A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives
See PANUPS updates service, for complete information.
August 9, 2007
Workers sue EPA to ban chlorpyrifos: Farmworker advocacy groups sued EPA last week to ban the organophosphate pesticide chlorpyrifos, commonly known as Lorsban (Dow trade name). The neurotoxic chemical is already banned by EPA for residential use, due to its especially high risk to children. Chlorpyrifos has been linked to developmental delays in children, is suspected of triggering asthma, and inhibits an enzyme (cholinesterase) essential for normal nervous system function. Last month, while preparations for the lawsuit were well underway, California reported three chlorpyrifos-related incidents. On July 2, a tanker truck crashed on California's highway 99, spewing burning chlorpyrifos over a large area --nearby residents complained of painful fumes. On July 10 and 21, chlorpyrifos contaminations sickened agricultural workers in separate events. United Farmworkers of America is also calling on California state authorities to take action. The coalition bringing suit includes: EarthJustice, Farmworker Justice, Natural Resources Defense Council and California Rural Legal Assistance, on behalf of United Farm Workers, Teamsters Local 890 in California, Sea Mar Community Health Centers, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, Frente Indigena de Organizaciones Binacionales, Farm Labor Organizing Committee, Beyond Pesticides and PAN North America; and Martha Rodriguez and Silvina Canez, farmworkers in California. Dow says the lawsuit is "without merit." The Seattle Times has the story.
Paraquat pulled from European markets: Following a European Union court ruling (PANUPS, July 12; PAN North America magazine, Summer 2007) reversing authorization of plant protection uses of the herbicide paraquat, PAN Europe has learned that the EU's Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health instructed member states that "they should remove paraquat from the market and revoke its authorization". The French Ministry of Farming and Fishing withdrew authorization on July 20, 2007. "The Ministry's decision takes immediate effect, and applies to all pre-existing stocks containing the herbicide," according to PAN Europe's new on-line information resource, "Paraquat Watch -- Countdown to a Global Ban". The German Consumer Protection Office suspended sale and use of Gramoxone Extra, a Syngenta brand of paraquat, on July 13, and on Aug. 2 the Netherlands announced: "Sales of pesticides containing paraquat must end before 1 October 2007. Existing stocks cannot be used beyond 1 December 2007." The UK is assessing whether it must revoke authorization prior to an appeal of the court ruling. Paraquat is a highly toxic poison that causes serious, irreversible, untreatable and potentially deadly effects. It remains one of the most widely used active substances in weed control pesticides in some 120 countries, including the U.S. PAN Europe notes that EU member states may grant a period of grace for the use of existing stocks of paraquat.
DDT exposure linked to breast cancer: Researchers with the Public Health Institute analyzed the blood of 129 women for exposure to the organochlorine pesticide DDT. The women were selected from a Kaiser Permanente study that had collected and stored blood samples between 1959 and 1967. Women who had developed breast cancer before age 50 had higher amounts of DDT in their blood than young women who did not have breast cancer. Douglas Fischer of the Oakland Tribune reports, "DDT production peaked in the United States in 1965, and while most studies to date have concluded such exposure wasn't meaningful, this new evidence suggests those assurances may be premature. The most strongly affected women -- those exposed when young -- are just now reaching age 50." Researcher Barbara Cohn's previous work includes a study linking DDT to infertility in daughters of women exposed to DDT. Despite this growing evidence of human health impacts, increased reliance on DDT for malaria control in Africa is being promoted by the U.S. government and others. Read more.
Children vulnerable to chemical contamination: The World Health Organization's program on Children and Environmental Health issued a new report stating, "Air and water contaminants, pesticides in food, lead in soil, as well many other environmental threats which alter the delicate organism of a growing child may cause or worsen disease and induce developmental problems. Over 30% of the global burden of disease in children can be attributed to environmental factors." Read more.
Senate moves to undo Bush's attacks on TRI: The Senate Public Works and Environment Committee passed a bill by Senators Boxer and Lautenberg to undo Bush's weakening of the Toxic Release Inventory Act (TRI). The TRI forces companies to disclose the emissions and pollution they are releasing into communities. The Bill is expected to go before the full Senate in the Fall. The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that the Bush administration had already determined that many midsized Texas businesses would not have to report their pollution. OMB Watch has launched a campaign for the bill: Click here to ask your senator to support the Boxer-Lautenberg bill to restore the TRI.
Pets and pesticides: The Truth About Cats, Dogs, and Lawn Chemicals is an interactive video podcast that features stories from viewers. In the latest episode, three pet owners tell how their pets' exposure to pesticides caused the pets to become sick and die. Pet owners are invited to send in video and photos of their animals that will be used in this educational series about pets and pesticides.
Organic meat and dairy improves breast milk: A new study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, links organic dairy and meat products in a mother's diet to improved nutritional quality in her breast milk. Prism News reports, "a diet in which 90% or more of dairy and meat products are organic is correlated with measurably higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is a type of fat that is believed to have anti-carcinogenic, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-diabetic and immune-enhancing effects, as well as a favorable influence on body fat composition. For newborns specifically, CLA is believed to especially aid immune system development."