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Scientists call for increased chemical regulation; DDT & sperm count; EPA delays endocrine disruptor tests; more…
May 31, 2007
Scientists focus on environmental chemicals affecting early development: A “declaration by about 200 scientists from five continents amounts to a vote of confidence in a growing body of evidence that humans are vulnerable to long-term harm from toxic exposures in the womb and during the first years after birth,” writes Los Angeles Times reporter Marla Cone. At a conference on the north Atlantic Faroe Islands, sponsored by the World Health Organization, European Environment Agency, U.S. National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Philip Landrigan, chair of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Department of Community and Preventive Medicine and one of experts, summarized: “‘We have absolutely solid evidence for certain chemicals — lead, methyl mercury, PCBs, arsenic and the organophosphate pesticides….’ Yet there is ‘an incredible gap,’ he said, because 80% of major chemicals in commerce have never been tested to see if they damage early development.” DDT and atrazine were among pesticides singled out. “The scientists urged that government leaders not to wait for more scientific certainty and recommended that governments revise regulations and procedures to take into account subtle effects on fetal and infant development.”
U.S. EPA sued over pesticide risks to wildlife: The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) has sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for illegally approving 60 pesticides (including chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion) without consulting federal wildlife agencies to determine whether they pose a threat to endangered wildlife. The suit asks the U.S. District Court in San Francisco to compel the EPA to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as required by federal law. The Tucson, Arizona-based nonprofit states that the approved chemicals pose a threat to the endangered delta smelt, California clapper rail, salt marsh harvest mouse, and San Joaquin kit fox. The San Francisco Chronicle reports today: “For decades, the EPA has resisted consulting with other agencies and in 2004 changed a regulation to eliminate the requirement. Pesticide manufacturers supported the change, but a coalition of environmental groups challenged the rule in court and it was overturned in 2006.” CBD argues that “ending the use of known poisons in habitat for our most endangered wildlife is an appropriate 100th birthday tribute to Rachel Carson.”
DDT use in anti-malaria campaigns linked to low sperm-count: A new study of over 300 young men conducted in Limpopo, South Africa, has linked DDT exposure with low sperm count and other damage to the reproductive system. Dr. Tiaan de Jager, one of the researchers from the University of Pretoria’s School of Health Systems and Public Health, says, “There [is] now sufficient evidence for the department of health to be concerned about the health impacts of DDT and to consider moving towards safer alternative methods for malaria control.” According to The Mercury, “The researchers said there was mounting evidence from around the world that DDT acted as an endocrine-disrupting substance, which altered the normal human hormone balance, lowered testosterone levels and possibly interfered with sexual accessory organs such as the seminal vesicle and prostate gland.” The study appeared in the Journal of Andrology.
EPA endocrine disruption tests risk health to protect industry: “‘Over 10 years ago, Congress passed two laws ordering EPA to test chemicals to see whether they are endocrine disruptors, but EPA has dragged its feet and failed to test even a single chemical under this program,'” declared Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chair Barbara Boxer. “‘The time has come for EPA to test chemicals for these toxic effects and to ban or severely restrict toxins that can disrupt our hormone systems.'” According to the Dallas Morning News, the scientific critics say the EPA Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program under the Bush administration “favors the chemical industry when it comes to judging whether certain substances in the environment might cause cancer, infertility, or harm to babies in the womb.” They assert that EPA has allowed the chemical industry to dictate test parameters. Read about endocrine disrupting chemicals at Our Stolen Future website.
Oregon woman killed by pesticide fumigation: Swanson’s Pest Management of Eugene has been sued by Fred Kolbeck for his wife’s 2005 death following fumigation of their home. The Register-Guard reports that an investigation by the Oregon Department of Agriculture determined that “three times the allowable percentage of ‘esfenvalerate,’ the pyrethroid chemical that ultimately caused Florence Kolbeck’s death,” had been applied. Kolbeck himself was hospitalized for respiratory distress after he and his wife had re-entered their treated house. Responding paramedics were also affected. The employee spraying the pesticides was not licensed to treat homes, did not properly ventilate the home or instruct the Kolbecks to ventilate their house before returning.
Methyl bromide scare in upstate New York: Methyl bromide, the acutely hazardous fumigant, was in a Canadian Pacific train tanker car derailed in upstate New York on May 27. Methyl bromide is among the chemicals slated for phaseout under the Montreal Protocol because, in addition to its links to Parkinson’s Disease and respiratory illness, it depletes the stratospheric ozone layer. Methyl bromide should have been eliminated in the U.S. by early 2005, but the Bush Administration has defied the intent of the ozone treaty by allowing its continued production and stockpiling under “critical use exemptions” for agriculture. Local officials say that the tanks were mostly empty and not ruptured. The local Press-Republican has the story.
Organic has sex appeal in Seattle: “‘In 6th grade, the worst insult that you could give someone was to call them a farmer,’ says Andrew Stout, owner of Full Circle Farm. ‘Now it is one of the best pick-up lines out there. ‘” More and more passionate young people are devoting their lives to organic farming, according to Ritzy Ryciak. She reports her outing to famous Pike Place Market on the website Seattle Conscious Choice: “If you eat lettuce and live in Seattle, you may have noticed that the face of farming has changed. Farmers markets have popped up in practically every neighborhood. CSA (community supported agriculture) is the hot acronym. Local is in, pesticides are out, and somewhere along the way sustainability has gotten sexy. It’s not just the peas and carrots that are looking good.” According to Ryciak, “many young farmers possess the confidence to break out of the mold, create their own reality and do it in a way that benefits the community around them instead of depleting it. Now that’s sexy.”
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