A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives
See PANUPS updates service, for complete information.
September 14 , 2007
NRDC and PANNA ask EPA to ban chlorpyrifos: The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) filed a petition September 13th requesting that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stop use of the highly toxic pesticide, chlorpyrifos (a neurotoxic insecticide that can cause dizziness, confusion, vomiting, convulsions, numbness in the limbs, and even death). Hazards to children led to a ban in 2001 on chlorpyrifos use in homes. “It is inexcusable for the EPA to allow the use of a pesticide that they know to be damaging children, poisoning workers, and contaminating most Americans,” said NRDC scientist Dr. Jennifer Sass. “Poisonings due to accidents and drift of airborne pesticides remain a serious hazard to children in rural and agricultural settings,” said Dr. Margaret Reeves, PANNA senior scientist. Luis Medellin, a Lindsay, California resident, suffered first hand exposure to chlorpyrifos when it was applied to an orange grove near his house. “I got sick, and my mother and younger sisters started throwing up, all this in our own home.”
European Union recommends adding endosulfan to POPs Treaty: Widely used in Europe and elsewhere, the organochlorine pesticide endosulfan was proposed by the EU Council to be added to the Stockholm Convention, an international treaty aimed at global elimination of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) that already includes seven organochlorine pesticides such as DDT. A recent study in California’s Central Valley documented a link between a mother’s exposure to endosulfan and difocol in the first trimester of pregnancy, and the incidence of autism among children. The Health and Environment Alliance reports on the EU Stockholm Convention proposal.
Aerial spraying for moth in Monterey, CA:On Sept. 9-11, the California Dept. of Food and Agriculture launched a novel aerial application of “Checkmate,” (also en Español) a pheromone-based product , over agricultural and populated areas of Monterey County. Pheromones (sexual perfumes for insects) are used in mating disruption technologies and are believed to pose no substantial environmental or human health threats. The goal is to control a rapidly growing infestation of the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM), a tiny omnivorous pest only recently discovered in California. “In most other places [in the state so far],” the Los Angeles Times reports, “the battle is waged with pheromone-soaked twist-ties looped around plants and branches. But the numbers are too high and the area too great for that to work on the Monterey Peninsula, said state officials.” In recent months, chlorpyrifos and malathion -- both highly hazardous organophosphate pesticides pesticides – have also been proposed to “eradicate” the moth. PANNA has joined organic and conventional growers in supporting the pheromone application as a safer alternative approach. PANNA senior scientist Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman explained, “We understand that some community members are concerned about aerial spraying. We’d like to emphasize that pheromones, which have been approved for organic farming, are among the least hazardous of remedies and are far preferable to the use of toxic synthetic chemical pesticides.” More information is available at panna.org/LBAM.
Community charges pesticide fumigation violated court order: Residents of the Moss Landing Heights neighborhood near Monterey, California, say that their community was contaminated with fumigant pesticides during weather conditions that violated the direction of a court order. Telone and chloropicrin were applied August 22 and 24 after residents had tried to stop the fumigation. Now, residents say the exposure has made them ill. The Salinas Californian reports. Read more. Find out how you can help PANNA phase out fumigants.
Pesticide drift impacts rural South Africans as well as farmworkers: South Africa reporter Terry Bell says that chemical contamination of rural areas by pesticides is more widespread than is acknowledged by authorities. Bell reports in the syndicated news service Business Report, “Especially in areas such as the Western Cape where strong winds are common, aerial spraying can result in "pesticide drift" over many kilometres... exposure to such toxins may not have an acute or immediate effect; the effects can accumulate over many years.” Bell writes that labor unions are now supporting protections for farmworkers from pesticide contamination.
New Zealand activists suspect breast cancer link to lindane: The Breast Cancer Network reported to the New Zealand Parliament their findings that some pesticides used there are linked to cancer, including lindane. The Dominion Post reports, “Network member Meriel Watts [also of PAN New Zealand] presented the committee with research…that identified 98 pesticide ingredients that may increase the risk of breast cancer -- 43 of which are in use in New Zealand. They include lindane, which is commonly used in head lice treatments, and a range of synthetic pyrethroids found in fly sprays. ‘Ninety-nine per cent of housewives would have no clue that they are exposing themselves to chemicals that could be causing breast cancer, either in themselves or their children at a later date,’ Dr. Watts said.” Lindane is banned in the U.S. for agricultural use, but still allowed for pharmaceutical use in lice shampoo. Lindane is acutely toxic, a carcinogen and suspected endocrine disruptor. Take action with PANNA to ban lindane completely in the U.S.Tribe grows healthy potatoes in Idaho: Guy Hand Productions offers a radio program about Fort Hall Indian reservation’s success in rejecting fumigant pesticides for soil preparation for their potato crops. After discovering their wells were highly contaminated with nitrate fertilizers and ethylene dibromide pesticide, a carcinogen and suspected endocrine disruptor, some of their wells were shut down. The tribe has now turned to rotating a mustard crop instead of using fumigants to control soil pathogens to grow potatoes. PANNA magazine featured the Fort Hall success with mustard in the spring 2007 issue.