Pesticide Action Network Updates Service (PANUPS)
A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives
See PANUPS archive for complete information.
- Pesticide industry cheers EPA testing roll-back
- 40% of US children have dangerous OP pesticides exposure
- Endosulfan one step closer to global ban
- Flea collars will be carbaryl-free by Sept. 2010
- Nutiva will double your gift this week
In a disturbing move for those concerned about scientific integrity and public health, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is pushing U.S. EPA to use outdated or irrelevant studies and restrict gathering of new data. The ruling is on a program launched in April 2009 on the effects of certain chemicals on the human endocrine system. The OMB order - which would weaken the integrity of a screening program of monumental importance for human health that is already 10 years overdue - reeks of corporate influence. The New York Times reports that the industry association CropLife America had already petitioned EPA about avoiding the “unnecessary and redundant testing” called for by the endocrine disruptor screening program. But EPA had decided to move ahead with requests for new scientific tests, based on the emergence of new scientific data.
For the first time, university and government researchers are using biomonitoring data on exposure to organophosphate (OP) pesticides to estimate the health risk associated with that exposure – a cumulative exposure from multiple sources. The researchers used the data of OP metabolite levels in urine from the large national dataset of the Centers for Disease Control’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Then they back-calculated to estimate the level of exposure, or dose. Next they compared their estimates with toxicity information from U.S. EPA for one common mechanism of action (brain cholinesterase inhibition). The result suggested that: "40% of children in the United States may have had insufficient margins of exposure (MOEs) for neurological impacts from cumulative exposures to OP pesticides (MOE less than 1000)." "This is an excellent research tool that can make the NHNES data set much more useful for informing the development of more health-protective policies," comments Dr. Margaret Reeves, Senior Scientist at Pesticide Action Network. "However, with respect to OP pesticides in particular, PAN and others have repeatedly argued that EPA’s limited focus on cholinesterase inhibition fails to consider other important mechanisms of toxicity, including those influencing neurological development. Therefore the real health risks associated with the levels of OP exposure suggested by the NHANES data are likely to be even greater."
Last Friday in Geneva, an international committee of scientific experts concluded that “endosulfan is likely, as a result of its long-range environmental transport, to lead to significant adverse human health and environmental effects, such that global action is warranted.” The decision sets the stage for a global ban of the insecticide under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), the same treaty that bans dioxins, PCBs, and the agricultural use of DDT. “The Committee confirmed what PAN and our partners around the world have been saying years: endosulfan is a POP and its use needs to end,” notes PANNA staff scientist Karl Tupper, who was present at the Geneva meeting. “They acknowledged that it is highly toxic to humans and the environment, that it is persistent, and that it is transported to the Arctic where it accumulates in the food chain.” But the decision was not without controversy. India - the world’s largest producer, user, and exporter of endosulfan - refused to accept to evidence of endosulfan’s harm and even disputed the legitimacy of the committee’s previous work on endosulfan. “While its unfounded scientific arguments and dubious legal interpretations found no currency among the other committee members, the endosulfan industry - who was present at the meeting in full force - happily parroted India’s objections and contributed its own disingenuous arguments,” said Tupper. When a vote was finally taken, India was alone among the 31 committee members to oppose endosulfan moving forward. As Reuters reports, the historic decision moves endosulfan one step closer to a global phaseout, but 2011 is the earliest that a final decision on its fate could be taken.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced (PDF) this week that all flea collars will be free of the pesticide carbaryl by September 2010. The action came in response to a 2005 petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) requesting that the Agency withdraw use of the pesticide in pet collars because of high exposures to children and the availability of safer alternatives. Other pet products containing carbaryl were voluntarily withdrawn by 2006, but Wellmark International continued to sell pet collars containing the chemical. Carbaryl, known by its trade name "Sevin," is commonly used on lawns and gardens and on many agricultural crops including apples, grapes, oranges and corn. "Agriculture and other residential uses still remain a concern," reports Jennifer Sass of NRDC in her blog. EPA has found that agricultural use of carbaryl can contaminate rivers and streams, and the chemical is known to be toxic to bees and other pollinators.
Between Oct. 22 and Nov 2, donations you make online to Pesticide Action Network will be matched, dollar for dollar, by the organic foods company Nutiva. “Nutiva Foods supports PAN," says John Roulac, author, founder and Nutiva CEO, "because its work complements our values and business practices. We realize that making a reasonable profit enables the company to grow; yet proﬁts can’t be placed above the health and welfare of people or the planet. We are delighted to offer this challenge and hope you’ll check us out.” Member donations keep services like PANUPs and PAN Action Alerts, as well as campaigns to eliminate pesticides, promote alternatives, and protect you, your neighbors and communities around the world. Stand with us by making a doubled-donation today.