Avoid chemicals in your lawn and garden


Paid part-time Summer Internship with Don’t Spray Me! / West Chester Green Team

Are you interested in environmental issues? Would you like to learn how citizens can make a change and support grassroots environmental topics with big impact? Would you like hands-on experience as a summer intern to support environmental initiatives? We are looking for a motivated, self-organized individual to support a team of volunteers of Don’t Spray Me! and the West Chester Green Team to make a change for citizens today and generations to come!

$11 an hour, part-time, hours and weeks negotiable.

Academic credit if intern can arrange it with an appropriate institution and faculty supervisor.

Must receive state certification to work with children.

Needs background in environment and/or appropriate sciences.

Must work well under supervision but also have initiative and the ability to interact successfully with both adults and youths under age 18.

Examples of specific duties, often in conjunction with adults and/or children:

• Help lead inspection of storm drains to determine if water is draining properly, measure water temperature, flag or remove blockage of the street level grate.

• Conduct experiments to determine effectiveness of larvicide, length of local mosquito life cycle from eggs to adult, the height at which they will breed, whether they are breeding in storm drains, etc.

• Help with education and communication to reduce single-use plastic waste in the Borough and keep it out of streets and streams

• Possible further projects involving plastics, energy reduction, or climate change, depending on time available and sponsor planning.

Contact: Nathaniel Smith, nathanielbsmith@earthlink.net

You have the right to know if you’re drinking Roundup

Email from PennPIRG, 2/25/19. Sign petition to USDA here.

We shouldn’t have to worry about probable carcinogens in the food and drink that we buy.

But we detected glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s pesticide Roundup, in beer and wine. A new report by our sister organization, PennPIRG Education Fund, reveals that 19 out of 20 tested samples — including some organic beer and wine — contained detectable levels of this dangerous chemical.1

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not currently test food and drink for the presence of glyphosate. This is just irresponsible. Tell the USDA to test for glyphosate.

Roundup is dangerously overused. Enough glyphosate is used every year to spray nearly half a pound of this dangerous chemical on every single acre of cultivated land in the world.2

That makes exposure hard to avoid.

Scientists at the World Health Organization have linked glyphosate to cancer.3 It doesn’t belong in the things we eat and drink. But PennPIRG Education Fund detected levels of glyphosate in wine of up to 51 parts per billion.4

While these numbers are below the EPA’s risk tolerances for beverages, at least one previous scientific study found that as little as one part per trillion of glyphosate can stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells and disrupt the endocrine system.5 One part per trillion is an extremely small amount — equivalent to about one drop of glyphosate in a 43-foot-deep pool covering the area of a football field.6

In light of its probable health risks, the use of Roundup should be banned unless and until it is proven safe. But meanwhile, we can at least test for this dangerous chemical in the products that we eat and drink. Add your name today.

The fact that glyphosate was found in certified organic products shows that even best practices to avoid pesticide exposure on crops may not be enough to keep glyphosate out of our food. Because Roundup is used so ubiquitously, traces of glyphosate have been detected everywhere from breakfast cereal to ice cream.7,8

We simply shouldn’t have to worry that the things we eat and drink are exposing us to probable carcinogens. The USDA already tests for other kinds of pesticides in produce. Tell the USDA: Test for glyphosate on food and drink to protect consumers.

Thank you,

Adam Garber

1. Kara Cook, “Glyphosate Pesticide in Beer and Wine,” U.S. PIRG Education Fund, February 2019.
2. Charles Benbrook, “Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally,” Environmental Sciences Europe, February 2, 2016.
3. “IARC Monograph on Glyphosate,” International Agency for Research on Cancer / World Health Organization, January 3, 2016.
4. Kara Cook, “Glyphosate Pesticide in Beer and Wine,” U.S. PIRG Education Fund, February 2019.
5. S. Thongpraikasong et al., “Glyphosate induces human breast cancer cells growth via estrogen receptors,” Food and Chemical Toxicology, September 2013.
6. Harriett S. Stubbs, “Parts per Million, Billion, Trillion,” Science Activities, July 30, 2010.
7. “Weed-killing chemical linked to cancer found in some children’s breakfast foods,” CBS News, August 15, 2018.
8. Stephanie Strom, “Traces of Controversial Herbicide Are Found in Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream,” The New York Times, July 25, 2017.

Composting in your Backyard

Monday, February 25⋅7:00 – 8:30pm
312 W Union St, West Chester, PA 19382
Free, all welcome.

“Composting in your Backyard.” Talk by Prof. Denise Polk, West Chester University, a Borough resident and member of Borough Council who has a huge garden and keeps bees. She is also an expert in composting and has been involved with organizing composting along with the Borough on the campus of WC University.

At the Ironworks Church, 312 W Union St, West Chester, PA 19382, USA = SW corner of W. Union and S. New Streets, West Chester.

The sponsors are South West Association of Neighbors (SWAN), Don’t Spray Me! and the West Chester Area Green Team.

Why is this important? Composting enriches our garden soil and keeps nutrient-rich organic materials on our own property rather than, in the worst-case scenario, in the landfill.

More info: mhudgings@gmail.com.

Find out how to produce compost faster than by the “Pile it and leave it” method:

Bill to ban a toxic pesticide needs your support

H. R. 230 has been proposed for the US Congress to ban all use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos. Basically:

10 chlorpyrifos shall be deemed to generally
11 cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environ-
12 ment due in part to dietary risks to humans posed
13 by residues of that pesticide chemical on food;
14 the Administrator of the Environmental
15 Protection Agency shall cancel the registration of all
16 uses of chlorpyrifos…

Download the bill and see the latest info here.

Contact Chester County rep Chrissy Houlahan to ask her to support the bill here.

Although the EPA banned most residential uses of organophosphates like chlorpyrifos in 2001, it has so far been turned back in banning chlorpyrifos in agriculture and mosquito control.

Although Chester County has not been spraying chloripyrifos to try to kill adult mosquitoes, nothing currently prevents it from doing so.

More background here. Also search chlorpyrifos on our site for posts like here.

New Study: Multiple dangerous pesticides found in food made and sold by Kroger, Walmart, Costco and Albertsons

Friends of the Earth, February 5, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Testing released today found store and name brand foods produced and sold by the top four U.S. food retailers, Kroger (NYSE:KR), Walmart (NYSE: WMT), Costco (NYSE:COST) and Albertsons — purchased in 15 cities across the country contain residues of toxic pesticides linked to a range of serious health and environmental problems.

The report found that oat cereals, apples, applesauce, spinach and pinto beans at the retailers contained detectable amounts of glyphosate, organophosphates and neonicotinoids. The average level of glyphosate found in cereal samples (360 parts per billion) was more than twice the level set by scientists at Environmental Working Group for lifetime cancer risk for children. The average level of glyphosate found in pinto beans (509 ppb) was more than 4.5 times the benchmark.*

“Toxic pesticides are showing up in what should be some of the healthiest and most affordable foods supermarkets sell,” said Kendra Klein, PhD, senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth. “Children, farmworkers and rural communities are routinely exposed to multiple pesticides linked to cancer, learning disabilities and hormone disruption. This is unacceptable. We’re calling on food retailers to get toxic pesticides out of their supply chains and off store shelves and help make organic food available to all Americans.”

Findings of the food testing commissioned by Friends of the Earth are significant because of the ubiquity of toxic pesticides found in many different types of non-organic foods children eat on a daily basis. Findings include:

Glyphosate, a probable human carcinogen according to the World Health Organization’s cancer research agency, was found on 100% of oat cereal samples and 100% of pinto bean samples tested.

Organophosphates, which are so toxic to children’s developing brains that scientists have called for a complete ban, were found in 100% of applesauce samples, 61% of whole apples and 25% of spinach samples, at levels ranging from 0 to 3.31 nmol/g.

Neonicotinoids, which the European Union has banned due to robust science linking the chemicals to bee die-offs and which have been linked to endocrine disruption and autism spectrum disorder, were found in 80% of spinach and 73% of applesauce samples ranging from 0 to 0.14 nmol/g….

read more at Friends of the Earth

Don’t Spray Me! 2018 Annual Report

Don’t Spray Me! worked hard in 2018, with many events to increase awareness of non-toxic mosquito control methods and overuse of harmful chemicals, plus a very successful fundraiser auction (thanks to all who joined us there on December 1!). We also have a lot of changes to share with you for 2019. Please see our 2018 report below; or you can download this pdf: Annual Report 2018 DSM final.

A few highlights:

• In 2018, we held 9 public events either alone or collaboratively and conducted a successful summer Youth Corps program with the help of a WCU graduate student intern.

• In 2019, we plan to move from the Block Captain system of distributing info to a new system with 5 leaders in each of the Borough’s 7 wards, in conjunction with the newly formed West Chester Green Team. Please volunteer to help in this important new venture! We will need about 35 Borough residents in all.

• We will also keep reaching out to other municipalities, including Downingtown, which like some parts of West Chester was sprayed last. year and has low-lying flat areas, some of which are subject to flooding.

• We look forward in 2019 to West Chester Borough taking over its own larviciding to cut down on mosquito breeding. We are grateful to the Borough officials who have made that possible.

• Besides continuing as a Conservation Committee within Sierra Club’s Southeastern PA Group, Don’t Spray Me! is now part of two broader groups,

1. West Chester Green Team; for more see here

2. Chester County Environment Alliance; for more see CCEA’s web site and public Facebook page.

Don’t Spray Me! 2018 Annual Report

2018 was a year of transitions. Don’t Spray Me! was founded in 2015 in a wave of dissatisfaction with a plan to spray anti-mosquito insecticide in the NE section of the Borough. 2016 and 2017 were years of building a network of Block Captains, distributing a letter from the Mayor and an educational doorhanger from the Borough, and collaborating with the Borough Sustainability Coordinator and County Director of Department of Health through the West Nile Task Force originally set up by then-Mayor Carolyn Comitta in 2012. In 2017 DSM became a Sustainability Committee within Sierra Club’s Southeastern PA Group.

What has changed? The West Nile Task Force met only once in 2018, the Sustainability Coordinator position has been vacant since August, and the Department of Health has ceased sharing information publicly about its own activities, so that we have resorted to PA Right To Know procedures to find material that is in the public domain. Also, partly as a result of an unacceptably worded doorhanger and delayed printing of its replacement, Block Captains began to lose their commitment; some said they did not realize this would be such a long-term effort. As a result, we plan to go to a new system in 2019, with several leaders in each of the Borough’s 7 wards taking responsibility for distribution of materials and information.

We had expected that in 2018, the Borough and County would be working together to identify and larvicide sites where standing water allowed mosquitoes to breed in quantity. As it turned out, the County conducted only 3 larvicide events in the entire Borough all summer, and did not treat the mosquito hot spots at all during the high mosquito season. It was an increasingly bad mosquito season through July and August, although once again we know of no incidents of mosquito-borne illness in the Borough. In the fall, Borough government agreed to take over larviciding in the Borough from the County, and we look forward to much greater responsiveness to residents’ needs in 2019.

We successfully worked with West Chester Borough Council to fend off planned truck-based spraying on August 16 but unfortunately on Sept. 11 the County sprayed half of the planned area in the Borough before abandoning the effort in rainy weather. Mosquitoes seemed little affected, though a few other dead insects were observed. Our science team also took readings of pesticide levels deposited in various settings but unfortunately it has proved difficult to get the results measured in a lab due to labs’ wariness about the chemicals involved.

In 2018, our Executive Board met 10 times to provide overall guidance to our effort. Although the Board has had members from other municipalities, those became involved in parallel environmental efforts and the Board evolved to represent only West Chester Borough. East Bradford municipality has continued distributing natural mosquito control information to its residents and West Goshen and East Goshen have been moving toward their own environmental advisory committees, with which we hope to work. In other urban areas, efforts to inspire groups related to Don’t Spray Me! have not yet succeeded; although some residents of Phoenixville and Downingtown were sprayed in 2018 and 2017 respectively, our progress there has not advanced beyond initial discussions, nor in Kennett Square. Our web site and Facebook page continue to serve as a resource for all interested.

As part of our publicity campaign, we have a very recognizable “gas mask baby” yard sign and logo dating to 2016 as well as the 2017 “happy baby” model. In 2018, we introduced the in-between statement of the baby holding his gas mask. People choose one to suit their views. Results and visibility are good.

Events that we organized and/or co-sponsored with other environmental groups included:

• “Saving the Environment: Pennsylvania to Paris,” a discussion with 3 highly qualified speakers on Feb. 25, with about 90 in attendance.

• An Earth Day rally, March for the Environment, and displays on April 22, with over 150 attendees.

• A talk to about 30 people by our entomological advisor Dr. John Jackson on “Bugs and Weeds Away–the Natural Way” on May 29.

• A display at CommUNITY day at the Melton Center on August 19.

• A (small) demonstration at the County Court House on August 31.

• The Fall Environmental Film Series at West Chester University, with attendance averaging around 75 for four films.

• A sizable Chester County March for Climate Justice and Environment as part of a national movement on Sept. 10.

• A public meeting about mosquito spraying in West Chester with about 30 people on Sept. 25.

• A very successful fundraiser dinner and auction on Dec. 1 with about 75 attendees.

• A particular success was the Sierra Club Youth Corps / Adopt a Drain Field program, directed by Rachel Davis with WCU graduate student and DSM intern Kyle Erisman, whose stipend was covered by a Sierra Club Grassroots Network grant, for which we are grateful, as well as for support for some of our other efforts. On a number of Sunday afternoons spread through the summer, several youths and others assessed the condition of Borough storm drains and removed plastic and organic matter that could have blocked runoff from going through the the grates at street level. Meanwhile, Kyle mapped the drains using GIS technology and shared the results with the Borough’s Public Works department; those data will be invaluable in future years for spotting drain issues and conducting larviciding.

Growing out of the collaborative Earth Day event, Don’t Spray Me! and other groups founded a new Chester County Environment Alliance, a framework for different organizations to collaborate on planning and programming and to amplify others’ activities. The Alliance met on May 19 and two other times in 2018 and intensified its cooperation on large public activities.

In addition, in the fall we were instrumental in founding a West Chester Area Green Team, which now groups efforts in renewable energy and climate protection, elimination of unnecessary plastic usage, and avoidance of toxic pesticides and herbicides. Don’t Spray Me! will work within that new entity while remaining within the Sierra Club, except that our Youth Corps will now become part of the Green Team.

In sum, DSM achieved good visibility and carried out a number of events and the Youth Corps program. Although distribution of materials and prevention of spraying in the Borough and elsewhere did not go as well as planned, we laid the framework for a whole new relation with the Borough, for municipally-controlled larviciding to avoid pressure to spray, and for collaboration with other environmental groups in the County.