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Continued Reduction in Sperm Count Raises Call for Action

Tuesday, November 29th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, November 29, 2022) Based on new international research adding weight to previous research on falling sperm counts, it is critical that environmental agencies address this and other problems related to endocrine disruption. The study by Levine et al. finds that the drop in sperm count—a drop of 51.6% from 1973 through 2018—is global and that the rate of decline is accelerating. Tell EPA and Congress that pesticide use cannot continue without findings of no endocrine disruption.  The documented (average) drop in sperm counts is approaching the level at which the ability to cause a pregnancy begins to plummet dramatically. The reduction in male fertility may have profound psychological and social impacts, including anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression. These psychological problems have health impacts of their own. Equally serious are connections of anxiety and depression with violent behavior and suicide. Compounding the problem is the fact that men are unlikely to seek fertility-related social support. The drop in sperm counts is just one example of endocrine disruption largely due to exposure to toxic chemicals. The endocrine system consists of a set of glands (thyroid, gonads, adrenal and pituitary) and the hormones they produce (thyroxine, estrogen, testosterone, and adrenaline), which […]

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Washington DC Sues for Damages from Historical Pesticide Contamination, as Threats Persist

Tuesday, October 18th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, October 18, 2022) Washington, D.C. Attorney General (AG) Karl Racine is suing chemical manufacturer Velsicol to recover damages caused by the company’s production and promotion of the insecticide chlordane despite full knowledge of the extreme hazards posed by the pesticide. Over 30 years after it was banned, chlordane is still contaminating homes, schools, yards, private wells and waterways throughout the United States, including DC’s Anacostia and Potomac rivers. While the District’s focus on restitution and remediation for this highly hazardous, long-lived insecticide is laudable, many advocates say the city is not doing enough to stop pesticide contamination currently entering the city’s waterways. Despite passage of a strong pesticide bill in 2016 limiting toxic pesticide use on schools, child occupied facilities, and within 75ft of a waterbody, D.C. Department of Energy and Environment (DDOE) director Tommy Wells has failed to update regulations and enforce the law. Chlordane is an organochlorine insecticide, of the same class as DDT, and was likewise discussed extensively in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Like other organochlorines, it is bioaccumulative, increasing contamination levels as it works its way up the food chain, and highly persistent, remaining in the environment for decades and perhaps even centuries, with breakdown […]

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Pyrethroid Insecticides Associated with Liver Disease

Friday, October 7th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, October 7, 2022) Pyrethroid insecticides are associated with the growing worldwide epidemic of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition that causes swelling of the liver and can eventually lead to cirrhosis, cancer, or liver failure. According to research published in Environmental Science and Ecotechnology, exposure to pyrethroids like bifenthrin can induce gut microbiota dysbiosis (an imbalance in microorganisms in the intestines). This dysbiosis results in abnormal lipid (fat) metabolism and subsequent accumulation of lipids in liver cells, contributing to NAFLD development. Gut microbiota plays a crucial role in lifelong digestion, immune and central nervous system regulation, as well as other bodily functions. Through the gut biome, pesticide exposure can enhance or exacerbate the adverse effects of additional environmental toxicants on the body. Since the gut microbiome shapes metabolism, it can mediate some toxic effects of environmental chemicals. However, with prolonged exposure to various environmental contaminants, critical chemical-induced changes may occur in the gut microbes, influencing adverse health outcomes. Considering NAFLD is becoming the most prevalent form of liver disease, impacting at least 25 percent of the globe, and a growing body of evidence demonstrates the significance gut microbiota play in overall health, safety analyses that currently do not consider the […]

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Pesticide Exposure Associated with Anemia and Blood Disorders in Farmworkers

Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, September 22, 2022) A study published in the International Journal of English, Literature, and Social Science (IJELS) finds an association between pesticide exposure and anemia among female farmers in Indonesia. Anemia is an autoimmune blood disorder negatively affecting the number of red blood cells (RBCs) and subsequent oxygen distribution via available hemoglobin proteins in RBCs. Types of anemia include iron deficiency, pernicious (lack of vitamin B-12 absorption), aplastic (lack of RBC production), and hemolytic (RBC destruction). Although risk factors for anemia consist of age, genetics, lifestyle, and gender, environmental factors such as pesticide use and exposure contribute to disorder development. Pesticides can interfere with cells in the body, causing blood profile abnormalities that affect blood cell formation and immune system function. Anemia disproportionately impacts women and children across the globe, prevalent in over half a billion women. The disorder was more prevalent among pregnant individuals because of blood loss and iron deficiency, causing adverse reproductive outcomes among children. These outcomes include preterm delivery, low birth weight, and decreased iron stores, impairing cognitive and motor development. Considering research already demonstrates many chemicals (e.g., pesticides, heavy metals) can enter the bloodstream through ingestion, absorption through the eyes and skin, or inhalation, studies like […]

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As Thyroid Cancer Cases Rise, Study Finds Pesticides Link

Friday, August 26th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, August 26, 2022) New research from a team in California finds one-third of pesticides it reviewed — including glyphosate, paraquat dichloride, and oxyfluorfen — to be associated with the development of thyroid cancer. Researchers investigated the links between exposure to pesticides — including 29 that cause DNA cell damage — and the risk of this cancer. The researchers also find that in all the single-pollutant models they employed, paraquat dichloride — a widely used herbicide — was linked to this cancer. In 2021, Beyond Pesticides covered research by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) that demonstrated that exposures to lindane and metalaxyl also cause heightened risk of thyroid cancer. These study findings add to the already considerable concern about pervasive pesticide exposure — not only among farmers and applicators, but also in the general population. It is worth noting that, in addition to elevated thyroid cancer risks, multiple pesticides can cause other health damage. Paraquat is also acutely toxic, and can cause longer-term reproductive, renal, and hepatic damage to humans; it is toxic to birds, fish, and other aquatic organisms, and slightly so to honeybees. Glyphosate, as Beyond Pesticides has written frequently, is carcinogenic, and is associated […]

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Researchers Determine Mechanism of DDT Link to Alzheimer’s, Informing Potential Treatments

Wednesday, August 24th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, August 24, 2022) New research is helping the medical community understand the mechanism through which exposure to the banned insecticide DDT increases risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, a team of researchers from Florida International University and Rutgers used multiple models to demonstrate the effects of DDT on the production of toxic proteins in the brain. The constant stream of new health risks regarding a chemical banned decades ago underlines the importance of a precautionary approach to pesticide regulation, particularly as red flags are already being raised about the connection between widely used weed killers like glyphosate and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. “The vast majority of research on the disease has been on genetics — and genetics are very important — but the genes that actually cause the disease are very rare,” says study coauthor Jason Richardson, PhD of Florida International University. “Environmental risk factors like exposure to DDT are modifiable. So, if we understand how DDT affects the brain, then perhaps we could target those mechanisms and help the people who have been highly exposed.” Previous research from Dr. Richardson found that DDT exposure increased risk of Alzheimer’s by four times. Scientists […]

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Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Contribute to Liver Injury, including Toxic PFAS and Pesticides

Friday, August 12th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, August 12, 2022) Gestational (during pregnancy) exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) like pesticides, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), among others, may increase pediatric (child) liver injury and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) risk, according to a study published in Environmental Health. Past studies associate exposure to EDCs with increased susceptibility to adverse health effects during critical fetal and childhood developmental periods. The World Health Organization (WHO), European Union (EU), and endocrine disruptor expert (deceased) Theo Colborn, Ph.D., classify over 55 to 177 chemical compounds as endocrine disruptors, including various household products like detergents, disinfectants, plastics, and pesticides. Endocrine disruption can lead to several health problems, including hormone-related cancer development (i.e., thyroid, breast, ovarian, prostate, testicular), reproductive dysfunction, and diabetes/obesity that can span generations. Because EDCs are ubiquitous because they are found in many products, studies report that these toxic chemical compounds are detectable in infants, children, and pregnant women. Furthermore, pregnant women can readily transfer compounds to the developing fetus through the placenta. Therefore, it is essential to understand the mechanism behind how harmful chemical exposure induces endocrine disruption during critical developmental periods. Researchers note, “Considering the lack of studies on endocrine disruption and pediatric NAFLD, research like this highlights the need to understand the underlying […]

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Scientific Literature Review Again Connects Pesticides and Male Fertility Problems

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, August 3, 2022) A systematic review of scientific studies on pesticides and fertility finds exposure associated with lower semen quality, DNA fragmentation, and chromosomal abnormalities. Published in the journal Andrology, the review is yet another warning from a long string of researchers sounding the alarm over the connection between global fertility and toxic chemical exposure. With data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  indicating roughly 1 in 5 couples are unable to conceive after a year of trying, and trends continuing to slope downwards, it is critical that contributing factors be identified so that protective changes can be made.   After screening over 1,300 studies, researchers narrowed their review down to 64 papers assessing semen parameters and DNA integrity after pesticide exposure. Each study is analyzed for its design, the pesticide investigated,  the population studied, controls, and reproductive effects determined. Pesticides are evaluated for their impacts to sperm quality and DNA integrity based on their chemical class. Organochlorine insecticides, which are all banned but still persistent in soil, air, water, and food in the United States, include a range of impacts to sperm quality. Higher levels of DDT or its breakdown metabolite DDE are […]

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Pesticide Exposure Driving Liver Disease through Hormone Disrupting Mechanisms

Thursday, July 21st, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, July 21, 2022) Research published in Scientific Reports finds an association between the increasing emergence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and exposure to endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals, like organochlorine pesticides (OCPs). It is well-known that traces of legacy (past-use) pesticides, like organochlorines, remain in the environment for decades—possibly centuries, post-final application, as OCPs have greater chemical stability and gradual attenuation. However, these chemicals have profound adverse impacts on human health, especially on the endocrine system. Obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and elevated liver enzyme resulting from endocrine disruption contribute to NAFLD and can lead to liver cirrhosis. Although some, but not all, manufacturing and use of specific OCPs have declined in the U.S., OCPs remain a global issue, as much of the developing world still reports usage. Considering the lack of studies on OCP-induced endocrine disruption and NAFLD, research like this highlights the need to understand the underlying mechanisms that contribute to growing endocrine disease incidents.   The study determined that there is an association between OCP exposure and NAFLD using the fatty liver index (FLI), a predictor of lipid (fat) accumulation in the liver. The researcher collected blood serum to measure the concentration of OCPs, specifically evaluating detectable […]

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Banned Pesticides Still Present in the Environment Linked to Hearing Loss

Tuesday, July 19th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2022) Banned pesticides still persistent in the environment pose an increased risk of hearing impairment for U.S. adults, according to research published this month in Scientific Reports. Although regular use of DDT and hexachlorobenzene (HCB) no longer occurs in the United States, exposure to these persistent chemicals can still occur through a range of sources, including air, water, sediment, soil and food. As new science continues to find harmful health effects of older pesticides, advocates say new laws are needed to ensure long term hazards don’t arise from the more than 1,200 active ingredients currently registered by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with little to no independent scientific oversight. Hearing loss affects nearly 40 million (~15%) American adults over age 18. While it is clear that common causes like aging and noise exposure can result in hearing loss, there has been increasing attention to the role environmental contaminants may be playing in hearing disorders. To explore any potential connection, researchers analyzed data from the long-running U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Blood serum levels of the organochlorine insecticides HCB, p, p’-DDE (a breakdown product of DDT), trans-nonachlor, and dieldrin were compared against audiometry […]

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Take Action: Male Fertility Harmed by Pesticides and EPA Dysfunction

Monday, July 18th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, July 18, 2022) The failure of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to meet its statutory responsibility to protect people and wildlife from the dire consequences of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals must end. A study published in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology adds urgency to the need to eliminate endocrine-disrupting pesticides. The authors find that prepubescent exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), including pesticides, impairs male reproduction through the interruption of testicular homeostasis and development of reproductive Leydig cells, and can have multigenerational effects. This adds to the long list of scientific articles showing EPA neglect of the devastating effects of widely used pesticides. Tell EPA that pesticide use cannot continue without findings of no endocrine disruption. Tell Congress to ensure that EPA does its job. More than 50 pesticide active ingredients have been identified as endocrine disruptors that mimic the action of a naturally-produced hormone, such as estrogen or testosterone, thereby setting off similar chemical reactions in the body; block hormone receptors in cells, thereby preventing the action of normal hormones; or affect the synthesis, transport, metabolism and excretion of hormones, thus altering the concentrations of natural hormones. Endocrine disruptors have been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), […]

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Highlighting the Connection Environmental Racism and the Agricultural Industry Through History

Thursday, June 9th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, June 9, 2022) A report from the Organic Center finds that people in U.S. BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities endure a significant disproportionate risk of exposure to pesticides and subsequent harms. The report also contains a lesson plan that informs young activists on how to improve the food system. Many communities of color and low-socioeconomic backgrounds experience an unequal number of hazards, including nearby toxic waste plants, garbage dumps, and other sources of environmental pollution and odors that lower the quality of life. Therefore, these populations experience greater exposure to harmful chemicals and suffer from health outcomes that affect their ability to learn and work. Doctoral candidate at Northwestern University and author of the report and lesson plan, Jayson Maurice Porter, notes, “Urban planning and city policy considers certain people in certain communities more or less disposable and puts them in harm’s way, giving them an uneven burden of experiencing and dealing with things like pollutants.”  The father of environmental justice, Robert Bullard, Ph.D., defines environmental racism as any policy or practice that unequally affects or disadvantages individuals, groups, or communities based on their race. Dr. Bullard stated that, until the 1980s, environmentalism and pollution were separate. During the Jim […]

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Neurotoxic Pesticides Disrupt Gut Function Linked to Parkinson’s Disease Development

Thursday, May 26th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 26, 2022) A study published in The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology finds environmental exposure to neurotoxic pesticides increases Parkinson’s Disease (PD) risk through gastrointestinal (GI) disruption. Research finds exposure to chemical toxicants, like pesticides, can cause neurotoxic effects or exacerbate preexisting chemical damage to the nervous system. Although the mechanism by which pesticides induce disease development remains unclear, this study suggests environmental pesticide exposure disrupts GI cells responsible for supporting the autonomic nervous system. Enteric glial cells (EGCs) are GI cells that play a critical role in the functional changes that accompany GI dysfunction, as this dysfunction is one of the earliest symptoms indicating the onset of PD. Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, with at least one million Americans living with PD and about 50,000 new diagnoses each year. The disease affects 50% more men than women, and individuals with PD have a variety of symptoms, including loss of muscle control and trembling, anxiety and depression, constipation and urinary difficulties, dementia, and sleep disturbances. Identifying early biomarkers of PD, such as pesticide-mediated toxicity on GI cells, is crucially important as symptoms intensify overtime, with no current cure for this fatal disease. While only […]

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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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Pesticide Concentration through Metamorphosis Contaminates Birds and Bats

Wednesday, April 27th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 27, 2022) Pesticides can accumulate in aquatic fly larvae, be retained through metamorphosis, and represent a source of chronic pesticide exposure to birds and bats, according to research published in Environmental Science and Technology earlier this month. As population declines among these critical wildlife continue to mount, findings like these highlight the complex ways in which human activities are further stressing natural systems. Pesticide reviews conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are limited to an outdated set of studies conducted by the pesticide industry, and generally reject and dismiss emerging science from independent literature. This myopic focus on industry studies has brought widespread contamination to the natural world that necessitates wholescale changes at EPA through Congressional action. With widespread acknowledgement that older pesticide chemistries, such as organochlorines like DDT and aldrin, bioconcentrate in living organisms, researchers aimed their study at present use fungicides and herbicides that have not yet undergone similar scrutiny. This includes seven fungicides—azoxystrobin, boscalid, cyflufenamid, fluopyram, tebuconazole, pyrimethanil, and trifloxystrobin—and two herbicides—napropamide and propyzamide. The study notes that formulated end use products, rather than technical grade active ingredients, were used in order to best mimic real world exposure conditions. Larvae of the […]

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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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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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Pesticides and Parkinson’s Disease: The Toxic Effects of Pesticides on the Brain

Thursday, December 16th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, December 16, 2021) A study by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, finds Parkinson’s Disease (PD) risk increases with elevated levels of organochlorine (OCP) and organophosphate (OP) pesticides in blood. Among patients with PD, specific organochlorine compounds have greater associations with cognitive impairments, including depression and brain function. Research finds exposure to chemical toxicants, like pesticides, can cause neurotoxic effects or exacerbate preexisting chemical damage to the nervous system. Although the mechanism by which pesticides induce disease development remains unclear, researchers suggest changes in protein enzyme composition and cellular dysfunction from pesticide exposure interrupt normal brain function. Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, with at least one million Americans living with PD and about 50,000 new diagnoses each year. The disease affects 50% more men than women, and individuals with PD have a variety of symptoms, including loss of muscle control and trembling, anxiety and depression, constipation and urinary difficulties, dementia, and sleep disturbances. Over time, symptoms intensify, but there is no current cure for this fatal disease. While only 10 to 15 percent of PD incidences are genetic, PD is quickly becoming the world’s fastest-growing brain disease. Therefore, research like this highlights the need to examine alternate […]

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Pesticide Use on Island Resorts Tied to Biodiversity Collapse

Wednesday, December 8th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, December 8, 2021) The diversity, abundance, and richness of invertebrate species on oceanic islands declines as a result of pesticide use, urban development, and other human activities, finds research published recently in Royal Society Open Science. Oceanic islands, despite their small size, harbor 20% of all species, and 50% of endangered species, making conservation critically important in the context of a sixth mass extinction and insect apocalypse. As the study indicates, “Although agriculture is currently considered the predominant driver of the worldwide species decline, it is crucial to investigate and consider all human land uses for obtaining a global impact assessment, especially in regions where land use types other than agriculture are predominant.” To determine the primary drivers of species declines on oceanic islands, researchers divided land use type into urban, tourist, and uninhabited. To provide a clean delineation between the various land uses, the study was carried out in the Republic of Maldives. Out of the roughly 1,200 Maldives Islands, researchers chose four uninhabited islands without any permanent human activity, four densely inhabited ‘urban’ islands comprised of Maldives residents, of four resort islands focused solely on tourism. Researchers applied a grid of 1 by 1 meter plots […]

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Banned Pesticides Associated with Endometriosis

Wednesday, December 1st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, December 1, 2021) Women exposed to metabolites of the banned insecticide chlordane are over three times more likely to develop endometriosis, finds research published in the journal Environment International. The study is the latest to find links between persistent organic pollutants (POPs), still lingering in our environment and in our bodies, and chronic disease. According to an economic analysis conducted in 2016, exposure to endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals, often implicated in considerable damage to the body’s reproductive system, results in billions of dollars of health care costs from female reproductive disorders. Researchers set out to integrate two methodologies into their evaluation, combining analysis of POP biomarkers in blood with an analysis of biomarkers in that body that correspond with cell functioning, inflammation, and stress. A total of 87 women were enrolled in the study, half of whom had deep endometriosis, a quarter of whom also had the disease and sought surgical intervention, and a remaining quarter without reproductive concerns acted as a control. Twenty polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and 30 organochlorine pesticide compounds were analyzed, as were various biomarkers and inflammatory cytokines. The analysis revealed two compounds to be positively associated with endometriosis – trans-nonachlor, a breakdown product of […]

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Pesticide Exposure Contributes to Preterm Births and Low Birth Weight

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 18, 2021) A study published by King George’s Medical University, India, finds exposure to xenobiotic substances like pesticides during pregnancy increases risks associated with preterm birth, including a rise in cesarean section (C-section) deliveries and a decrease in fetal body weight. Preterm births occur when a fetus is born early or before 37 weeks of complete gestation. Premature births can result in chronic (long-term) illnesses among infants from lack of proper organ development and even death. Birth and reproductive complications are increasingly common among individuals exposed to environmental toxicants, like pesticides. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports the preterm birth rate is increasing annually. Therefore, studies like this can help government and health officials safeguard human health by assessing adverse effects following prevalent chemical exposure. The study notes, “To the best of our knowledge, this was a pioneering study, and it may help to increase our knowledge with regard to xenobiotic exposure in biological systems and the need for stringent guidelines for agricultural use of pesticides.” The study examines the association between the transfer of xenobiotics (foreign synthetic substances like pesticides) from mother to fetus. Transferal of these toxic substances can result in biological and chemical changes (i.e., genotoxicity […]

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Research on Thousands of Organic and Chemical-Intensive Farms Illustrates Stark Difference in Toxic Chemical Use

Friday, September 24th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2021) Recent research out of California sought to compare (and quantify) differences in total pesticide use, and in use of pesticides of specific concern, across conventional and organic agricultural fields in the state. The research team, from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, finds an 18–31% likely reduction in spraying of pesticides on organically managed fields compared to conventional, and a 27% likely reduction in use of pesticide products with high acute human toxicity for organic versus conventional fields. Readers may be gasping, and thinking, “Wait, what?! I thought organic farming does not use pesticides! Help?” There is a world of difference between the pesticides used in organic and in conventional production. Though conventional growers are allowed to use thousands of synthetic compounds on their crops, seeds, and soils — no matter their toxicity, as long as EPA has permitted them — Certified Organic growers are permitted to use only “natural” or naturally derived pesticide products, and a very limited number, at that. Organic growers may use any of the products listed in “The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances,” as established by the NOP’s (National Organic Program’s) National […]

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Persistent Organic Pollutants, including Banned Pesticides, Remain Present in all Fetal Organs Regardless of Maternal Chemical Contamination

Thursday, September 16th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 16, 2021) A study published in Chemosphere finds persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), are present in the serum and placenta of pregnant mothers, as well as multiple fetal organs. Many studies indicate prenatal and early-life exposure to environmental toxicants increases susceptibility to diseases, from learning and developmental disabilities to cancer. However, this study is one of the first to demonstrate the presence of chemical toxicants in fetal tissue that are not present in maternal serum or placental samples. Prenatal development is one of the most vulnerable periods of exposure when the fetus is most susceptible to the harmful effects of chemical contaminants. Therefore, studies like these help government and health officials better identify fetal exposure contaminants and subsequent health concerns otherwise missed by current chemical monitoring methods. The researchers note, “These findings call for further evaluation of the current matrices used to estimate fetal exposure and establish a possible correction factor for a more accurate assessment of exposure in utero. We disclose the full data set on individual exposure concentrations to assist in building in silico models for prediction of human fetal exposure to chemicals.” Several studies associate early-life exposure to toxic chemicals […]

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