Don’t Spray Me! events


If you can’t see the calendar above, click here.
See also the Chesco Environment Calendar here.

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Study links Deltagard active ingredient deltamethrin exposure to fish embryo malformations

We already know that the common yard product Roundup has been associated with multiple cases of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Now, more and more evidence is mounting that deltamethrin, the active ingredient in Deltagard, causes negative effects when animals are exposed to it.

A recent scientific report from Turkey studied the developmental effects on Zebrafish (Danio rerio) when they are exposed to deltamethrin. Survival rate, hatching, and body malformations were determined after deltamethrin exposure.

The study results showed that DM (deltamethrin) cause body malformations, mortality and and delay hatching, survival rate decreased, and apoptosis increased.

Parlak, Department of Aquaculture, May 2018

The figures above show how survival rate decreased with the concentration of deltamethrin, and malformations increased with concentration.

Deltamethrin easily enters waterways through runoff, which is why it is important to know how Deltagard is affecting our ecosystems. This is also why Deltagard instructions say to not spray the product directly on or adjacent to a waterway. But how can we be sure that when Deltagard trucks spray our lawns and streets in the borough, the poison does not run into the storm drains and affect our wildlife? Also, if deltamethrin has such detrimental effects on zebrafish, who’s to say what unknown effects if may have on insects, birds, dogs, and even humans? As always, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Reduce your use of Deltagard on your property, and express to the county that you are concerned about the use of Deltagard throughout the borough.

  • Figures from Evaluation of apoptosis, oxidative stress responses, AChE activity and body malformations in zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos exposed to deltamethrin

Where’s the Chesco Health Dept. when people really need it?

According to Chester County Coroner Dr. Christina VandePol (download the Aug. 2 press release here),

The Chester County Coroner’s Office is releasing data on drug overdose deaths in Chester County from January 1, 2019 through June 30, 2019. A total of 65 people have been confirmed to have died of a drug overdose during this period, with 62 deaths determined to be accidental and 3 due to suicide. …

Something seems amiss in how the County organizes its services! The Health Department does not deal with this major health epidemic, but when you look at the Health Department home page you find under “Environmental Services”:

New Fees for Food and other Establishments (Effective May 1st, 2019)
Housing, Insect, and Vector Concerns
Spotted Lanternfly Information
Public Bathing Places
Emergency Action Plan for Food Establishments
Healthy Stream Recreation
Farmers’ Market Guidelines
Temporary Event Application
Food Establishments
Sewage and Water
Request Existing Sewage/Well Permit

What does the spotted lanternfly have to do with human health? Why does the Health Department spend $200,000+ a year on mosquito control when the chief mosquito-related health problem it cites, West Nile Virus, has never caused one fatal case acquired in Chester County, compared to thousands of fatal opioid overdoses?

In the Health Department’s “A-Z Health Topic List,” you can find bats and dog licenses, and even Zika Virus (which is not transmitted by insects this far north), but no link to information about an epidemic that is killing an average of 2.5 people a week in Chester County! (You’d think Drug and Alcohol Services would feature itt, but good luck finding even one reference to fentanyl there.)

Why doesn’t the County have an Environment Department, with trained experts in environment and sustainability, to deal with concerns like over-proliferation of some species and existential threats to others, climate change, excessive water runoff, stream erosion, air and water pollution, environmental degradation from trash and especially single-use plastics, renewable energy, and so much more?

Then the Health Department could focus on its job: health.

“Toxic Textiles”: chemical use in fast fashion

Green America, an environmental organization, conducted a report exploring environmental initiatives in leading clothing stores. The report looked at 14 major apparel companies to see if they were addressing issues like chemical use and waste from clothing production.

(+) means a company has a policy/goal, and metrics/plans in place; (/) means a company says it has a policy but doesn’t go into details; blank means a company does not talk about this policy. For chemicals, (•) means a company has an RSL but does not have an MRS; read full report for more details – greenamerica.org

One of the features they checked was chemical management. Directly from their report, which can be found here:

The production of textiles uses an estimated 43 million tons of chemicals every year – and this figure doesn’t even take into account the amount of pesticides used to grow natural resources, such as cotton, annually.

Chemicals are used heavily throughout the production of textiles – the process of turning raw materials into textiles uses over 8,000 different chemicals. The Swedish Chemicals Agency tested 2,400 chemicals and found that about 30% of them were toxic. While some chemicals have been banned/restricted in consuming countries, that chemical may be found in waterways of the manufacturing country, exposing not just workers to these hazardous chemicals, but also the community at large.

Industry-wide, there is a need for more transparency and data about the chemicals that are being used, as well as their effects on health and the environment throughout the life cycle of the textile/garment . . .

Until companies become more transparent about their chemical use, it’s hard to know what you’re truly paying for when you purchase clothing. Green Team’s advice to you is to purchase new clothes only when absolutely necessary – and to use the clothes you already have as long as possible.

For more information and the full report, please visit the article at greenamerica.org.

How hot can mosquito larvae survive?

Is it cruel to find out? I hope not. I profited from the ultra-hot sunny weather to bring a pail of organic-laden water with larvae happily snapping around, onto my back patio in full sun. I then ladled some water with larvae into a plate with about 3/8″ of water. You see both in the photo:

Within 25 minutes, all larvae in the plate at 115F had expired. Within an hour and a half, almost all those in the pail had kicked the bucket, at 100F surface temperature. (Larvae have to spend much of their time at the surface to breathe, though they dive if provoked.)

At the right of the photo you see the screen that after the experiment I put over the bucket, to be sure no adult mosquitoes can emerge, but I think by tomorrow any surviving larvae probably will be done for too.

This little exercise has practical value: we can conclude that in weather like this, larvae will not survive in a shallow pool on a flat roof (similar to the plate) and that even in deeper water exposed to the sun as in a roofline gutter, they have little chance.

Of course, we shouldn’t take it for granted and, bearing in mind that 100F is not normal here, we should keep flat roofs and gutters free of stagnant water!

Next afternoon update: there are in fact a few survivors, despite similar air (95) and water (100+) temps. Survival of the fittest, I guess. Those I spotted are on the small side; maybe the closer they are to pupating, the less resistant to heat?

Last observation: Air this hot deters mosquitoes on the wing. We know they like shade; maybe they shrivel up in sun over 90 degrees? Too bad that sunny and 95 are not great conditions for humans to be out in the garden either!

West Chester Green Team’s first annual organic garden tour

On Saturday, June 29th, about 100 West Chester residents toured organic gardens in the West Chester borough. Gardens that were toured showcased vegetables, flowers, rain gardens, tower gardens, and much more. The goal of the tour was to educate residents about the many different types of gardens they can have, even in a small space.

Denise and garden 2

A popular attraction of the tour was Councilwoman Denise Polk’s backyard. Although Polk only has less than one-tenth of an acre, the space boasts more than 50 different plantings, in addition to a honey bee house. Polk suggests eating veggies fresh off the vine, and keeping chemical use to a minimum or not at all. (Photo by Bill Rettew: “Checking out Councilwoman Denise Polk’s backyard organic garden”)

In total there were 10 stops along the tour, with at least one site in each ward of the borough: in backyards, at West Chester University, and at the Melton Center.

Margaret Hudgings is an active West Chester Green Team leader, and she helped to organize the event. She was excited to see that a main goal of the tour had been accomplished; “The tour shows people that you can have a fantastic garden even if you have a small yard.”

West Chester Green Team plans to run this tour again next year, with some changes and new gardens featured.

For more details and photos from the tour, please visit “West Chester Green Team shines spotlight on local organic gardens” by Bill Rettew in the Daily Local News.

Christiane's garden 2
Christiane Torres’ garden

Study finds that planting trees would be the most effective method to combat climate change

A study led by researchers at ETH Zurich found that forest restoration is our best bet for combating climate change. The study used earth system models to predict how much trees we could plant globally, and how much carbon those trees could store. It turns out that we have enough space for at least 0.9 billion hectares of more trees! If those new forests reached maturity, they would store 205 gigatonnes of carbon – that’s two thirds of the carbon generated by humans since the industrial revolution.

What’s great about this restoration approach is that there are so many benefits. Planting trees requires no new technology or industry, and we get to surround ourselves with more nature. Afforestation also creates more habitat for our furry friends. Habitat loss is one of the leading causes of species loss.

Our results highlight the opportunity of climate change mitigation through tree restoration but also the urgent need for action.

“The global tree restoration potential” Bastin et al

The study also found that more than 50% of the tree restoration potential can be found in only six countries: Russia, United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and China. This stresses the important responsibility of some of the world’s leading economies, including the US.

So where do we go from here? The report suggests that “we need better country-level forest accounting, which is critical for effective management and restoration strategies.”

This places ecosystem restoration as the most effective solution at our disposal to mitigate climate change.

“The global tree restoration potential” Bastin et al

Home Depot, Lowe’s, and more remove harmful phthalates from flooring products

Success! – Home improvement retailers follow through on commitments to remove phthalates from flooring. The environmental organization Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (SCHF) celebrates this recent win in the reduction of phthalate use in home remodeling products. In 2015, SCHF secured commitments from home remodeling stores Home Depot, Lowe’s, Lumber Liquidators, and Menards to eliminate added phthalates from flooring. But first – what are phthalates and why are we concerned about them?

Phthalates are a class of chemical compounds commonly used in home flooring, along with plastic containers, cosmetics, and other personal care products. Phthalates are so widely used that they have made their way into our bodies. Once phthalates are inside the body, they break down into metabolites and pass through. The CDC and FDA have not said outright that these chemicals are harmful to us, although many are concerned that prolonged exposure may cause adverse health effects.

This is why SCHF started a collaboration with the Ecology Center, the Environmental Health Strategy Center, and Healthy Building Network, to reduce phthalates in popular home remodeling products. Tile samples recently taken from Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Lumber Liquidators, show no measurable amounts of phthalates – that’s great!

Nowadays, you can’t escape manufactured chemicals – they surround us everywhere we go, they’re in our homes, our food and water, and ultimately in our own bodies. So let’s applaud these stores that are reducing their contribution of chemicals to the environment! Please see SCHF’s full article and visit their site to learn more about minimizing your exposure to chemicals.

DeltaGard: worrisome specifications

Even if your street isn’t sprayed, don’t think you don’t need to take precautions!

A nearby DeltaGard applicator specialist working with Bayer products and with several decades’ experience in the business, but who does not wish to be identified, tells us the spray can drift 300 feet and does not tend to dissipate into the air. Of course, exactly where it goes depends on wind direction and speed. The manufacturer’s information documents high mosquito kill rates at 300 and even 400 feet.

A 2015 EPA memo (download here: EPA deltamethrin-mosquito-adulticide takes as well-founded Bayer’s “mortality” rate as “100% for deltamethrin, even at 300 feet from the point of application.”

This is why we are calling for a buffer zone of at least 300 feet around vulnerable non-targets, such as children in schools and day care centers, registered hypersensitive individuals, bee hives, and bodies of water where fish and amphibians are sickened or killed by pesticides. If mosquitoes are exterminated at that distance, the toxins are a danger to other species as well, including humans, and we know that smaller children are more vulnerable than most adults.

The above-mentioned mortality rate, as the EPA points out, is for “easily controlled” mosquito species as opposed to “those with more widespread resistance to organophosphates and/or pyrethroids.” Naturally, the more that mosquitoes are sprayed with a given pesticide, the more they become resistant to it. Such acquired resistance is a very good reason not to spray at all unless there is a serious health emergency, which becomes more likely as our climate warms and new-to-us mosquito-borne diseases move our way.

You can download the manufacturer’s (that’s Bayer) label for this product here: DeltaGard [label – mosquitos]. Note that this is specifically for the wide-area mosquito spray; other labels yo might see may pertain to other DeltaGard products.

The various DeltaGards all have deltamethrin as their active ingredient, but concentration and added ingredients may differ. See our earlier remarks on “turf and ornamental” DeltaGard here.

This is not easy reading but let’s focus on:

to control adult mosquitoes, black flies, gnats, non-biting midges, stable flies, horse flies, deer flies, sheep flies, horn flies, and nuisance flying insects such as houseflies or blow flies.

It’s hard to love all those insects, but let’s point out that they are part of nature and are important food sources for birds, other insects, reptiles, and amphibians. And those others flying around outdoors have no health implications for people.

• For best results, apply when insects are most active and meteorological conditions are conducive to keeping the spray cloud in the air column close to the ground. An inversion of air temperatures and a light breeze is preferable. Application during the cooler hours of the night or early morning is recommended. Apply when wind speed is equal to or greater than 1 mph.

Who has an anemometer when you need one? If you do, please set it up if spraying occurs! And how do we tell if there is a temperature inversion (meaning warmer air over cooler air)? Of course, those who wish the spray to remain concentrated at ground level want an inversion; the rest of us would be happy with the normal pattern, causing the spray to dissipate more rapidly. Meteorological help needed!

ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS

This product is extremely toxic to fresh water and estuarine fish and invertebrates. Runoff from treated areas into a body of water may be hazardous to fish and aquatic invertebrates.

Do not apply over bodies of water (lakes, rivers, permanent streams, natural ponds, commercial fish ponds, swamps, marshes, or estuaries), except when necessary to target areas where adult mosquitoes are present, and weather conditions will facilitate movement of applied material away from the water in order to minimize incidental deposition into the water body. Do not contaminate water when disposing of equipment rinsate or wash waters.

When used for mosquito adulticiding;

This pesticide is highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment on blooming crops or weeds. Do not apply this product or allow drift when bees are foraging the treatment area, except when applications are made to prevent or control a threat to public and / or animal health determined by a state, tribal, or local health or vector control agency on the basis of documented evidence of disease causing agents in vector mosquitoes, or the occurrence of mosquito-borne disease in animal or human populations, or if specifically approved by the state or tribe during a natural disaster recovery effort.

Please record any application over or next to bodies of water! Let’s bear in mind the condition that “weather conditions will facilitate movement of applied material away from the water in order to minimize incidental deposition into the water body.”

Rain or thunderstorms will do the opposite: wash the pesticide, both airborne and deposited on streets and other drainage areas, downhill and directly into surface drainage. If you ever see that happen, please photo the drainage water with a time stamp. Those fresh water fish and invertebrates are important ecological factors!

Greenpeace discovers biodiversity hotspot in Philippines to be packed with plastic

A crab was trapped inside a discarded Zagu milktea cup in Verde Island Passage, the epicenter of global marine biodiversity, in Batangas City, the Philippines.

Recently, Greenpeace Philippines has documented plastic pollution in Verde Island Passage, a hotspot of marine biodiversity. This passage is extremely rich in marine life,  and it is dubbed the Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity, and the Center of the Center of the Marine Biodiversity of the World.

Greenpeace performed a 3-day underwater exploration which revealed that the area is littered with plastic bags, “some showing visible signs of being among the corals for a very long time”. A majority of the litter was plastic produced by large companies such as Nestle and Unilever. In fact, a recent report by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) found that Nestle and Unilever are responsible for a quarter of throwaway plastic driving the plastic pollution crisis in the Philippines.

If big companies don’t respond to our calls for reduction in single-use plastic production, these places of “paradise” like Verde Island Passage, will be lost – Abigail Aguilar, Greenpeace Philippines Campaigner

Don’t Spray Me! and the West Chester Green Team encourage you as a consumer to reduce your use of single-use plastics to prevent further destruction of our beautiful environment.

To learn more and see photos and videos of the waste found in Verde Island Passage, please visit Greenpeace’s article.

 

Beware pesticides when you travel

(And of course at home as well.)

Recent tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic are still under investigation and more than one cause could be at fault. But they, like the recent hefty court judgments against the maker of the herbicide Roundup, are a warning that we can’t be too careful in checking out our surroundings for toxins.

From “Crisis Hits Dominican Republic Over Deaths of U.S. Tourists” by Simon Romero and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, New York Times, 6/23/19:

“Some of the earlier cases did seem to be consistent with organophosphate poisoning,” said Dana B. Barr, a professor at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health.

Dr. Barr pointed to a case in the United States Virgin Islands in 2015, when a Delaware family of four was seriously injured after being exposed to a pesticide when the apartment below them was fumigated.

In poisoning cases, Dr. Barr said, the problem often stems from the pesticide not being properly contained. The chemicals could seep into a vent that is not adequately sealed, or be sucked inside by a hotel air conditioner///.

In the Virgin Islands case, “Jose Rivera, a Terminix International branch manager in St. Croix, knowingly used banned pesticides containing methyl bromide at several locations in the Virgin Islands, according to the Justice Department.” He was sentenced earlier this year to 12 months in prison and Terminix paid the family, which was sickened with various degrees of paralysis by the pesticide, $90,000,000 in damages–small comfort for the permanent horror they underwent.

According to the AP article later in 2015, the year of the poisoning, “Pesticide that poisoned Delaware family still in use” by Danico Coto in Delaware Online:

The EPA’s regional administrator, Judith Enck, said she and Puerto Rico’s Agriculture Department have found at least several other examples of prohibited chemicals being used at hotels. She recommends anyone staying at a hotel in Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands ask if their room has been treated with pesticides and open windows to ventilate it when they arrive just to be safe.

“When you’re on vacation, the last thing you’re thinking about is if your hotel room or Airbnb (rental) is soaked in pesticide,” Enck said. “You’re at their mercy….”

Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, even in Chester County–where can people feel safe unless there is a whole new consciousness of the dangers of spreading toxins around where we live and breathe? And what individual, company or government agency would want to be using these substances when the stakes are as high as death or paralysis… and $90,000,000?