Roundup et al. and cancer

In 2015 the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer issued a report identifying glyphosate, malathion and diazinon as probable carcinogens and tetrachlorvinphos and parathion as possible carcinogens (Roundup contains glyphosate but also inert ingredients, some of which the manufacturer is allowed to keep secret):

A Working Group of 17 experts from 11 countries met at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) on 3–10 March 2015 to review the available published scientific evidence and evaluate the carcinogenicity of five organophosphate insecticides and herbicides: diazinon, glyphosate, malathion, parathion, and tetrachlorvinphos. A summary of the evaluations has now been published in The Lancet Oncology. The detailed assessments will be published as Volume 112 of the IARC Monographs….

Download the IARC report here.

This photo of Roundup-induced skin damage from Wikimedia Commons is not necessarily related to cancer but is certainly a warning sign:

File:Blister_roundup.jpg Tael, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Just when we thought West Chester Borough was cutting down on road salt waste and pollution

West NIelds St., 600 block, Feb. 15, 2021. See glove for scale.
And not just one pile, alas!

[Update 24 hours later: kudos to whoever — Public Works, individuals, businesses — shoveled up all that salt, as it now is gone and will not drain into Plum Run after all!]

All this sodium chloride is headed for Plum Run, unless someone shovels it up for future use. And this, ironically, at a time when the Borough is expending a lot of effort to prevent Plum Run’s banks from eroding and is financing rain gardens to reduce runoff and attendant chemicals from entering streams.

The same day, the chloride level in Plum Run at the SW corner of the Borough measured 310ppm.

According to Molly Hunt et al., “Chlorides in Fresh Water“:

“In Rhode Island, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has set acceptable chloride concentration exposure limits for freshwater organisms at 860 ppm to prevent acute (immediate) exposure effects and at 230 ppm to prevent chronic (long-term) exposure effects. For drinking water, DEM has set a maximum contaminant level of 250 ppm chloride, which is the point at which water starts to taste salty.”

So 310 ppm is not good. What’s the problem? According to Jeremy Hinsdale, “How Road Salt Harms the Environment“:

“Chloride is toxic to aquatic life, and even low concentrations can produce harmful effects in freshwater ecosystems. High chloride levels in water can inhibit aquatic species’ growth and reproduction, impact food sources, and disrupt osmoregulation in amphibians. Some 40 percent of urban streams in the U.S. already have chloride levels that exceed the safe guidelines for aquatic life.”

“Runoff containing road salt can also cause oxygen depletion in bodies of water. ‘If runoff containing salt goes into a freshwater lake or stream, it will tend to sink towards the bottom, creating a dense layer that can inhibit gas exchange with the overlying water,’ says Juhl. ‘This can lead to the development of low oxygen conditions that are detrimental to fish and other aquatic organisms.’”

Do you want to measure your own local stream’s chloride content ? See Isaak Walton League: Protect streams from salt! for how to get a free kit. Here’s the measurement from Plum Run (the chloride level is shown by the peak of the yellowish area in the sensor on the right of the photo):

Isaak Walton League: Protect streams from salt!

Winter Salt Watch

winter salt watch logo

Road salt (sodium chloride) is everywhere during winter months. It keeps us safe on roads and sidewalks, but it can also pose a threat to fish and wildlife as well as human health.

Fish and bugs that live in freshwater streams can’t survive in extra salty water. And many of us (more than 118 million Americans) depend on local streams for drinking water. Water treatment plants are not equipped to filter out the extra salt, so it can end up in your tap water and even corrode your pipes.

You can take action.

Request your FREE Salt Watch test kit….

(Sign up free for a kit to test a stream here. Salt in streams harms not only fish. but also other aquatic life… and humans!)

Philadelphia bans toxic herbicides

PennPIRG news release, 12/3/20. (If Philadelphia can do it, so can Chester County!)

City passes restrictions to protect public health For Immediate Release

PHILADELPHIA —  City parks and other public spaces throughout Philadelphia will be a lot safer soon after the city council banned the use of toxic herbicides on municipal property. Various provisions of the Healthy Outdoor Public Spaces Act passed on Thursday go into effect in phases over the next three years. Beginning next July, the city council and the public must be notified of any pesticide use on city grounds. More importantly, in 18 months, the law will prohibit certain toxic chemicals on all city property except golf courses and athletic fields, which must comply no more than 36 months from now. …

read more at PennPIRG

Sustainably grown US soy beans?

According to the chemical manufacturing giant DuPont, “U.S. Soy Launches The Pilot Phase Of Sustainably Grown U.S. Soy Mark.” This sounds like a useful idea:

Whatever you make, U.S. Soy makes you more sustainable. That is why the food industry is innovating to improve sustainability in their product supply chains from farm to fork. By labeling soy ingredients with the new Sustainably Grown U.S. Soy mark, you are recognizing that those soybeans originated from a system of continuous environmental improvement.

From January 19 through March 19, the United Soybean Board (USB) is teaming up with partners from Soylent and DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences (DuPont) that will be participating in a pilot program to market their products and ingredients as being made with Sustainably Grown U.S. Soy.

The new mark denotes agricultural practices, such as no-till and cover crops, that deliver sustainable outcomes in biodiversity, soil carbon, water management, and overall soil conservation. U.S. Soy delivers the food industry a quality ingredient to help them meet their sustainability goals by prioritizing soil health and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy usage.

Customers can be assured that products carrying the mark contain soy ingredients that:

  • Were grown in the United States
  • Are compliant with all U.S. environmental regulations
  • Protect highly erodible soils and wetlands
  • Were grown on family farms with responsible labor practices

The plan bears watching and questioning:

• Sustainability is fine, but does this program permit herbicides, pesticides, and genetically engineered seeds?

• How are “family farms” defined? DuPont’s image below hardly looks like a family soy bean field:

Local sustainability activism panel Dec. 11

West Chester Green Team

Local sustainability activism panel: Fourth Annual Environmental Film and Forum Series at WCU sponsored by the Office of Sustainability at West Chester University and the West Chester Green Team, in memory of Graham Hudgings.

December 11, 7pm, via live internet: Local sustainability activism, featuring 5 local panelists on what campus and community groups can do to promote sustainability, outreach techniques, working successfully with non-profit and public entities, and Local Environmental Empowerment.

Register here to receive the link.

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DSM endorses Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

At its November meeting, the Don’t Spray Me! board voted to sign on to support the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate compact designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. RGGI not only helps reduce PA’s inordinate emissions (4th highest state in the country) but also has increased jobs in the renewable energy sector and reduced energy costs.

In June, Gov. Tom Wolf issued an executive order (download here), directing the Dept. of Environmental Protection to propose rules for bringing our state into compliance with RGGI; but interests in the PA General Assembly are trying to block this important effort.

See also “It’s not too late: RGGI can help Pa. combat climate change,” guest column by State Sen. Katie Muth and Amanda Lapham of PennEnvironment, Daily Local News, Nov 27, 2020.

Climate change is very relevant to DSM’s concerns, because air pollution, including the fossil fuel emissions that exacerbate climate change, have been shown to weaken human respiratory systems and render people (including children) more susceptible to serious complications and death from diseases like Covid-19. See more here.

If you would like to show your support as a concerned citizen, please fill out the petition at bit.ly/RGGIforPA. Here is the text of the petition.

Proposed Rulemaking: CO2 Budget Trading Program (#7-559)

To the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board:

We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, are submitting our public comment in support of Pennsylvania’s establishing a carbon dioxide budget trading program and joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), one of the nation’s most successful state-level programs for fighting climate change.

With each day that passes, climate change becomes a more urgent threat to our Commonwealth. Local impacts of the climate crisis in Pennsylvania include heat waves, worsening air quality that harms public health, more insect-borne diseases, more intense storms and flash flooding, and agricultural losses.

As the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the nation, Pennsylvania has a responsibility to reduce our emissions, and joining RGGI will put us on the right path. Over the past twelve years, this bipartisan program has had remarkable success for the participating Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

Since 2008:

  • CO2 emissions in from RGGI states have fallen by 47%, outpacing the rest of the country by 90%;
  • Reductions in other air pollutants, including SO2 and NOx, that can lead to premature deaths, heart attacks, and respiratory illnesses have resulted in an additional $5.7 billion in health and productivity benefits;
  • Electricity prices in RGGI states have fallen by 5.7%, while prices have increased in the rest of the country by 8.6%;
  • The combined economies of the RGGI states have grown by 47%, during the first ten years of the program, outpacing growth in the rest of the country by 31%.

If Pennsylvania joins the program, it could reduce its carbon emissions by 188 million tons over its first decade in the program — that’s equivalent to taking 35 million cars off the road. Moreover, joining RGGI will not only cut carbon pollution, but also reduce nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide pollution, yielding significant health benefits for Pennsylvanians. DEP projects that by joining RGGI, Pennsylvania will avoid hundreds of premature deaths and 30,000 hospital visits for respiratory illness such as asthma by 2030.

Critically, participation in RGGI will enable Pennsylvania to create jobs while reducing our greenhouse gases. DEP estimates that Pennsylvania would see a net increase of over 27,000 jobs by participating in the program.

To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must act now to transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy. RGGI is one of the best tools we have to do so and would create a solid foundation for other important policy steps, like expanding goals for renewable energy. For the sake of our climate, our environment, and our health, we urge Pennsylvania’s leaders to join RGGI without delay.

Graphic from PA DEP:

WEST CHESTER GREEN TEAM Silent Auction Nov. 25 – Dec. 5

Click HERE to view and bid on the 61 diverse and exciting items up for online auction to benefit environment and sustainability.  The West Chester Green Team, a CCEA member, is an alliance of four local environment-related citizen groups: Don’t Spray Me!Chester County Citizens for Climate Protection (4CP)Ready for 100 (i.e., 100% renewable energy), and Plastic-Free Please Action Group (PFP). Please boost our local initiatives… and enjoy holiday shopping at the same time!

Air pollution increases Covid mortality

Our respectful advice to Chester County:

Now is the time to stop the poisoning of our environment and jeopardizing the health of people and planet. Minority communities are hardest hit by poor air quality. To save lives, call a halt and go organic. Other counties, cities, in fact whole countries have done it. We are happy to provide models for Chester County on request. A first step would be to stop the spraying of any poisonous substance by the County and that includes all pesticides and herbicides. If it has -cide in the title –it kills.

Summary of research by Liam Hudgings: A significant number of studies have found a strong positive relationship between air pollution and the mortality rates due to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndromes, and more specifically Covid-19. Polluted air leads to an increased proclivity to chronic respiratory disease and inflammation, which in turn leads to a susceptibility to SARS viruses.

A Harvard study found that: “if Manhattan had lowered its average particulate matter level by just a single unit, or one microgram per cubic meter, over the past 20 years, the borough would most likely have seen 248 fewer COVID-19 deaths by this point (April 13, 2020) in the outbreak.”

Furthermore, multiple papers cited below found that even short-term exposure to air pollution had a significant effect on the coronavirus mortality rate. Thus, as the threat of a second wave and even an endemic adoption of COVID-19 into our community remain likely, it is pertinent to evaluate the actions that can be taken to avoid air pollution and other airborne irritants of the respiratory system.

One such irritant is Permethrin, an insecticide that Chester County has sprayed in a fog to kill mosquitoes. Exposure to sprayed pesticide has been proven to cause and exacerbate respiratory issues. Specifically for Permethrin, there is evidence that exposure can induce short-term breathing problems, and higher levels of toxicity have caused irregular breathing patterns in animal test subjects.

While this evidence is by no means conclusive, erring on the side of caution is always advisable, particularly in this case. The spraying of Permethrin is largely justified as a preventative measure for West Nile Virus despite the fact that very few WNV cases are reported in the area.

As the utility of Permethrin spraying is dubious at best, and spraying the pesticide itself presents the possibility of increasing the local COVID-19 mortality rate, it is in the public’s best interest to refrain from spraying.

Air Pollution and COVID-19/ SARS mortality rate, references:

Chen, Bing-Heng. “ Relationship Between Air Pollution and Daily Mortality of Sars in Beijing,” 2005. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.ede.0000276437.22928.b8.

Conticini, Edoardo, Bruno Frediani, and Dario Caro. “Can Atmospheric Pollution Be Considered a Co-Factor in Extremely High Level of SARS-CoV-2 Lethality in Northern Italy?” Environmental Pollution 261 (2020): 114465. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2020.114465.

Cui, Yan, Zuo-Feng Zhang, John Froines, Jinkou Zhao, Hua Wang, Shun-Zhang Yu, and Roger Detels. “Air Pollution and Case Fatality of SARS in the People’s Republic of China: an Ecologic Study.” Environmental Health 2, no. 1 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1186/1476-069x-2-15.

King, Amanda. “Linking Air Pollution To Higher Coronavirus Death Rates.” Department of Biostatistics, April 13, 2020. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/biostatistics/2020/04/linking-air-pollution-to-higher-coronavirus-death-rates/.