Grist is proud to present the Change Gang — profiles of people who are leading change on the ground toward a more sustainable society and a greener planet.
This article portrays a pesticide awareness activist and her children and how they have suffered due to pesticide exposure.
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Original Article can be found here
By Alyssa Owens. Amidst all the gloom and doom of over 80,000 untested or poorly tested chemicals (including synthetic pesticides), legally being manufactured and sold to uninformed, unsuspecting American consumers (!), a huge ray of sunshine... Now, after 35 years of criticism for lax oversight, the EPA is adopting a new technology that promises to put some teeth into the 1976 law. In March the agency introduced a $4 million, six-ton screening robot called Tox21 that is on track to test 10,000 chemicals over the next two years for just a few hundred dollars each, says EPA biologist Bob Kavlock. To pick out potentially harmful substances, the robot first loads samples of 1,400 chemicals at 15 different concentrations onto a set of plates. Then it plunks the plates into a device that adds cells modified to glow if a chemical interacts with them. After a 24-hour incubation, the robot identifies which combinations are aglow so that researchers can perform further testing.
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After a long fight, the end is near for one of the nastiest pesticides still on the market: dichlorvos. This chemical was developed from nerve warfare agents after World War II, and has been used in the United States to kill insects in homes, restaurants, theaters, and farm buildings since 1948. If that sounds like a bad idea, it is. Dichlorvos interferes with the human nervous system and can cause severe problems, ranging from vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, and muscle twitching to seizures, loss of consciousness, and death.
The EPA, whose job it is to ensure pesticide safety, has expressed serious concerns about dichlorvos for decades, but never took the steps necessary to protect the public. NRDC petitioned EPA to ban the chemical in 2006, but EPA denied our request. To justify keeping dichlorvos on the market, EPA relied on a human experiment, paid for by the chemical’s manufacturer, in which six white male volunteers were paid to ingest the pesticide for three weeks to see what happened.
There was one big problem with this (apart from the deplorable nature of paying human guinea pigs to drink a neurotoxic pesticide): the study was conducted on adult males only, and therefore couldn’t provide any information on how harmful this pesticide is for infants and children. Children are not just “little adults” – their brains and bodies are still developing, and children can be permanently damaged by exposure to pesticides at levels that wouldn’t harm adults. As a result, Congress directed EPA to include a “safety factor” of ten when determining the safe level of children’s exposure to a pesticide, unless other information proves that the pesticide is safe. In other words, EPA must assume that children are ten times more sensitive to pesticide exposure than adults.
In approving dichlorvos, EPA not only relied on this unethical human study, it refused to apply the children’s safety factor Congress required. So we sued. And last Friday, we won. In a 34-page decision, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York held that EPA unlawfully abandoned the children’s safety factor and explicitly rejected EPA’s use of the industry human study. The court sent the matter back to the agency to explain how such a study could prove safety for children. This is a huge win for children’s health.
What’s next? We think EPA needs to quickly take dichlorvos off store shelves. Decades of research – and EPA’s own findings – show that this chemical is unsafe, especially for kids. And there are lots of new and safer pesticides that have come on the market since this dinosaur was first approved back in the 1940s. After a long and sordid history, one of the worst pesticides still around finally looks to be on the way out. Good Riddance.
BUENOS AIRES, September 22 (RIA Novosti)
Three children died and 88 were rushed to hospital after being accidentally poisoned with pesticides at a school canteen in the northern Peru region of Cajamarca, the RPP radio station said on Thursday.
According to preliminary information, the school lunch was cooked in a container which has not been properly washed and contained pesticide residue.
"Schoolchildren aged from six to 12 were accidentally poisoned in the village of Arredondo. They were hospitalized with stomach aches, vomiting, diarrhea and severe dehydration," the country's social development minister Aida Garcia Naranjo said.
"The products were of due quality, but the cook used a badly washed cooking pot, where pesticide residue was later discovered," she said.
Health officials fear there could be more deaths, as some of the children are in critical condition.
With increasing bedbug populations, come increased use of pesticides designed to kill them. This in turn has lead to increased exposure of these deadly chemicals to the human population. Over a hundred people have been sickened and at least one death has been attributed to this. Read the full article at ottawa citizen.
SCARBOROUGH, Maine — The town's fields, playgrounds and other public properties will be synthetic pesticide-free under a policy adopted Wednesday by the Town Council.
Several of the attendees at the forum spoke out against the use of cosmetic pesticides in public areas, and even went so far as to blame the lack of a total ban on the heavy lobbying by the agriculture industry. Read the full article at cbc.ca.