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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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With Decision on Insecticide, EPA Betrays Protection of Pollinators. . .Again

Monday, May 9th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 9, 2022) While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated its guidelines for pollinator risk assessments in 2014, the agency continues to either fail to conduct full assessments, or dismiss concerning data it receives. EPA appears to discount threats like the insect apocalypse, evidenced by a 75% decline in insect abundance, which threatens not only global ecosystems, but also food production that depends on animal pollination. As pesticides move through the food web, birds are also at risk. Bird numbers are down 29% since Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring in 1962. Tell EPA To Protect Against Other Threats to Pollinators. Tell Congress To Insist that EPA Does Its Job. The problem is highlighted by EPA’s recent Interim Decision on fenbuconazole, in which the agency notes that, “For larval bees, RQs (risk quotients) exceed the LOC (level of concern) for all pollinator attractive uses including when assessed at the lowest application rate of 0.0938 lb a.i./Acre (RQ = 1.1).” Yet in the same document, the agency declares that “…the benefits of fenbuconazole (e.g., efficacy in management of fungal pathogens) outweigh any remaining risk and that continuing to register fenbuconazole provides significant benefits, including its ability to increase crop […]

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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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Coverup of Dog Deaths at EPA, According to Internal Emails on Seresto Flea and Tick Collars

Friday, April 1st, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 1, 2022) According to reporting by E&E’s Greenwire, internal emails at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show that career scientists at the agency expressed worry about pesticide-laced pet collars, such as the notorious Seresto flea and tick collars, but that EPA managers “instructed them to avoid documenting those worries in publicly accessible records.” The emails were released pursuant to a 2021 FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) lawsuit, brought by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), that sought records of internal communications. The documents evidence staff concern about the collars that has not been a part of EPA’s public communications on the subject. EPA staff, in the emails, expressed a range of degrees of outrage at managers’ behavior and at the very registration of the product, given the significant harms. Seresto collars are plastic pet collars embedded with pesticides designed to kill fleas, ticks, and lice; they contain the active ingredients flumethrin and imidacloprid. Flumethrin, a chemical in the pyrethroid class of synthetic neurotoxic insecticides, has been linked repeatedly to neurological issues, such as seizures and learning disabilities in children, to gastrointestinal distress, and to damage to nontarget invertebrates, according to EPA’s own analysis. Imidacloprid is a commonly used pesticide linked to […]

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Minnesota Biomonitoring Study Addresses Children’s Exposure to Pesticides, Air Pollutants, and Toxic Metals

Wednesday, March 9th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 9, 2022) In response to local concerns around children’s environmental exposures, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recently published biomonitoring data collected from young children living in urban and rural areas of the state. The findings provide local residents and lawmakers with baseline data on the hazards children are encountering where they live, learn, or play, and point to ways in which families can reduce or eliminate these dangers. With evidence that early life exposures during “critical windows of vulnerability” increase risk of long-term health problems, it is critical for state agencies to both collect data, and take meaningful action to protect children from future harms. Minnesota lawmakers established a state biomonitoring program in 2007, and have since expanded the project. The current report represents the results of MDH’s Healthy Rural and Urban Kids Project aimed at biomonitoring chemicals in young children. For this round, the agency focused on preschool-aged children living in MN’s rural Becker, Todd, and Wadena counties, as well as those living in urban North Minneapolis. MDH enrolled 232 families during the summer of 2018, provided them with a questionnaire, and tested children for 21 different chemicals in their urine. The chemicals tested were […]

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Study Confirms Children’s Exposure to Mosquito Pesticides Increases Risk of Respiratory Disease

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 3, 2022) Children’s exposure to synthetic pyrethroid insecticides, particularly during the course of mosquito control operations, is associated with increased occurrence of certain respiratory diseases and allergic outcomes, finds research published in the journal Thorax late last month. With a pandemic respiratory virus continuing to spread throughout the world, it has become increasingly important to avoid environmental exposures that can harm lung health. This research underscores the critical need for homeowners, farmers, and vector control officials to shift away from chemical use as the first line of defense against pest problems in order to safeguard children’s health. A total of 303 women and their children participated in the study, which tracked pesticide exposure during pregnancy and then at age five. All participants in the study lived within roughly three miles of a banana plantation. A structured questionnaire captured a range of variables, from socioeconomic status to medical history, local environmental conditions, occupation, and demographics. Researchers collected urine samples from pregnant mothers during the first visit, and their children during the 5-year follow-up. Urine samples were analyzed for metabolites concerning a range of pesticides, including chlorpyrifos, synthetic pyrethroids, the fungicides mancozeb, pyrimethanil, and thiabendazole, and the herbicide 2,4-D. […]

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Biotech Fixes for Pesticide Failures Continue Treadmill of Increased Toxic Chemical Use

Friday, February 11th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, February 11, 2022) A team of researchers has proffered a potential, biotechnical, way forward in the quest to reduce the scourge of malaria, which affects many people across the world. Their work uses the relatively new “Crispr” technique to address, and reverse, the growing problem of mosquito resistance to the pesticides that currently dominate control strategies for the insects that spread the disease. This innovation nevertheless raises concern about both the introduction of new, genetically altered organisms into the environment without sufficient information on the implications, and continued, intensive pesticide use. Beyond Pesticides recognizes, as do the researchers, that malaria-borne mosquitoes pose a serious public health problem; however, it advocates for alternatives to chemical approaches to managing the spread of the disease, and asserts that successful management strategies will contend with the underlying conditions that exacerbate that spread. In 2020, Executive Director Jay Feldman said, “We should focus on the deplorable living conditions, and inequitable distribution of wealth and resources worldwide that give rise to squalor, inhumane living conditions, and the poor state of development that, together, breed insect-borne diseases like malaria.”     Malaria, which is spread by female Anopheles mosquitoes infected with a Plasmodium parasite, causes illness in more than 200 million people annually, and is lethal to more than 400,000, […]

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USDA Food Pesticide Residue Survey Raises Alarm, while Pesticide Industry and EPA Mislead Public

Friday, February 4th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, February 4, 2022) In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued its 30th Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary report (which evaluates each year the presence of pesticide residues on produce) and misleads the public on the safety of food and agricultural practices. This 2020 report concludes that more than 99% of the produce samples tested showed residues below established U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) benchmark levels. At first blush, this sounds very reassuring, but Beyond Pesticides maintains that there is (always) more to the “safety” story, not least of which are serious deficiencies in EPA’s establishment of those “tolerances.” Those flaws include a lack of risk assessment for vulnerable sub-populations, such as farmworkers, people with compromised health, children, and perhaps, cultural/ethnic and regional sub-groups of the general population, and a failure to fully assess serious health outcomes such as disruption of the endocrine system (which contributes to numerous serious diseases). For everyone, Beyond Pesticides recommends choosing organic produce whenever possible — the vast majority of which does not contain synthetic pesticide residues. The PDP report asserts that “the data . . . illustrate that residues found in agricultural products sampled are at levels that do not pose […]

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Hazardous Synthetic Pyrethroid Insecticides Subject of Lawsuit Against EPA

Wednesday, January 19th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, January 19, 2022) After registering over 300 products containing synthetic pyrethroid pesticides within the last six years, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has done nothing to safeguard endangered species from toxic exposure to these chemicals, despite legal requirement to do so. This dereliction of duty is set to be the subject of a new lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity, which announced its intent to sue EPA. “The EPA admits pyrethroids’ wide-ranging harm to wildlife but still rubberstamps hundreds of pesticide products containing them without assessing their risks to endangered species,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center. “The EPA needs to get serious and come up with a comprehensive plan to address the havoc these pesticides are wreaking on the environment.” Synthetic pyrethroid insecticides are synthesized derivatives of pyrethrins, which are found in pyrethrum, an extract of dried chrysanthemum flowers. Compared to their natural counterpart, synthetic pyrethroids take significantly longer to degrade in the environment and thus pose longer term risks to humans and wildlife. The chemicals interfere with the proper function of the body’s sodium channels, resulting in harm to the central nervous system. Symptoms of poisoning include headache, nausea, incoordination, […]

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Chemical Exposure Monitoring Documents Widespread Pesticide Exposure to People and Pets

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2021) A study published in Environmental Science & Technology adds to the growing body of scientific research verifying the use of silicone devices as an effective tool for biomonitoring and disease prognosis, finding widespread exposure to people and pets. Researchers can identify the presence of chemical contaminants among humans and their canine companions occupying similar spaces using silicone monitoring devices (e.g., wristbands, collars, etc.). Although scientists can gauge chemical contamination with silicone devices, anthropoid (human) diseases can take many years to develop, even after initial contaminant exposure. Identifying chronic human diseases from pollutants remains challenging as scientists lack a full understanding of mechanisms involved in chemical-driven diseases development. However, dogs develop comparable anthropomorphic (human-like) diseases (e.g., cancer, organ damage) from susceptibility to the same environmental contaminants, but at a much quicker pace. Therefore, this research highlights the significance of identifying chemicals associated with diseases that are common across multiple species over longer disease latency periods. The researchers note, “These results, in combination with our recent study investigating uptake rates of chemicals on wristbands, demonstrate that silicone samplers can be used to assess average integrated exposure over time (in this case over a week of exposure). Studies such as […]

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Household Pesticide Use Harms Infant Motor Skill Development

Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, January 5, 2022) Household pesticide use is associated with harmful impacts to infant motor development, according to a study published late last year in the journal Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology. The research focused on primarily low-income Hispanic women located in Los Angeles, California, enrolled in an ongoing study referred to as Maternal and Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES). As with other pollutants in society, low-income, people of color communities are disproportionately in contact with toxic pesticides, resulting in exposures that can start early, and affect health over the course of one’s lifetime. Women enrolled in the MADRES cohort are over the age of 18, and speak English or Spanish fluently. For the present study, roughly 300 MADRES participants met the criteria for enrollment, and completed household pesticide use questionnaires at a 3-month post-natal visit. The questionnaire generally inquired whether pesticides had been used in one’s home since their child was born. After another 3 months, researchers also tested infants’ motor development using an Ages and Stages-3 protocol screening tool, which evaluates a child’s ability to execute muscle movements. Overall, roughly 22% of mothers reported pesticide use in their home during the first months of their […]

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Repeat Offender Amazon.com Fined $2.5 Million for Illegal Pesticide Sales

Tuesday, December 14th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, December 14, 2021) Multinational technology corporation Amazon.com, Inc will pay $2.5 million as part of a settlement with the Washington state Attorney General over illegal sales of highly toxic restricted use pesticides. The company has entered into a consent decree with the state of Washington, requiring the retailer to perform certain actions if it wants to restart pesticide sales, in addition to the fine. This is the second major penalty Amazon has received for illegal pesticide sales in recent years. The company was fined $1.2 million by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2018. Heath advocates are applauding Washington State officials for addressing the issue and urging increased vigilance and enforcement from other states regarding illegal online pesticide sales. According to the legal complaint, between 2013-2020, Amazon sold thousands of both restricted and general use pesticides to individuals in the state of Washington without a pesticide sales license. The company failed to disclose this information to consumers, and also failed to connect information from buyers of restricted use pesticides, a requirement in Washington state. As a result of Amazon’s illegal activities, there are now thousands of highly hazardous pesticides being used in Washington without documentation on its use […]

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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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Bug Bombs, Prone to Exploding, Are Target of Legislation to Ban Their Use

Monday, December 6th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, December 6, 2021) An effort is underway in New York State to restrict, and in certain cases ban, “bug bombs,” led by State Senator Zellnor Myrie (D-NYC). Total release foggers, more aptly referred to as bug bombs (because in some cases, they literally blow up), are dangerous indoor devices that release an aerosolized plume of toxic pesticides and unknown inert (or other) ingredients in an overpowered, ineffectual attempt to manage common pest problems. As Senator Myrie notes in his legislative justification for the bill, “This is an environmental justice issue disproportionately affecting lower-income individuals, as bug bombs are a relatively inexpensive pest management solution. As a result, individuals living in older, larger multi-dwellings, who also suffer from adverse health outcomes like asthma at higher rates, are disproportionately exposed to the harmful effects of bug bombs.” Urge your Governor (Mayor for DC residents) to ban bug bombs in your state!   Senator Myrie’s legislation, S.7516, will allow only certified pesticide applicators to purchase and use the dangerous devices, and would completely ban their use in multi-unit dwellings. “Foggers should not be used in multi-dwelling buildings, but existing New York state law does not prohibit this use,” Senator Myrie continues in […]

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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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Bill in New York Would Restrict Use of ‘Bug Bombs’ Statewide

Wednesday, November 17th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 17, 2021) New York state senator Zellnor Myrie (D-NYC) introduced legislation this week that would restrict, and in certain cases ban the use of ‘bug bombs’ in the state. Total release foggers, more aptly referred to as bug bombs (because in some cases, they literally blow up), are dangerous indoor devices that release an aerosolized plume of toxic pesticides and unknown inert ingredients in an overpowered, ineffectual attempt to manage common pest problems. As Sen. Myrie notes in his legislative justification for the bill, “This is an environmental justice issue disproportionately affecting lower-income individuals, as bug bombs are a relatively inexpensive pest management solution. As a result, individuals living in older, larger multi-dwellings, who also suffer from adverse health outcomes like asthma at higher rates, are disproportionately exposed to the harmful effects of bug bombs.” Senator Myrie’s legislation, S.7516, will allow only certified pesticide applicators to purchase and use the dangerous devices, and would completely ban their use in multi-unit dwellings. “Foggers should not be used in multi-dwelling buildings, but existing New York state law does not prohibit this use,” Sen Myrie continues in his legislative justification. “Restricting the sale of pesticide foggers to consumers, restricting their […]

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Study Finds Recently Banned, Common Insecticide Promotes Obesity Development, and Related Illnesses

Thursday, September 2nd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 2, 2021) A McMaster University (Canada) study demonstrates exposure to the recently banned, commonly used insecticide chlorpyrifos promotes obesity development, even at low doses. Obesity generally occurs following a caloric imbalance between food intake, absorption, and energy expenditure. Although various factors can promote obesity, researchers suggest environmental toxicants like chlorpyrifos play a role in obesity development through protein/enzyme suppression. According to the Center for Disease Control, 42 percent of the U.S. population is obese and at risk for type two diabetes, cardiovascular (heart) disease, stroke, several cancers, and other critical health issues. Therefore, research like this highlights the significance of investigating how toxic chemical exposure can impact health to prevent adverse disease outcomes. Researchers note, “These studies suggest that the effects of environmental toxicants on the development of obesity may have been underestimated as all studies to date have been conducted in mice housed at RT [room temperature]. Future studies examining the mechanisms driving reductions in β-AR [beta adrenergic receptors] signaling and whether there are associations between BAT [brown adipose tissue] metabolic activity and CPF [chlorpyrifos] in humans will be important.” Several environmental pollutants have links to obesity development via the effects on gut health, endocrine (hormone) and metabolic system, […]

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Biden EPA Reapproves Paraquat with Weaker Protections than Trump Administration Proposed

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, August 10, 2021) President Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under Administrator Michael Regan, is set to reapprove the highly hazardous herbicide paraquat with fewer protections than those proposed by the Trump administration. Despite strong links to Parkinson’s, and bans on the herbicide in the European Union, China, Brazil, and many other countries, EPA’s press release inexplicably states, “No direct one-to-one alternatives to paraquat are available.” The move is part of a string of actions that have pesticide reform advocates increasingly concerned that the Biden Administration is not living up to his initial promises to improve health and environmental protections. Paraquat is the most toxic herbicide still on the market. As EPA readily admits, one small sip of paraquat can be fatal. Apart from its acute toxicity, chronic exposure to the herbicide is strongly linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease. But its association with Parkinson’s is merely the most well-known health concern – the chemical is a likely carcinogen, harms the reproductive system, and damages organs like the kidney and liver. It is hazardous to birds and bees, and prone to leaching into groundwater, where it disrupts the health of aquatic ecosystems. The Trump administration’s decision to reapprove […]

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Deer Ticks Developing Resistance to Popular Tick Control Chemical: Implications of Lyme Disease

Thursday, July 22nd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 22, 2021) A new study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology finds black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapulari) in New York are developing potential resistance to widely used tick-control pyrethroid insecticide, permethrin. The study suggests continuous use of area-wide, 4-poster devices (devices that attract deer and then apply pesticide to their head, ears, and neck) to apply insecticide treatments on deer to control tick populations promotes resistance. Resistance is an ever-present issue among chemical compounds (i.e., antibiotics, antimicrobials, pesticides) used in medicine and agriculture, and threatening the ability to prevent disease outbreaks, such as Lyme disease. Furthermore, increasing populations of rodent and mammalian hosts, in addition to warmer temperatures prompted by the climate crisis, allows for disease-carrying ticks to flourish. Lyme disease is the most common vector disease and a primary concern for the general population. Therefore, studies like this highlight the need to assess resistance among disease-vector pest populations regardless of pesticide application methods. The researchers note, “Permethrin susceptibility of tick populations should be monitored from other 4-poster control areas so that guidelines for managing pesticide resistance in the field can be developed.” Four-poster devices impart selective pressure on tick populations influencing reproduction and natural extinction of species. However, like mosquitoes, a subpopulation of ticks […]

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Insecticide Chlorpyrifos Interacts with Genes to Increase Autism Risk, Research Finds

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 20, 2021) Chlorpyrifos exposure results in the expression of genetic mutations associated with autism spectrum disorder in a laboratory model, finds research published in Environmental Health Perspectives by scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “This is a step forward in showing an interplay between genetics and environment and its potential role for autism spectrum disorder,” says study lead Lena Smirnova, PhD, a research associate in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Bloomberg School. The findings support reams of research already conducted that show strong associations between autism and exposure to hazardous environmental stressors like toxic pesticides. Scientists conducted their study using a ‘brain organoid’ model, which is essentially a cluster of cells artificially grown in the lab from stem cells in order to mimic a developing human brain. These tests provide certain benefits over animal testing, as they are more relevant to human disease, and can be performed faster with less cost. The organoid model also represents an improvement on typical 2d cell-based models, increasing cell survival, shelf-life, and thus providing opportunity to model for later stages of brain development. Brain organoids in this study carried a gene called CHD8, which […]

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