approved expanded uses (see below). The $64,000 question is whether the new administration will use its authority under the Congressional Review Act — which enables Congress to pass a joint resolution (then signed by the President) to overturn a new federal agency rule and prevent its reissuance in the future — to get this pesticide retired for good. Beyond Pesticides urges President Biden’s EPA to do so. Notably, the Trump administration used the Congressional Review Act to destroy myriad environmental rules when it came into power. This permitting of expanded aldicarb uses fits the pattern. Environmental Health News notes that, as of early […]

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We Honor Martin Luther King Today

Monday, January 18th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2021) We honor Martin Luther King, Jr. today on Martin Luther King Day—a day of national service with volunteer opportunities across the nation. During this day of reflection, consider reading Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” or listening to it here. At Beyond Pesticides, our vision and work aligns with the vision Dr. King expressed—“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” To that end, we seek to eliminate disproportionate risk, with elevated toxic hazards to people of color communities, with higher rates of pesticide-induced diseases among those who live in fenceline communities where chemicals are produced, among farmworkers who harvest the nation’s food, and among landscapers who manage our parks and children’s playing fields. We seek to transform national laws that allow risks under risk assessments that institutionalize environmental racism by allowing for this disproportionate risk. We seek to eliminate toxic pesticides production and use through the adoption of organic land management. To that end, we work with communities across the country to transition their land management to organic practices and we advance organic standards under the Organic Foods Production Act that have integrity and are fully enforced. Eliminating Toxic Pesticides with Organic Transformation […]

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Open Letter to Biden-Appointed USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack: Moving Forward, Meeting Challenges, Correcting the Past

Monday, December 14th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, December 14, 2020) As the President-elect chooses the leadership in his administration, it is critical that we in the affected communities establish our expectations of what is needed from agencies to address critical issues of the day. While we may feel that different choices of personnel could have been made, ultimately we are looking forward to advancing programs across all agencies that represent meaningful and foundational changes to our social, economic, and environmental norms. As we focus on the appointment of a Secretary of Agriculture, issues of foundational change come into sharp focus, relating to sustainable land management, distribution of resources and access to land, food security, protection of human and ecosystem health, and climate. It is normal, therefore, to look at any individual appointee’s past performance and positions as a measure of future decisions or policies that may be advanced. Ultimately, though, it is the administration that sets the tone, establishes a framework, and forges the direction of the government’s programs and policies. President-elect Biden has talked about a framework for policy to which we can and must hold all officials in the administration accountable across all agencies. These key elements of the framework intersect with the […]

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Tell President-elect Biden to Adopt a New Direction for Pesticide Regulation

Monday, December 7th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, December 7, 2020) The Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed in four years much of the progress made by EPA in decades, and that push continues. The Biden EPA needs to advance a new vision. Tell President-elect Biden to adopt a new direction for pesticide regulation. Challenge so-called “benefits” of pesticides. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requires EPA to weigh risks against benefits when registering pesticides. Claimed “benefits” for toxic pesticides need to be judged in comparison to organic production, which is able to produce all types of food and feed. The Organic Trade Association reports that organic sales now exceed $55 billion per year, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finds that organic producers in the U.S. produced $9.9 billion worth of organic food on 5.5 million acres in 2019. EPA assumes benefits of pesticides, rather than measuring them, and does not take into account the development of resistance. The cost-competitive success of organic food production and nonagricultural land management practices make the case that toxic pesticides lack benefits. Protect pollinators. Agriculture relies on insect pollinators to facilitate fertilization and maintain annual crop yield. Globally, the production of crops dependent on pollinators is worth […]

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Tell President-elect Biden We Need an Environmental Leader to Head the EPA

Monday, November 30th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2020) The “environment” is central to President-elect Biden’s priorities: climate change, COVID-19, and the next pandemic, racial equity, and economic recovery. The new administration should include an EPA administrator who understands the relationships among these and other environmental issues and has a clear vision of the changes needed to dramatically change our course, currently heading for ecological destruction. Tell President-elect Biden to appoint an EPA Administrator who is an environmentalist with broad environmental credentials and a vision that embraces a dramatic transition away from hazardous chemicals and polluting practices at this perilous time. Let’s start with what the past four years has taught us about who we do NOT want as EPA Administrator. We do not want an industry lobbyist, someone whose work has been funded with industry money, who has represented industry in litigation or as a lobbyist, who has attacked environmentalists, or has never read Silent Spring. Such a person is not qualified to provide the leadership needed to address priority issues and understand the interconnections necessary to address the crises associated with climate, health, and biodiversity decline. On the other hand, a strong candidate will support holistic thinking, with an understanding of interrelationships in […]

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Flea Treatment Pesticides Found to Contaminate Waterways

Friday, November 20th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, November 20, 2020) Many pet owners likely do not consider what is actually in the flea treatments they administer to their animals. That should change, and recent research demonstrates why. Scientists sampling rivers in England found extreme contamination with two neurotoxic pesticides commonly used in flea products for dogs and cats: fipronil and the neonicotinoid imidacloprid. In many instances, the concentrations in the waterways were far higher than accepted “safe” levels. Though these compounds are banned for agricultural uses in the United Kingdom (UK), risk assessment for them, as used on animals, has been minimal because of the assumption that the amounts used for veterinary treatments would mean far-less-significant environmental impact than might be expected with agricultural-scale use. This research out of the University of Sussex voids that assumption, and the researchers recommend “re-evaluation of the environmental risks posed by pet parasite products, and a reappraisal of the risk assessments that these products undergo prior to regulatory approval.”   Apart from being an active ingredient in flea treatments for pets, fipronil is used in insect baits, and in turf management and agriculture in the U.S. It is highly toxic to insects, including bees, to birds, and to aquatic invertebrates. […]

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Pesticide Exposure Increases the Risk of Developing Gene-Specific and Sporadic Parkinson’s Disease Incidences

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, November 5, 2020) Research at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) finds that pesticide exposure increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD), regardless of whether disease onset is idiopathic (spontaneous) or genetic (GBA genetic risk variant). Although the exact etiology of PD remains unknown, epidemiological and toxicological research repeatedly identifies exposure to pesticides, as well as specific gene-pesticide interactions, as significant adverse risk factors that contribute to PD. Furthermore, this study, “Gene Variants May Affect PD Risk After Pesticide Exposure,” suggests that environmental triggers like occupational exposure to pesticides can prompt PD in individuals with or without the genetic precursor. This research demonstrates the importance of assessing disease etiology concerning occupational pesticide exposure, especially if disease triggers are overwhelmingly non-hereditary. Since not all individuals genetically predisposed to the disease develop PD, with only 10 to 15 percent of PD cases being genetic, government officials need to consider alternate etiological pathways that include environmental risk factors. Study researchers note, “‘Environmental exposures may have differential effects in different genotypes’ and may predispose people with PD to different symptom burden.”  Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, with at least one million Americans living with PD and about […]

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After Court Rules Herbicide “Would Tear the Social Fabric of Farming Communities,” Dicamba in Genetically Engineered Crops Given Go-Ahead by EPA

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, November 4, 2020) Despite a recent court ruling voiding the registration of drift-prone dicamba herbicides on genetically engineered (GE) cotton and soybeans, EPA has renewed  the registration of these chemicals. The court’s ruling stated that EPA, “substantially understated risks that it acknowledged and failed entirely to acknowledge other risks,” in regards to the herbicides XtendiMax and Eugenia (dicamba), produced by agrichemical corporations Bayer and BASF for their genetically engineered (GE) crops. In announcing the decision, Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the agency made its decision “[a]fter reviewing substantial amounts of new information, conducting scientific assessments based on the best available science, and carefully considering input from stakeholders.” Yet, it is evident that the most important stakeholders for EPA continues to be chemical corporations. The history of dicamba’s use in GE agriculture reveal this to be the case. In the mid-2010s, Bayer’s Monsanto developed new dicamba-tolerant seeds and received approval to sell them from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. EPA had not yet approved its corresponding herbicide, but nonetheless, Bayer’s Monsanto urged farmers to plant its seed, claiming they would increase yields. The results of this were predictable: farmers began to use older, unapproved dicamba formulations on their new GE […]

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EPA Finalizes Industry Friendly Rules Weakening Pesticide Buffer Zones

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

Application Exclusion Zones (AEZs) are buffer zones where individuals are not permitted to enter during a pesticide application, as doing so would put one at risk of dangerous exposure. EPA proposed, and has now finalized, a number of changes to the way AEZs work. The agency is: i) removing responsibility for chemical-intensive farms to keep bystanders out of off-site spray areas; ii) allowing pesticide applications to stop and start when individuals enter and exit AEZs (rather than establish set safety requirements); iii) exempting on-farm families from AEZ protections, allowing dangerous pesticide applications to take place near buildings and other shelters where family members reside within an AEZ (“rather than compelling them to leave even when they feel safe remaining inside,” the agency notes in a disturbingly unscientific fashion), and; iv) “simplifies” or weakens criteria around determining the appropriate buffer size for an AEZ. Industry began pushing rollbacks to farmworker protections early in the current administration, starting with the 2017 announcement under former Administrator Pruitt that EPA would revise Worker Protection Standards initially agreed upon under the Obama Administration.  Not all of these efforts were successful, however, as 28 Senators pushed back in a 2018 letter opposing the agency’s revisions. “These […]

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New European Union Looks at Chemical Mixtures

Friday, October 30th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, October 30, 2020) The European Union (EU) adopted, in mid-October, a new strategy on chemicals — including pesticides — that seeks to deal with their combined (synergistic) and cumulative impacts on human and environmental health. A highlight of the new strategy is the acceleration of work, already begun across the EU, to address the “chemical cocktail” impacts of pesticides and other chemicals. Human exposures to such “cocktails” can happen through use of multiple different agricultural pesticides that can persist as residues on food, and via industrial processes and consumer products. Beyond Pesticides has insisted for years that, here in the states, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been way behind the eight ball in dealing with the potential synergistic and cumulative impacts of the pesticides its registers for use. Advocates have argued that the agency must be far more rigorous in evaluating impacts of exposures to multiple pesticides, as well as cumulative impacts. The toxicity problem the EU seeks to address is that interacting chemicals can have synergistic effects, even at very low levels — effects greater than and/or different from the expected impacts of each chemical per se. Pesticides can also have cumulative “toxic loading” effects in both […]

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Tell EPA to Quit Pushing Toxic Solutions, Especially in Schools 

Monday, October 26th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, October 26, 2020) A high percentage of the disinfectants approved by EPA for use against coronavirus contain quaternary ammonia compounds (quats). EPA’s approved list is used by schools and other institutions—unfortunately, without guidance for avoiding harmful effects. Quats are very toxic. They are especially dangerous in the context of a respiratory pandemic. Quats increase the risk for asthma and allergic sensitization. Evidence from occupational exposures shows increased risk of rhinitis and asthma with exposure to quats. Quats are on the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics list of asthmagens and may be a more potent asthmagen than bleach. Tell the EPA and Congress that EPA must not recommend toxic disinfectants without the context of their damaging impacts and other necessary protective measures. One quat, benzalkonium chloride, has also been associated with dermatitis. Quats appear to be sensitizers and irritants to the skin and mucous membranes and are suspected to display an immunologic cross-reactivity between each other and with other chemical compounds containing ammonium ion. Quats also are mutagenic and reproductive toxicants. Some quats have shown to be mutagenic and to damage animal DNA and DNA in human lymphocytes at much lower levels than are present in cleaning chemicals. […]

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New Insecticides Escalate Indiscriminate Harm to All Organisms

Friday, October 9th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, October 9, 2020) A new study demonstrates that emerging “novel” insecticides can cause significant, sublethal harm to beneficial organisms at typical “real life” exposure levels. As neonicotinoid insecticides have come under fire for their terrible impacts on a broad variety of beneficial insects — including their major contributions to the decline of critical pollinators — more such “novel” pesticides are being brought to market in response. The study results, the co-authors say, “confirm that bans on neonicotinoid use will only protect beneficial insects if paired with significant changes to the agrochemical regulatory process. A failure to modify the regulatory process will result in a continued decline of beneficial insects and the ecosystem services on which global food production relies.” Beyond Pesticides would add that the study outcome points, yet again, to the grave recklessness of the pervasive “addiction” to chemical pesticides in agriculture. The solution to this chemical morass is known, doable, and scalable: a transition to organic, regenerative agricultural practices that get everyone off the “toxic treadmill.” Neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics) are the class of chemical pesticides most commonly used worldwide, both on crops and as seed treatments. They are systemic, meaning they infiltrate all tissues of a […]

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Again: Trump Administration Needs to Listen to Science to Protect Farmers and the Environment (Instead of Special Interests)

Monday, October 5th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, October 5, 2020)  Another example of trading health and environmental protection for the support of special interests, EPA announces the misleading and fraudulently named, “EPA Supports Technology to Benefit America’s Farmers.” This time, EPA announces plans to “streamline the regulation of certain plant-incorporated protectants (PIPs).” Named to sow confusion, PIPs are plants engineered with pesticides in them. PIPs are known in general for two problems arising from incorporating pesticidal ingredients into crops: residues that cannot be washed off and production of crop-eating insects that are resistant to the incorporated pesticide that blankets the agricultural landscape.  Tell Congress that EPA needs to listen to science, not pesticide manufacturers and biotech companies that are causing problems for farmers and the environment. This time, EPA is proposing to exempt from regulation certain PIPs created by biotechnological techniques that are cisgenic (using genes derived from sexually compatible species), such as CRISPR. The distinction that EPA seeks to make between cisgenic plants and transgenic plants (in which the gene of interest may come from any species) is not supported by science. In fact, cisgenic techniques make use of genetic material other than the targeted genes, and that may come from species that are not […]

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Consumer Reports Study Rates Foods with Pesticide Residues; Doesn’t Include Worker, Environmental Justice, Biodiversity Impacts

Friday, September 18th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, September 18, 2020) In late August, Consumer Reports magazine (CR) issued a report titled, “Stop Eating Pesticides,” which offers consumers a rating system CR developed and employed to help them “get the health benefits from fruits and vegetables while minimizing [the] risk from toxic chemicals.” In addition to providing its analysis and ratings of the pesticide risk of a variety of produce items, CR recommends eating organically grown and raised foods whenever possible. It also makes a host of recommendations on federal pesticide policies and emphasizes the importance of maintaining the integrity of the National Organic Standards (of the USDA-housed National Organic Program). Beyond Pesticides appreciates that this mainstream publication has arrived at many shared, science-based assessments of the risks of pesticides. That said, a wholesale transition to organic and regenerative agriculture — rather than making the public figure out which fruits and vegetables are “safer” or “less safe” — is the real answer to the health risks of pesticides in the food supply, according to Beyond Pesticides. The CR analysis used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Pesticide Data Program for 2014–2018. Those pesticide residue data were compiled from tests of approximately 450 pesticides across 24,000 […]

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EPA Relied on Flawed Analysis to Allow Use of the Neurotoxic Insecticide Chlorpyrifos

Friday, August 21st, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, August 21, 2020) A foundational study of the toxic insecticide chlorpyrifos left critical data out of its analysis, resulting in decades of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “safe exposure limit” that is flat out wrong, new research says. That 1972 study concluded that the amount of the chemical to which a human could be exposed before adverse effects showed up (the “no observed adverse effect level,” or NOAEL) was more than twice as high as should have been determined had the study not ignored critical data. In addition, the study points to the perennial “fox and hen house” issues at EPA, which include using research commissioned, funded, or even conducted by industry as any basis for regulation. For years, Beyond Pesticides has rung the alarm on this very dangerous pesticide, and advocated for its ban nationwide. News of this omission from the 1972 “Coulston Study” comes from a team out of the University of Washington. The researchers re-analyzed that human intentional dosing study using both the original statistical methods and modern computational tools that did not exist in the 1970s. (An important side note: such a study is unethical by current research standards.) The new analysis finds two significant […]

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Court Decision Highlights Systemic Failure of Federal Pesticide Law to Protect Health and the Environment, Despite a Silver Lining and a Must-Read, Powerful Dissenting Opinion

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, August 11, 2020) Petitioners who mounted a legal challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) registration of Enlist Duo, a relatively new and highly toxic pesticide product, recently learned of a mixed decision from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case. The good news is that Judge Ryan D. Nelson, writing the opinion for the court, found that EPA, in registering the herbicide Enlist Duo, had failed to protect monarch butterflies, which are under consideration as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). On the other and disturbing hand, the court concluded that EPA registration of the product was otherwise lawful — which means that this toxic compound will for now remain on the market. As one of the plaintiffs in the case, Beyond Pesticides is adamant that this product should not be registered for use by EPA. George Kimbrell, Legal Director of Center for Food Safety and Lead Counsel for the plaintiffs, commented on the decision in the organization’s July 22 press release on the decision: “The panel majority’s unprecedented decision is contrary to controlling law and established science, and Center for Food Safety is analyzing all legal options, including seeking a full […]

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28 Pesticides Linked to Mammary Gland Cancer, Inadequately Reviewed by EPA

Friday, August 7th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, August 7, 2020) Research out of the Silent Spring Institute identifies 28 registered pesticides linked with development of mammary gland tumors in animal studies. Study authors Bethsaida Cardona and Ruthann Rudel also report that many of the pesticides they investigated behave as endocrine disruptors; breast cancers in humans are significantly influenced by hormones generated by the endocrine system. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledges that nine of these 28 pesticide compounds cause mammary tumors, but dismisses the evidence of the other 19. The results of this research, published in the journal Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, evince Beyond Pesticides’ long-standing argument that the risk assessment process used by EPA for its pesticide registration process is substantially inadequate to protect human health. The co-authors cite, as the catalyst for this research project, a Cape Cod resident’s outreach to the Silent Spring Institute several years ago, asking for information about the herbicide triclopyr because utility companies wanted to spray it on vegetation below local power lines. (The compound has also been used by the logging industry in the Pacific Northwest.) They reviewed more than 400 EPA pesticide documents on the health impacts of many registered pesticides for this research, conducted as part […]

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Long-Term Pesticide Exposure Linked to Hearing Loss in Farmworkers

Thursday, July 30th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, July 30, 2020) Simultaneous exposure to pesticides and noise from agricultural machinery increases farmworkers, risk of hearing loss, according to the study, “Hearing Loss in Agricultural Workers Exposed to Pesticides and Noise,” published in the journal Annals of Work Exposures and Health. Hearing loss is the 3rd most common health issue in the U.S., affecting eight million Americans. Although specific conditions like age, illness, and genetics, can mediate hearing loss, research suggests other factors can induce auricle (ear) damage, including medications, exposure to toxic chemicals (including pesticides), and loud, ongoing noise. Past studies find an association between hearing loss and pesticide exposure or noise exposure, alone. However, this study is one of the first to associate hearing loss with the additive effect to concurrent, persistent pesticide exposure, and noise. This research is significant as human senses are integral to everyday human activities, and it is vital to understand how chronic pesticide exposure can limit the body’s ability to function normally, for farmers and everyone alike. Researchers in the study note, “[I]t is necessary to understand what work-related factors are contributing to this high prevalence of hearing loss in [Thai] agricultural workers in order to develop effective interventions and […]

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Unregulated, “Shocking” and Destructive Levels of Pesticide Mixtures Found in Waterways

Friday, July 17th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, July 17, 2020) Researchers have discovered that the rivers and creeks that discharge into the lagoon of the Great Barrier Reef are riddled with mixtures of pesticides. The University of Queensland team expected to find some such mixtures in their sampling, but was shocked to find that 99.8% of their samples contained up to 20 different pesticides. Michael Warne, PhD, lead researcher and associate professor at the University of Queensland’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, says, “The issue with having mixtures of pesticides is that as the number of pesticides increases the impact to aquatic ecosystems generally increases.” Beyond Pesticides has covered waterway pesticide contamination in Europe and the U.S. The organization has long advocated for protective federal regulation that considers potential synergistic and additive threats, to ecosystems and organisms, from admixtures of pesticides — whether in formulated products, or “de facto” in the environment, as this study addresses. The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Lagoon is the open water of the Coral sea that lies between the reef and the Queensland, Australia coast. The GBR is the world’s largest coral reef system, comprising more than 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands, and extending across an area of approximately 133,000 square miles. It […]

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Health and Behavioral Development of Beneficial Black Garden Ants Stunted by Low Levels of Pesticide Exposure in Soils

Thursday, July 16th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, July 16, 2020) Long-term exposure to sublethal (low-level) concentrations of the neonicotinoid in soil negatively affects the health and behavioral development of black garden ants (Lasius niger) colonies, according to a study published in Communications Biology by scientists at the University of Bern, Switzerland. Ants are one of the most biologically significant insects in the soil ecosystem, acting as ecosystem engineers. Their burrowing behavior aerates the soil, allowing oxygen and water to penetrate down to plant roots. Additionally, ants increase soil nutrient levels by importing and accumulating organic material like food and feces, thus enhancing nutrient cycling. Like many other insects, ants are unfortunate victims of the global insect apocalypse or population decline, and much research attributes the recent decline to several, including pesticide exposure. Broad-spectrum pesticides, like neonicotinoids, indiscriminately kill pests and nontarget organisms alike, as their ubiquitous use contaminates soils, even in untreated areas. This study highlights the necessity of rethinking chemical pest management, developing sustainable agricultural practices that reduce the use of agrochemicals, like pesticides, to prevent permanent environmental ecosystem damage. Researchers in the study note, “To prevent irreparable damages to functioning ecosystems, [we] suggest to either fully incorporate long-term effects in risk assessment schemes, or to make a shift […]

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