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FDA Cites Resistance to Medically Important Antimicrobials as Critical Health Issue

Thursday, January 11th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, January 11, 2024) In a move to safeguard public and animal health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned nine manufacturers and distributors in December last year to stop selling unapproved and misbranded antimicrobial animal drugs, with the director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, Tracey Forfa, explaining to the public that “inappropriate use of medically important antimicrobials contributes to the development of antimicrobial resistance, which affects both human and animal health.”  This action and announcement exhibit a higher degree of concern about antimicrobial resistance—understood as a growing worldwide pandemic—than the history and ongoing inaction by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—resulting in the allowance of widespread nonmedical uses of antibiotics in agriculture and on synthetic (or artificial) turf. Contrary to broad scientific understanding, EPA told a federal appeals court last year that, “There is no data that antibiotic use in agriculture leads to the presence of antibiotic resistance in bacteria of human health concern,” and that “[a]t the present time, there is little evidence for or against the presence of microbes of human health concern in the plant agricultural environment.” The issue of resistance discussed in the scientific literature concerns reduced susceptibility to clinically important antimicrobials, […]

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Field Study of Bumble Bees Finds Exposure to Chemical Mixtures, High Hazard, Flawed Regulation

Tuesday, January 9th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, January 9, 2024) A “landscape-level” study finds that typical risk assessment studies used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and European regulators fail to “safeguard bees and other pollinators that support agricultural production and wild plant pollination.” The study, published in Nature (November 2023), evaluates the health of bumble bees (Bombus terrestris) as a sentinel species placed in 106 agricultural landscapes across Europe. The authors’ conclusions challenge “the current assumption of pesticide regulation—that chemicals that individually pass laboratory tests and semifield trials are considered environmentally benign”—calling into question EPA’s persistent failure to adequately regulate mixtures of chemicals to which organisms are exposed in the real world. This study adds to the body of science on pesticide mixtures adversely affecting bee and pollinator health. See here, here, and here. The failure to capture real-world exposure to pesticide mixtures in its regulatory assessments extends to EPA’s systemic failure to evaluate a range of serious adverse impacts, as noted by the agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) report. And, aquatic environments also have documented mixtures of pesticides, with the U.S. Geological Survey finding 90 percent of water samples containing at least five or more different pesticides. “We can take no comfort […]

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Commentary: New Year Calls for Transformational Change Starting with Chemical Use Rejection

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, January 2, 2024) [photo credit: Alessandro Marongui, Bhopal Medical Appeal, Bhopal, 2009] The new year begins with numerous critical decisions before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its Office of Pesticide Programs, along with other federal agencies and the U.S. Congress, that determine whether the agency will continue to erode its leadership position in meeting the existential crises that threaten health, biodiversity, and climate. Given these crises, EPA under its current authority could take the action necessary to advance a transition away from the use of petrochemical pesticides, since under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) the hazards associated with pesticides are “unreasonable”—given the availability and viability of organic systems that do not utilize toxic pesticides. As EPA fails to meet the catastrophic environmental and health challenges of the day, communities and states across the U.S. are increasingly exercising their authority to restrict pesticides more stringently than the federal government. FIFRA, as affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier (1991), does not prohibit or preempt local municipalities from adopting more stringent pesticide restrictions throughout their jurisdictions than the federal government. The U.S. Congress over the next several weeks will continue […]

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Holiday Season and New Year Greetings as We Move Ahead Together for a Sustainable Future

Friday, December 22nd, 2023

On behalf of the Beyond Pesticides team, we wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy holiday season! We deeply appreciate the vital community-based work taking place across the country as we join together to confront the existential health and environmental challenges of our time. Meeting the challenges ahead with a transformative strategy  Beyond Pesticides shares the vision of people and communities that are striving to ensure a future that protects health and sustains life. We are facing existential crises—the climate crisis, biodiversity collapse, and severe public health threats—from cancer to neurological, reproductive, and endocrine system effects, including brain and behavioral impacts. To reverse these threats —which we can do— we advance model organic solutions that eliminate billions of pounds of fossil fuel-based pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and nurture biological systems that take dangerous pollutants out of our environment, protecting health and the ecosystems that sustain life.     Our audacious goal: to phase out petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers by 2032. Our solution: to provide hands-on assistance, funded by our supporters, to assist in the transition to organic land management in community parks, playing fields, and schoolyards.  The path moving forward: Advancing sustainable, organic practices and policies to […]

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Protection of Pregnant Farmworkers Under Civil Rights Protection; Will There Be Enforcement.

Monday, December 4th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, December 4, 2023) With a history of neglect of farmworker protection in the workplace, advocates are pointing to the need for ensuring stringent enforcement of regulations that are expected to take effect under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) this month. In addition to weak laws and protections that typically exempt farmworkers, enforcement for farmworker protections that do exist has been lacking. A report on enforcement of wage and hour law under Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has documented diminished capacity to detect and enforce against violations. A report by the Economic Policy Institute (2020) shows the dramatic failures of DOL, which is underfunded and understaffed to enforce the law. As the agency charged with operationalizing the new law to protect farmworkers, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will be up against a federal pesticide law enforcement system that is dependent by agreements with state agencies, mostly departments of agriculture, that have a history of failing to enforce the limited protections provided for farmworkers. The EEOC is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and operates 53 field offices in every part of the country. Farmworkers have endured a long history of discrimination in the United […]

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Study Finds Novel Relationship Between Shingles and Pesticide Exposure

Wednesday, November 29th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, November 29, 2023) A study published in Environment International finds high pesticide exposure incidence associated with shingles, a varicella-zoster virus (the same highly contagious virus that causes chickenpox) that reactivates in the body after having chicken pox. Shingles is a painful condition with a blistering rash that can lead to vision and hearing loss, brain and lung inflammation, and even death if not treated. Since shingles manifest decades after initial exposure, and the association is strongest among individuals already hospitalized for pesticide-related illnesses, researchers find the long-term/chronic effects most concerning. Although dermal pesticide exposure can cause a range of adverse reactions, including dermatitis, allergic sensitization, and cancer, any route of exposure can exacerbate dermal manifestations through immune system response, causing virus-based skin reactions like shingles. People encounter toxic chemicals daily. However, frequent use of pesticides, including the use of everyday products like cleaning supplies, personal care products, agricultural chemicals, fabrics, non-stick cookware, and general airborne pollution, exacerbate chemical exposure risks. Dermal exposure is the most common pesticide exposure route, composing 95 percent of all pesticide exposure incidents, and is a significant concern for occupational (work-related) health. The study notes, “[The] findings of elevated shingles risk associated with acute, clinically relevant pesticide exposures also highlights […]

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New Federal Law Seeks to Protect Pregnant Workers, Farmworkers at Elevated Risk

Tuesday, November 28th, 2023

With the elevated adverse impacts associated with pesticides and reproductive health, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) law may be used to improve protections for farmworkers and other high-risk employees.

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Elevated Asthma Risk from Chlorpyrifos and Organophosphates Reported as Court Rolls Back Protections

Wednesday, November 8th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, November 8, 2023) A study published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research finds organophosphate pesticides (OPs) are linked to an increased asthma prevalence. The study was released just before an 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals November 3 decision vacating EPA’s 2021 decision to cancel all food tolerances for chlorpyrifos and sending it back to the agency. (Required by a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in April 2021 to take action, EPA issued a final rule in August, 2021—in full effect February 28, 2022—after an earlier 9th Circuit decision, concluding that, “EPA is unable to conclude that the risk from aggregate exposure from the use of chlorpyrifos meets the safety standard of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). Accordingly, EPA is revoking all tolerances for chlorpyrifos.”  Using urinary metabolites of OPs, the study highlights that diethyl phosphate (DEP, the breakdown chemical of chlorpyrifos) has the strongest association with asthma. However, individual and combined exposure to all OPs have a significant link to respiratory disease. The respiratory system is essential to human survival, regulating gas exchange (oxygen-carbon dioxide) in the body to balance acid and base tissue cells for normal function. Damage to the respiratory system can […]

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States Step In to Restrict Bee-Toxic Pesticides, California the Latest in Absence of EPA Action

Friday, November 3rd, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, November 3, 2023) California joined 10 other states that have laws partially restricting use of bee-toxic neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides with the enactment of CA AB 363 into law in October, 2023.  California’s new law will ban over-the-counter sales of lawn and garden neonics by 2025, limiting their use to licensed pesticide applicators. The legislation gives the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (CA EPA) until June 30, 2029 to take broader action on neonics, if it determines restrictions are necessary. CA 363 will take neonics out of the hands of homeowners, while allowing lawn care companies to continue use. The California law falls short of the strongest state laws in Nevada, New Jersey, and Maine that eliminate all outdoor (nonagricultural) uses of these chemicals, even by lawn care companies. In June, 2023 Nevada became the third state to ban lawn and garden uses of neonics, while Colorado prohibited homeowner use of land and garden neonic products, similar to laws in Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont.  Minnesota recently banned neonic use on state lands and granted its home-rule subdivisions the authority to ban “pollinator-lethal pesticides” (those with bee warning labels) under its state law preempting local authority […]

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Organophosphate Pesticides and the Link to Respiratory, Metabolic, and Heart Disease

Wednesday, October 18th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, October 18, 2023) A meta-analysis published in Toxics finds an association between exposure to organophosphate pesticides (OPs) and respiratory diseases and diabetes mellitus (DM). Specifically, wheezing and asthma are the most common respiratory manifestations of OP exposure, while fluctuation in weight and fat/glucose levels are the most common metabolically related manifestations. Organophosphorus pesticides have a wide range of biological uses—from insecticides to flame retardants—that make these chemicals ubiquitous, significantly contributing to ecosystem contamination. Thus, OP compounds have a global distribution, with evaporation and precipitation facilitating long-range atmospheric transport, deposition, and bioaccumulation of hazardous chemicals in the environment. Many studies show OPs are highly toxic, and residues are consistently present in human and animal urine, blood, tissues, and milk. Considering 90 percent of Americans have at least one pesticide compound in their body, primarily stemming from dietary exposure, including food and drinking water, advocates maintain that current restrictions on their use must adequately detect and assess total chemical contaminants.  This study investigated the effects and possible mechanisms involved in adverse health outcomes associated with OP exposure. Reviewing studies from Web of Science, PubMed, Embase, OVID, and the Cochrane Library, researchers systematically searched for articles on OP exposure and respiratory, DM, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcomes until 2022. […]

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On Indigenous Peoples Day, Highlighting Indigenous Knowledge To Address the Biodiversity Crisis

Monday, October 9th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, October 9, 2023) On this Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the world turns its attention to the invaluable wisdom that Indigenous communities possess, highlighting their crucial role in addressing the global biodiversity crisis.  While facing disproportionate harm from unjust policies and practices that pollute, Indigenous communities are gaining federal and international recognition as key players in preserving the planet’s ecological balance.  Many Indigenous communities have a profound connection to, and unique relationship with its land, carrying with them ancestral wisdom that has sustained their ecosystems for generations. Indigenous knowledge, passed down through centuries, emphasizes the intricate relationships between species, the balance of ecosystems, and the importance of coexistence with nature. This knowledge has allowed Indigenous Peoples to thrive sustainably for millennia.  In the face of the growing biodiversity and climate crises, Indigenous wisdom and traditional insights are a part of the solution. During the 2022 White House Tribal Nations Summit, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) unveiled historic guidance for federal departments and agencies regarding Indigenous Knowledge. This guidance, accompanied by an implementation memorandum, acknowledges the importance of valuing and adopting Indigenous Knowledge into federal decisionmaking to enhance scientific and […]

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Popular Pyrethroid Insecticides, Already Linked to Rheumatoid Arthritis, Associated with Osteoarthritis

Wednesday, September 20th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2023) Higher concentrations of a pyrethroid metabolite (3-PBA) in the body have an association with increased osteoarthritis (OA) risk among US adults, according to a study published in BMC Public Health. Regardless of analysis sensitivity and population subgroup (e.g., sex, socioeconomic status, etc.), the association between pyrethroid exposure and OA remains. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease resulting from the degradation (breakdown) of joint cartilage and underlying bone. This disease affects 1 in 7 U.S. adults and is the fourth leading cause of disability in the U.S. Unfortunately, OA is one of the most recently attributed pesticide-induced diseases associated with this dangerous class of chemical insecticides—harm to individual Americans that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not considering when it registers pesticides. To remedy the significant deficiencies in EPA’s reviews and protect residents from chronic disease, more and more communities are transitioning to safer, organic pest management practices that do not require pyrethroids and other toxic synthetic pesticides. Thus, this study and others like it highlight the need for increased monitorization of pyrethroid exposure among the general population. Using data from the 1999–2002 and 2007–2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), this study explores the relationship between pyrethroid exposure and osteoarthritis. NHANES is […]

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Bayer’s Use of EU-Forbidden Pesticides Ignites Protest in South Africa 

Tuesday, September 19th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, September 19, 2023) Farmworkers in Paarl, South Africa took to the streets on Friday, September 8, demanding an end to the indiscriminate importation and use of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides containing substances prohibited by the European Union (EU). This protest is part of a broader global trend of outcry against systemic issues of environmental racism that disproportionately burden communities with environmental and health risks.   Organized by the Women on Farms Project, the protesters marched to the headquarters of Bayer. The German pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and pesticide company, responsible for producing and exporting agrochemicals known to be toxic to ecosystem and human health, has previously faced multiple lawsuits, including a multimillion-dollar one linking their glyphosate weed killer products (Roundup®) to non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. At the Bayer office, the protesters presented a memorandum demanding an end to the importation and use of EU-prohibited substances.    Protesters sought to expose the hypocritical tactics European agrochemical companies use to sell products in developing nations, even when those products are deemed unsafe in their home countries. Numerous farmworkers, like victim-turned-activist Antie Dina, spoke out about their health issues from petrochemical exposure. In her talk, Dina emphasizes that, “… enough is enough, we do not want any […]

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[Reflection] Climate March on September 17 and Action: Interconnection between Climate Change and Petrochemical Pesticides and Fertilizers

Friday, September 8th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, September 8, 2023) In a united effort, climate and environmental justice movements from around the world have come together to announce a global “end to fossil fuels,” including the end of pesticides. The “March to End Fossil Fuels” is scheduled for September 17 and the Secretary General’s Summit in New York City on September 20. See the full map for other marches around the world. At the Beyond Pesticides, 2022 National Forum session on climate (November, 2022), we discussed the science and the urgent need for a strategic response to the climate crisis as part of a constellation of crises that intersect. Whether we are talking about a health crisis borne out of chemical-induced diseases, the collapse of life-sustaining biodiversity, or the dramatic catastrophes caused by greenhouse gases and rising temperatures—the interconnectedness of the crises requires strategic solutions that are holistic and nurturing of our relationship with nature —a relationship we have minimized as a matter of policy and practice. The data on climate calls on us to be audacious in our demand for urgent change in our households and communities, and from decision makers at all levels of government. At Beyond Pesticides, our audacious goal is to […]

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Of Note During Organic Month, Study Finds Organic Diet and Location Affect Pesticide Residues in the Body

Thursday, September 7th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, September 7, 2023) During Organic Month, the importance of organic practices is brought into sharp focus by a study published in July in Environmental Health Perspectives, which emphasizes the importance of an organic diet and location to residues of pesticides in the body. The study finds urinary levels of the weed killer glyphosate significantly decrease through an organic diet for pregnant individuals living further than 0.5km (~1640ft) from an agricultural field. However, the study finds that adopting an organic diet among pregnant individuals living closer than 0.5km to an agricultural area does not significantly decrease glyphosate levels, indicating alternative sources of contamination outside of diet. Although past studies prove time and time again that an organic diet can reduce the levels of pesticides in the body, far too few studies investigate how the intervention of the organic diet can alter glyphosate levels among pregnant individuals living near or far from agricultural fields on which the herbicide is used. Furthermore, pesticides’ presence in the body affects human health, especially during vulnerable life stages like childhood, puberty, pregnancy, and old age. The study raises the complexity of fully tracking multiple exposures to glyphosate and other pesticides and the need for […]

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Labor Day Reflections: Workers Need Protection of Their Well-Being, Not Just Appreciation

Friday, September 1st, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, September 1, 2023) As we celebrate Labor Day—a day of acknowledging workers and the work of labor unions—it is essential to remember workers’ contributions to society and consider the challenges they face. Recent reports of Hollywood writer and actor strikes, and Starbucks and Amazon store union petitions have created a sense of a booming union movement. However, there is an ongoing decline in the percentage of the unionized workforce. Although public-sector unionization has experienced slight fluctuations (dropping from 36.7 percent to 33.1 percent between 1983 and 2022), the most significant decrease has occurred in the private sector, where rates dwindled from 16.8 to 6 percent. While the decline of labor unions is a significant challenge, there is hope for the future if we work to enact meaningful reforms that empower workers and strengthen the labor movement. That’s why, this Labor Day, it is especially appropriate that we continue to express gratitude to all workers—healthcare workers, farmworkers, landscape workers, food processors, grocery workers, and others who put their lives on the line every day. But our gratitude does not protect anyone’s health. Nobody should have to risk their health for a job. As we as a nation recognize that […]

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Pollinator Health: Common Fungicide Linked to Changes in Honey Bees’ Brain through Oxidative Stress

Tuesday, August 29th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, August 29, 2023) A study published in Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology finds the widely used azole fungicide, tebuconazole, has damaging impacts on the redox homeostasis (the process of maintaining balance between oxidizing and reducing reactions) and fatty acid composition in honey bees’ brain via oxidative stress. Acute, field-realistic sublethal exposure to tebuconazole decreased the brain’s antioxidant capacity, key antioxidant defense systems, and oxidative degradation and alteration of lipids (fats) in the brain. Thus, this study adds to the scientific literature on the adverse effects of chemical exposure on pollinator health, especially in sublethal concentrations. Degenerating cognitive skills can threaten honey bee survivability, decreasing colony fitness and individual foraging success. Much research attributes the decline of insect pollinators (e.g., commercial and wild bees and monarch butterflies) over the last several decades to the interaction of multiple environmental stressors, from climate change to pesticide use, disease, habitat destruction, and other factors. Pollinator declines directly affect the environment, society, and the economy. Without pollinators, many plant species, both agricultural and nonagricultural, will decline or cease to exist, as U.S. pollinator declines, particularly among native wild bees, depress crop yields. In turn, the economy will take a hit, since much of the economy (65%) depends upon the […]

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Serious Water Contamination from Pesticides Used on Pets, Ignored by Regulators, Again Confirmed

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2023) The use of pesticides on pets for fleas and ticks (parasiticides) has been traced to environmental contamination in a study that confirms earlier work both by the authors and internationally, according to researchers Rosemary Perkins, a veterinary surgeon, and David Goulson, PhD at the University of Sussex. The results are published in their recent study, “To flea or not to flea: survey of UK companion animal ectoparasiticide usage and activities affecting pathways to the environment,” which concludes that, “[T]he potential cumulative impact of parasiticide emissions [into the environment] from many millions of pets treated multiple times each year is of serious concern.” The UK provides an opportunity to pinpoint water contamination from pet use for ectoparasites (e.g., fleas and ticks) of hazardous pesticides since, unlike in the U.S., the country has banned outdoor use of those chemicals commonly detected—the insecticides fipronil and imidacloprid (the same neonicotinoid bug killer tied to devastating losses of bees and other organisms). These findings confirm the historical peer reviewed scientific literature and defy the assumption of regulators that home or veterinary use of pesticides do not reach levels of concern for environmental contamination, either through exposure from down-the-drain (DTD) contamination […]

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Advocates Urge EPA Integration of Safer Chemicals and Organic Practices in Pesticide Assessments

Monday, August 21st, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, August 21, 2023) As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Safer Choice program asks for public input into the expansion of its work to label green chemicals, the need to recognize the importance of holistic management systems in sync with nature looms large. Will simple chemical substitution ignore the value of natural processes that require nurturing for sustainable future? EPA’s Safer Choice is a non-regulatory program that identifies alternative chemicals for a number of uses that meet expanded safety criteria. Tell EPA and Congress that substituting chemicals alone is not the Safer Choice. Use Safer Choice to eliminate harmful practices and emissions by compelling a transition to practices that build a climate- and sustainability-focused economy. For problems requiring a chemical solution—for example, laundry detergents—EPA’s Safer Choice is a valuable resource, and consumers can look for products with the Safer Choice label, which requires that EPA review all chemical ingredients that must meet safety criteria for both human health and the environment, including carcinogenicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity, toxicity to aquatic life, and persistence in the environment. While EPA’s Safer Choice/Design for the Environment (DfE) program performs alternatives analyses on chemicals and identifies chemicals that are less hazardous, it […]

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Pesticide Exposure with Disproportionate Effects Increases Risk of Asthma

Wednesday, August 16th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, August 16, 2023) A study published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research further supports the indication that exposure to organophosphate insecticides (OPs) increases the risk of asthma among the U.S. general population. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, “The burden of asthma in the United States falls disproportionately on people with low-income, senior adults, and Black, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native people,” making these groups more susceptible to developing this chronic lung disease upon OP exposure.   Organophosphorus pesticides have a wide range of biological uses—from insecticides to flame retardants—that make these chemicals ubiquitous, significantly contributing to ecosystem contamination. Furthermore, while organophosphates have less bioaccumulation potential, residues are consistently present in human and animal blood, urine, tissues, and milk. Although research demonstrates that OPs are highly toxic, there remains an inadequate understanding of how OP exposure impacts body systems like the repository system. The respiratory system is essential to human survival, regulating gas exchange (oxygen-carbon dioxide) in the body to balance acid and base tissue cells for normal function. However, damage to the respiratory system can cause several issues—from asthma and bronchitis to oxidative stress that triggers the development of extra-respiratory manifestations like rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, the rise in respiratory illnesses and organophosphate […]

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Study Cites Multiple Chemical Characteristics, Strengthening Weed Killer Glyphosate Cancer Ranking

Friday, August 11th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, August 11, 2023) Reinforcing earlier findings, a systematic review published in Chemosphere finds the popular herbicide glyphosate and its formulations (glyphosate-based formulations-GBF) exhibit five out of the ten key characteristics (KC) of carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals). Specifically, glyphosate exhibits strong evidence of genotoxicity, epigenetic alterations (heritable changes in gene expression), oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, endocrine disruption, and disturbs gut microbiota implicated in lymphomagenesis (growth and development of lymphoma). Although organizations like the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) designate glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen, and scientific literature supports the findings on these adverse effects purported by glyphosate, the chemical remains on the U.S. market in various formulations. Glyphosate is the most commonly used active ingredient worldwide, appearing in many herbicide formulas, not just Bayer’s (formerly Monsanto) Roundup®. The use of this chemical has been increasing since the inception of crops genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate over two decades ago. The toxic herbicide readily contaminates the ecosystem with residues pervasive in food and water commodities. In addition to this study, literature proves time and time again that glyphosate has an association with cancer development, as well as human, biotic, and ecosystem harm. Therefore, advocates point to the need for national policies to reassess hazards associated with […]

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Is “Safer Choice” Eliminating Hazardous Chemical Use through Management and Product Choice?

Thursday, August 10th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, August 10, 2023) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Safer Choice program, a voluntary labeling program, has announced an opportunity for public comment on new areas of work—opening up a public discussion of priorities for identifying less toxic products in the marketplace. EPA describes the labeling program as a part of its Pollution Prevention (P2) program, which, according to the agency, “includes practices that reduce, eliminate, or prevent pollution at its source, such as using safer ingredients in products.” A July 17 Federal Registration Notice, Stakeholder Engagement Opportunity for the Safer Choice and Design for the Environment (DfE) Programs’ Potential Expansion Into New Product Categories, announces a public listening session August 28, and a public comment deadline of September 11, 2023 In the face of existential health, biodiversity, and climate crises, advocates say that the question before EPA is whether strict systemic measures will be adopted to meet the urgency of the crises. This will require the quick phase out of hazardous substances that are contributing to the existential crises (including petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers). While the Safer Choice program can identify practices and products that are not harmful to health, biodiversity, and climate, it is a labeling rather […]

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Reflections: “I’m a Barbie girl, in the Barbie world. Life in plastic is [NOT] fantastic”

Thursday, August 3rd, 2023

It’s hard to escape the impacts of the Barbie movie’s estimated $150 million marketing campaign. You may have noticed advertisements with Burger King’s pink burgers to Airbnb’s Barbie Dreamhouse. Perhaps you have seen viral memes or news stories about the movie’s takedown of the patriarchy or critiques that the movie is overly woke. The pink symbol of Barbie is often followed by a second symbol — plastic. The total mass of plastics on Earth now doubles the total mass of all living mammals, so would Barbie say life is fantastic? Or, might she urge the National Organic Standards Board to ban plastic mulch, an issue on the agenda at the Board’s upcoming October meeting? Plastic products, including those used in chemical-intensive and organic agriculture, and pesticides, play a seemingly necessary role in modern life, encompassing many items beyond straws and grocery bags. However, the convenience of plastic comes at a considerable cost to the planet and human health. The majority of plastics are manufactured using oil and gas, exacerbating climate change. Scientists are becoming increasingly alarmed by the repercussions of microplastics, which are plastic particles smaller than 5 mm in size. In 2022, Philip Landrigan, M.D., et al., announced the […]

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