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Environmental Pesticide Exposure Alters Gut Microbes, Increasing Urgency for Organic Transition

Thursday, May 12th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 12, 2022) A report published in Environmental Health finds that exposure to environmentally relevant concentrations of pesticides can alter gut microbial communities, as demonstrated through fecal samples. Over 300 environmental contaminants and their byproducts, including pesticides, are chemicals commonly present in human blood and urine samples. Ample evidence demonstrates that environmental contaminants, including pesticides, negatively affect the human mouth and gut microbes. However, fecal samples provide an accurate representation of the microbial community existing in the gut. These toxicants can alter hormone metabolism, which adversely affects health outcomes. Adverse health effects of environmental contaminants include reproductive and developmental defects, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, obesity, thyroid disorders, and improper immune operation. Although studies show how chemical exposures affect human health, more research is now questioning how these toxic chemicals influence gut health. Therefore, studies like these highlight the importance of evaluating how chemical contaminants deregulate normal bodily function through microbiome changes. The report notes, “Our results highlight the need for future dietary intervention studies to understand effects of pesticide exposure on the gut microbiome and possible health consequences.” Researchers examined dietary exposure to 186 common pesticide residues in the fecal excrement to determine impacts on the microbiome among 65 twins in the United Kingdom. […]

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Study Finds Chemical Exposure Increasing among Pregnant Women

Wednesday, May 11th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2022) Pregnant women are being exposed to increasing amounts of dangerous industrial chemicals, according to research published this week in Environmental Science and Technology.  The chemicals in question include pesticides, plastics, and parabens, as well as ‘replacement chemicals’ for substances like phthalates and bisphenols that have gained notoriety for risks to public health. With a range of scientific data highlighting chemical exposures during pregnancy as a critical window of vulnerability, public awareness of these growing threats, and meaningful action by government regulators to reduce exposure is needed.   The results of this study follow the release of data last year finding over 100 different chemicals in U.S. pregnant women’s blood and umbilical cord samples. For the present study, however, researchers did not merely detect these chemicals, they tracked exposure levels over the course of 12 years. The cohort of 171 women represents a diverse group from seven American states and territories (including New Hampshire, New York, Puerto Rico, Illinois, California, and Georgia), with 20% of women participating Black, one third white, 40% Latina, and the remaining from other or multiple groups. Over the course of the study, routine monitoring was conducted utilizing an advanced diagnostic method […]

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Chemical No-Till Failure Due to Herbicide Resistance Increases Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 10, 2022) Widespread weed resistance on chemical corn and soybean farms is leading farmers to till their fields more often, significantly increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These findings were published late last month in the journal Nature Food by a team of Iowa State University researchers. With agricultural practices accounting for roughly 10% of U.S. GHG emissions, and 25% of worldwide releases, farming practices that preserve soil health and sequester GHGs are essential for the future of food production. Tillage is a farming practice that can provide a range of benefits for crop production, but only in the right conditions. A range of tillage practices exist, ranging from yearly conventional tillage, where most crop residue is plowed into the soil, to conservation tillage where some residue remains, and no-till systems where the soil remains covered. Repeated tillage causes significant harm to soil structure and biology, and result in erosion and the release of GHGs like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide from soil into the atmosphere. The harms of tillage have led both chemical and organic farmers toward no-till or reduced tillage systems. Organic no-till farming, as practiced by farming groups like the Rodale Institute, employs the […]

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First Report of Environmental Pollutant Risk Among Tropical Mammals Across the Globe

Thursday, May 5th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 5, 2022) A report published in Biological Conservation finds environmental pollutants, including pesticides, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and particulate matter, adversely affect tropical terrestrial wildlife. Specifically, these contaminants can interact with one another, altering the chemical landscape of the ecosystem, and causing changes in the endocrine and microbiome systems of mammals. Since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), global attention to the danger of pesticides has increased, with environmental agencies banning the use of legacy pesticides like organochlorines for their devastating toxic—sometimes lethal—effects. However, these chemicals can remain in the environment for decades and interact with various current-use pesticides, including organophosphates, neonicotinoids, and pyrethroids. Although many studies demonstrate that environmental pollution plays a significant role in premature deaths among humans, there is a lack of research on how environmental pollution directly affects tropical species mortality. Considering human and wildlife habitats tend to overlap, and chemical pollutants can drift from chemically treated areas, wildlife populations are more likely to experience similar health effects. With the number of chemicals in the ecosystem growing, studies like these highlight the need for pesticide policies that protect human health in addition to the integrity of the chemical landscapes accommodating wildlife. The researchers note, “Using […]

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Glyphosate Breakdown Product, Associated with Oxidative Stress and DNA Damage Among Children

Thursday, April 28th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 28, 2022) A study in Environmental Research finds that glyphosate’s primary metabolite (breakdown product), aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), induces DNA damage through oxidative stress among subpopulations of primary school children. Although pyrethroid and chlorpyrifos metabolites can induce oxidative stress, this study is the first to investigate AMPA’s association with adverse health effects, rather than solely the effects of the active ingredient, glyphosate, in Roundup and other formulations. Glyphosate is the most commonly used active ingredient worldwide, appearing in many herbicide formulations, readily contaminating soil, water, food, and other resources. Chemical use has been increasing since the inception of crops genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate. However, studies demonstrate glyphosate is among the most prevalent pesticide contributors to human, biotic, and ecosystem harm. According to research, herbicide toxicity to invertebrates has doubled since 2004. Although research links glyphosate exposure to cancer, specifically non-Hodgkin lymphoma, much less research considers the effects that metabolites have on children who are more vulnerable to chemical exposure. Ecological and health risk assessments primarily focus on active ingredients in pesticide products, overlooking the potential impacts of metabolites. Thus, studies like these highlight the need to assess the implications of metabolite exposure to protect human, animal, and environmental health. The study notes, “Our […]

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Literature Review Adds to the Growing Evidence that Inert Ingredients Are Toxic to Pollinators

Thursday, April 21st, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 21, 2022) A literature review published in Royal Society finds that ‘inert’ ingredients’ in pesticide formulations adversely affect the health of bees and other wild pollinators. Inert ingredients, also known as “other” ingredients, and not disclosed by name on pesticide product labels, facilitate the action of active ingredients targeting a specific pest. Although both ingredients have chemical and biological activity, most studies on agricultural chemical toxicity focus on the active ingredient, assuming that inert ingredients are “nontoxic.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in regulating pesticides, assesses the toxicity of individual active ingredients on bees through various testing methods. However, there are no requirements for EPA to test inert ingredients to the same degree, despite evidence demonstrating these chemicals harm pollinators. Moreover, EPA does not require pesticide manufacturers to disclose the inert ingredients used in any product as the information is confidential. Both wild and commercial bees and other pollinators encounter multiple stressors, including pesticides, parasites, and poor nutrition, that act together to increase the risk of bee mortality. Therefore, reviews like these highlight the need for pesticide testing to consider the effects of all product ingredients, regardless of perceived toxicity. The researchers caution, “We argue that ‘inert’ ingredients […]

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Mother’s Exposure to Pesticides during Pregnancy Results in Sleep-Related Problems among Daughters

Wednesday, April 20th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 20, 2022) A University of Michigan study is the first to highlight that maternal pesticide exposure during pregnancy adversely affects sleeping patterns for offspring later in life, specifically for females. Prenatal development is one of the most vulnerable periods of exposure as the fetus is most susceptible to the harmful effects of chemical contaminants. Many studies indicate that prenatal and early-life exposure to environmental toxicants increases susceptibility to diseases, from learning and developmental disabilities to cancer. However, the toxicity of pesticide exposure ad its full impact on the nonagricultural population in the U.S., especially women. Given research links to sleep-related disorders and neurological and cognitive development, studies like this can help government and health officials identify how pesticides’ impact on the brain elevates health concerns. The authors note, “Overall, these results are of public health importance considering the continued widespread agricultural and possibly residential use of pyrethroids and chlorpyrifos [in Mexico]
Thus, our results underline the importance of additional research studies that include both larger samples and assessment of unregulated pesticides, as well as studies that consider the underlying mechanisms explaining sex differences.” Levels of inadequate sleep patterns are rising among children and adolescents. Reports find variability in sleep duration results in higher rates of depression, anxiety, and […]

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Industry, Money, and Politics Drive Legislation to Squelch Local Pesticide Restrictions

Thursday, April 7th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2022) Legislation introduced by U.S. Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) last week would roll back, preempt, and prohibit local jurisdictions from enacting policies that protect resident health and a community’s unique local environments from hazardous pesticides. The bill, H.R.7266, is a direct attack on the scores of local communities that have enacted common sense safeguards from toxic pesticides, and represents the pesticide industry’s response to the growing momentum of the pesticide reform movement. Health and environmental advocates are expecting Rep. Davis and his partners in the agrichemical industry to attempt to work the provisions of the legislation into the upcoming 2023 farm bill. The industry had previously attempted to work federal preemption into the 2018 farm bill, an effort that ultimately failed after massive pushback from health advocates, local officials, and Congressional allies. Rep. Davis’ press release for the bill, in which he was joined with quotes from a range of agrichemical industry leaders, is titled “Davis Introduces Legislation to Prevent Liberal Local Governments from Banning or Restricting Pesticide Use,” striking a partisan tone. Caring about public and environmental health is typically not viewed as a liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican issue. Those monitoring local governments […]

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Health Implications: Common Herbicide 2,4-D Threatens Most Species Health, Especially Vertebrates

Tuesday, April 5th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 5, 2022) A meta-analysis by the Federal University of Technology – Paranå finds the herbicide 2,4-D causes indiscriminate harm, increasing the mortality rate among exposed animals. The severity of chemical exposure relies on species sensitivity, exposure rate, and lifecycle stage. However, commercial formulations of 2,4-D, commonly used in the environment, prompt a higher species mortality rate than technical (pure) 2,4-D alone. Like many other common herbicides such as glyphosate, 2,4-D has global uses that allow the chemical to accumulate in the environment, including soils, waterways, and tissues of non-target species. Therefore, meta-analyses like this help local and government officials make holistic decisions regarding environmental contaminants that incorporate conclusions from various studies. Using the Web of Science and Scopus databases, researchers compiled various studies (or meta-analyses) on the lethality of 2,4-D in different animal species (e.g., vertebrates, invertebrates). Researchers evaluated each study regarding the mortality rate of control and experimental groups, animal sensitivity to chemical exposure during a specific life stage, chemical formulation (e.g., commercial or technical), and exposure routes causing mortality. The analysis demonstrates that vertebrates experience higher mortality rates from 2,4-D exposure, with fish and birds presenting the highest mortality rate. Regarding life stages, larval and adult […]

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Animals in Wildlife Sanctuaries at Greater Risk of Pesticide Exposure from Internal Agricultural Practices

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 30, 2022) An article by the Audubon Society covers ongoing advocacy to end pesticide spraying in wildlife refuges. Wildlife refuges act as a sanctuary, providing habitat and protection essential for the survival and recovery of species nationwide. However, portions of the wildlife sanctuary can have agricultural uses, allowing farmers to cultivate crops on various acres, subsequently applying pesticides. Pesticide spraying in or around wildlife refuges threatens the survivability and recovery of species that inhabit the area. Moreover, many of these pesticides are highly toxic to human and animal health. Analyses like these are significant, especially since 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 enforce policies that eliminate pesticide use in wildlife refuges. Ending pesticide applications in sanctuaries can protect the well-being of animals, humans, and the ecosystem. Hannah Connor, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), notes, “It’s not a huge economic driver of the refuge system, and it is truly problematic in terms of fulfilling its mission and goals[
]. That just means it should be […]

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Environmentalists Outraged at Probability that EPA Will Allow Continued Use of Deadly Pesticides, the Neonicotinoids

Friday, March 25th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2022) Recent coverage by The Guardian of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan — to extend the registration of several demonstrably harmful neonicotinoid insecticides — compels Beyond Pesticides to identify, once again, the agency’s failures to enact its core mission. That mission is “to protect human health and the environment,” and to ensure that “national efforts to reduce environmental risks are based on the best available scientific information.” EPA has undertaken a review of the registration of several members of the neonicotinoid (neonic) family of pesticides and, despite the agency’s own findings of evidence of serious threats to pollinators, aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife, it issued interim decisions on these neonics in January 2020 that disregard the science on the pesticides’ impacts. EPA appears to be prepared to finalize these registrations late in 2022; this would, barring further action, extend the use of these harmful compounds for 15 years. Neonics are used widely in the U.S., both on crops to kill sucking insects, and as seed treatments with the same goal for the developing plant. These insecticides are systemic compounds, meaning that once applied, they travel to all parts of a plant through the vascular […]

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Pesticide Drift or Chemical Trespass Continue Uncontrolled, Despite Successful Litigation

Friday, March 18th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 18, 2022) A 2020 lawsuit related to pesticide drift was resolved on March 8, 2022 in San Joaquin (California) Superior Court with the finding that Alpine Helicopter Services, which specializes in pesticide applications for government and tourism entities, had violated pesticide drift laws and endangered public health and safety. The court further found Alpine liable for damage related to its actions, though penalties in the case, brought by California state prosecutors and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), have yet to be determined. The case exposes a handful of the many instances of pesticide drift, also known as “chemical trespass,” that occur every year in the U.S. In 2004, Beyond Pesticides covered the issue with Getting the Drift on Chemical Trespass; its monitoring of drift issues is ongoing, as can be seen in its “Pesticide Drift” archives. The long history of nontarget exposure, contamination, and poisoning teaches that drift is a function of pesticide use, but not considered adequately by regulators who allow the marketing of poisons that are known to move through the environment uncontrolled. Cases like the Alpine case highlight a relentless problem associated with the daily use of pesticides. Pesticide drift is any airborne […]

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EPA Overlooks Glyphosate and Roundup Ingredients’ Cancer, DNA Damage, and Multigenerational Effects

Thursday, March 10th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2022) Glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) like RoundupÂź induce DNA damage and alter biological mechanisms (gene regulatory microRNAs [miRNAs or miRs]) associated with cancer development. According to the study published in Toxicological Sciences, DNA damage mainly occurs through oxidative stress from GBH exposure. Moreover, DNA damage and other biological mechanisms that cause carcinogenicity (cancer) occur at doses assumed “safe” by pesticide regulators such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Glyphosate is the most commonly used active ingredient worldwide, appearing in many herbicide formulas, not just Bayer’s (formerly Monsanto) RoundupÂź. 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.  Study lead author Michael Antoniou, Ph.D., cautions, “Our results are the first to simultaneously show glyphosate and Roundup toxicity in a whole mammalian animal model system and provide a mechanism – oxidative stress – by which DNA damage has been observed in other systems, such as mammalian […]

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Covid Leads to Transformational Moment for Launching of School-Based Feeding Programs with Organic Food

Tuesday, March 8th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 8, 2022) A silver lining has emerged from the past two devastating Covid years, according to Civil Eats. A large California school district has used pandemic changes — in the regulatory schema of the federal and state governments, in supply chain function, and in available funding — to catalyze the transition to organic food in school-based feeding programs. For the past decade or so, U.S. school districts have, here and there, been moving gradually in this direction. The West Contra Costa Unified School District (WWCUSD) is robustly making the transition to organic, in no small part through its collaboration with Conscious Kitchen, a local nonprofit that seeks to “break the cycle of conventional, packaged, overly processed food, [and] transitioning to meals based on five foundational attributes: fresh, local, organic, seasonal and nutritious.” Beyond Pesticides has long pointed to the importance of shifting school-based meals to organic for multiple reasons, but centrally, because the pesticides with which conventional food is generally contaminated have outsized health and developmental impacts on children. The WWCUSD, which is northeast of San Francisco, boasts 30,000 students — 75% of whom come from low-income households. The district’s food service director, Barbara Jellison, and other food […]

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Are Your Fruits and Vegetables Vegan? Specific Pesticide Use Makes Produce Non-Vegan?

Friday, March 4th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 4, 2022) An article in My London reported by Finn Byrne, finds labeling on conventionally grown fruits and vegetables marked as non-vegan. The non-vegan label shocked many shoppers who buy the produce with chemical-intensive practices, as fruits and vegetables are inherently vegan. However, pesticides used in the production of fruits and vegetables render these foods non-vegan because of the harm that pesticides cause to animals and since a wax coating on fruits and vegetables made of shellac, a resin secreted from female lac beetles and thus non-vegan. Recent studies indicate plant-based diets can mitigate excessive pesticide use and exposure if they are organically grown. However, a plant-based diet reliant on pesticides does little to lessen the health and ecological effects of conventional agriculture. Fungicides are ubiquitous in agricultural and residential settings puts human and animal health at risk. Exposure to fungicides can manifest adverse health effects, including reproductive dysfunction, birth/developmental effects, kidney/liver damage, and cancer. Several researchers find that fungicide use promotes more drug-resistant fungal infections in humans as these fungicides are structurally similar to medical antifungal medications. After investigating fruits and vegetables at various United Kingdom (UK) grocery stores (i.e., Tesco, Morrisons, and Marks and Spencer), the report finds fungicides imazalil and propiconazole present […]

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Pesticide Use on Crops for Meat and Dairy Feed Further Threatens Endangered Species

Tuesday, March 1st, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 1, 2022) A report by the Independent finds chemical-intensive farming of crops for animal feed puts thousands of endangered species at risk. U.S. farmlands use more than 235 million pounds of pesticide (i.e., herbicides and insecticides) solely for animal feed production, many of which are highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs). Several HHP hazard categories include acutely toxic, chronic health hazards, and environmental hazards. Therefore, animal feed production intensifies global pollution, increases pesticide exposure, and degrades human, animal, and ecological health.  Although the report demonstrates a need to eliminate toxic pesticide use for the sake of human, animal, and ecosystem health, it will take more than eliminating the worst chemicals to address the impending biodiversity collapse and the climate crisis. Experts highlight the need for an urgent shift to organic land and agricultural management practices. The study notes, “These pesticides are taking a toll on our environment and biodiversity. Endangered species like the highly imperiled whooping crane, monarch butterflies, all species of salmon, the rusty-patched bumble bee, the San Joaquin kit fox, and the northern long-eared bat, as examples, all face significant threats from industrial agricultural operations and the chemicals applied. In order to conserve biodiversity and better protect vulnerable species and their habitats, […]

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Deadly Fungus Resistant to Fungicide Jumps from Farms to People, as Human Pathogen Spreads

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, February 23, 2022) Fungicide use in agriculture is driving the spread of multi-fungicide resistant human pathogens, finds a recent study conducted by scientists at the University of Georgia. While this occurrence has long been an assumption based on the rampant overuse of fungicides in chemical-dependent farming, scientists have now found clear evidence linking the development of widespread fungal resistance to farming practices, rather than health care use. Despite strong evidence that commonly used synthetic pesticides in chemical-intensive farming are driving resistance that threatens human health on a global scale, the U.S. government has not only failed to take action, it has fought against international efforts to slow the crisis, at the behest of the agrichemical industry.   Scientists focused their research on Aspergillus fumigatus, a common mold that can infect humans and cause aspergillosis. Although some have problems with mild sensitivity to the fungus, virulent infections called invasive aspergillosis can occur in immunocompromised individuals and are on the rise. Cases of invasive aspergillosis increased 3% per annum between 2000 and 2013, and roughly 300,000 worldwide are diagnosed each year. On both farms and in human medical settings, antifungal compounds called azole fungicides are used in attempts to kill […]

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Review Provides New Insight into How Pesticide Exposure Disrupts Bee Gut Microbiome

Wednesday, February 16th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, February 16, 2022) Pesticide exposure disturbs the gut microbiome of social bees, leading to a range of alterations that could affect fitness in the wild, finds a major literature review recently published by researchers at the University of Ottawa, Canada. With research on bee gut microbiomes is still in its infancy, the review provides a centralized overview of data collected to date, and highlights areas for further research to fill in remaining knowledge gaps. “Social bees have gut microbiotas that contribute to their health, just like we (humans) do,” said Michelle Hotchkiss, a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Science at the University of Ottawa. “Further research on the interactions between pesticides, bee gut microbiotas, and bee hosts will help us better understand how pesticides affect bee health and performance.” To conduct their review, scientists collected research relating to bee gut over the last 50 years. “The earliest studies we found were published in the 1970s and the most recent ones in 2020,” said Dr. Hotchkiss. “We summarized what methods were used to collect data, including which bee hosts and pesticides were examined. To summarize how the abundances of core microbes changed after pesticide exposure, we looked at […]

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One-Third of Americans Have Hazardous Weed Killer in Their Bodies

Tuesday, February 15th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, February 15, 2022) A synthetic weed killer linked to cancer, endocrine (hormone) disruption, reproductive harm and birth defects can be found in the bodies of 1 in 3 Americans, according to research published in Environmental Health by scientists at George Washington University. The chemical in question is not glyphosate (though current data indicate similar results are likely) but 2,4-D, an herbicide that is increasingly used when weeds growing near genetically engineered  (GE) crops have developed resistance to the repeated use of Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers. “Our study suggests human exposures to 2,4-D have gone up significantly and they are predicted to rise even more in the future,” Marlaina Freisthler, a PhD student and researcher at the George Washington University, said. “These findings raise concerns with regard to whether this heavily used weed-killer might cause health problems, especially for young children who are very sensitive to chemical exposures.” Researchers conducted their analysis based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which includes urinary concentrations of 2,4-D from 14,395 participants spanning 2001 to 2014. Between those years, the use of 2,4-D increased rapidly from its relative low point at the beginning of the century. “Roundup […]

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Take Action to Protect Manatees: Toxic Runoff Is Killing Them

Monday, January 31st, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, January 31, 2022) Public concern is now heightened as Florida manatees are facing extremely severe threats—so severe that wildlife officials have resorted to feeding them cabbage and lettuce in an attempt to keep their rapidly dwindling populations alive. Protecting manatees will require a multi-faceted approach, including upgrading their status to endangered and protecting their watery habitat from toxic threats. Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to upgrade the Florida manatee to endangered and require protection from chemical pollution. Tell your Congressional Representative and Senators to support H.R. 4946. Tell Florida’s Governor DeSantis to protect manatees. Florida manatees, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), can live as long as 60 years old, weigh up to 1,200 lbs, and have no natural predators. The biggest threat to these peaceful marine mammals is human activity. Humans harm manatees directly through boat strikes and encounters with fishing equipment, canal locks, and other flood control structures, but the largest threat comes from chemical pollutants. In 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service downgraded Florida manatees from fully endangered to threatened status under the Endangered Species Act. However, with recent reports indicating that over 1,000 manatees died in just the […]

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Manatees in Florida Seriously Threatened from Pollution, Pesticides, and Other Human-Induced Stressors

Thursday, January 27th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, January 27, 2022) Wildlife officials in Florida have resorted to supplementing starving manatees with cabbage and lettuce in an attempt to keep their rapidly dwindling populations alive. Massive Red Tides exacerbated by runoff from urban and agricultural pollution have directly killed off dozens of manatees over the last several years, but the indirect effects of these harmful algae blooms have been most catastrophic, resulting in significant loss of the seagrass beds upon which manatees rely. While Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has announced plans to spend $481 million on water quality improvement projects, conservationists note that the funds are primarily directed toward point source wastewater treatment, and more is needed to address nonpoint source herbicide and fertilizer runoff from agricultural, and urban and suburban yards. Florida manatees, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee, can live as long as 60 years old, weigh up to 1,200 lbs, and have no natural predators within their range. The biggest threat to these peaceful marine mammals is human activity and environmental stressors. Unfortunately, the former is well-known to exacerbate the latter. Humans harm manatees primarily through boat strikes, but the animals can also die from eating or becoming entangled in fishing equipment, […]

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Common Antimicrobial Pesticides Linked to Altered Gut Microbe Function

Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, January 25, 2022) Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill identifies how triclosan (TCS), an antimicrobial agent used in many household products, impacts the microbial communities in the gut, causing inflammation. According to the study published in Nature Communications, triclosan worsens the effects of ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), through the retention of harmful bacteria. Ample evidence demonstrates environmental contaminants, including pesticides like triclosan, negatively affect microbes in the human mouth and gut. Although studies show how triclosan exposure affects human health, more research is now questioning how exposure to these toxic chemical influences gut health. Therefore, studies like these highlight the importance of evaluating how chemical contaminant deregulates normal bodily function through microbiome changes. Furthermore, the study has significant implications for considerations that should be, but are not currently, a part of pesticide review and registration by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The researchers note, “Together, our results define a mechanism by which intestinal microbes contribute to the metabolic activation and gut toxicity of TCS, and highlight the importance of considering the contributions of the gut microbiota in evaluating the toxic potential of environmental chemicals.” Instances of intestinal bowel disease (IBD)—involving the chronic inflammation […]

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Banned Pesticides in Well Water Linked to Declines in Kidney Function

Wednesday, January 12th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, January 12, 2022) Well water in agricultural regions of Sri Lanka is contaminated with highly hazardous insecticides and associated with a decline in kidney function, according to research published in npj Clean Water this month. This finding is the latest piece in an ongoing ‘puzzle’ regarding the epidemic of chronic kidney disease of unknown origins in Sri Lanka and other developing countries in agricultural regions. Although the exact etiology of the disease has not been confirmed, a number of scientific studies have pointed the finger at industrial agriculture, increasingly finding evidence of chronic pesticide exposure in affected populations.   To better understand the connection between agrichemical exposure and kidney health, researchers enrolled 293 individuals from Wilgamuwa, Sri Lanka into a prospective study. Baseline data was retrieved on occupational and environmental exposure factors, focusing in on the water source individuals used at their homes. Samples of each participant’s household wells were taken and analyzed for the presence of pesticides. Of the wells sampled, 68% were found to contain pesticides. Further, every well where pesticides were detected had at least one pesticide recorded above global drinking water guidelines. The chemicals found were also some of the most toxic pesticides to […]

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