Monsanto And The EPA

from PennPIRG

So far, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and many other decision-makers have largely been taking Monsanto at its word when it claims its product is safe. But Monsanto has not been transparent about the potential health effects of Roundup. In 2017, Monsanto was caught ghost-writing studies for “independent scientists” to show that glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, is safe, and in late 2017, newly unsealed court documents showed Monsanto has had an influence on U.S. regulators in the EPA for years, while suppressing scientific information about the potential dangers of its widely used pesticide, Roundup.

Even without these deceptive actions, there is enough evidence to indicate that we shouldn’t be needlessly exposing ourselves to something that has the potential to cause such serious harm. But that is exactly what we are doing, and in a big way. …

read more at PennPIRG

Advertisements

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.

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!

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!

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?

From Graham Hudgings (1970-2017) to Borough Council, 2013

Graham Hudgings, the founder and inspiration for our work, wrote to West Chester Borough Council on August 20, 2013, to ask them to protect residents against truck-disseminated insecticides. It is preceded by a note to then Mayor (now State Representative) Carolyn Comitta, who has always been very supportive of our efforts.

Hi Carolyn. I am writing to see if you would be willing to read the email below at the borough council meeting under agenda item #4, “Comments, suggestions, petitions etc… from residents in attendance regarding items not on the agenda.” I am not able to attend tonight due to a prior commitment. If so, I will print out copies of the ordinance mentioned in the email and drop them off to you to distribute at the meeting. Thank you. –Graham

Dear Borough Council, 

My name is Graham Hudgings and I live in the borough of West Chester on West Union Street.  I am on the PA state pesticide hypersensitivty registry.   Last year my neighborhood was fogged with the pesticide Permanone by the Chester County Health Department.  Prior to the spraying, I was in contact with the Chester County Health Department to see if my house or block could be exempted, as is a common practice in other communities.  I was told no. 

Since the application I have been experiencing a variety of health symptoms, which disappear when I leave the treated area and return upon my returning to the treated area.  I contacted the NPIC (National Pesticide Information Center) and they indicated that the reaction is most likely attributable to piperonyl butoxide, a catalyst chemical ingredient in Permanone which has been shown to linger for years after application. It is noteworthy that there have been no safety studies conducted on pesticides with catalyst agents and that their use has been banned in many communities, including New York.

I did some research on mosquito spraying and the chemicals used and found that Washington DC, Nashville TN, Ft. Worth TX, Boulder Colorado, Chapel Hill NC and hundreds of other communities around the country have either banned spraying for mosquitoes or never practiced it in the first place since it has been shown to be ineffective at controlling either the mosquito population or the West Nile Virus, has numerous environmental consequences, and is costly.

I have urged the Chester County Health department to halt the practice until a thorough study of the implications for the health of our community can be conducted, to no avail.   And so, I am writing to you to see what can be done about the matter.  I have provided a copy of an ordinance from the town of Lyndhurst, Ohio, outlining their rationale for banning spraying.   It does a very good job of explaining the issues. 

Individuals concerned about mosquitoes can take action to reduce their exposure by applying insect repellent, wearing long sleeves, and eliminating standing water on their properties.  No amount of spraying will eliminate mosquitoes.   

The indiscriminate spraying of chemicals on entire neighborhoods against the wishes of many residents, a practice which studies have shown is not helpful at reducing either the mosquito population or controlling the spread of the virus, is dangerous and unwarranted.  

The use of larvacides in mosquito breeding areas and community education have been shown to be safe and effective methods of controlling mosquito populations.

Thank you to Mayor Comitta for delivering this message and to the Council for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely, Graham Hudgings 

June 29 Organic Vegetable Garden Tour in West Chester Borough

West Chester borough is full of beautiful and vivacious gardens you may not even know about! Come along June 29th for a tour of the organic gardens of West Chester, sponsored by the West Chester Green Team and West Chester University’s Office of Sustainability. A food garden from every ward of the borough will be featured, including West Chester University’s vegetable gardens, plus a rain garden installed by the Borough.

A sample of one of the gardens you will get to visit on the tour, growing here (all organically!): Asparagus, lettuce, kale, beans, and much more.

You will have the opportunity to meet greeters with information about each garden, and ask any questions you may have. If you’re looking for inspiration or help with your own gardens, this is the tour to go on!

The event is taking place June 29th, 11am-3pm. The tour route is posted below so that you can walk, bike, or drive to the gardens at your own pace. Or, hop in our van at noon at WC Friends Meeting, 425 N. High St.! The event is 100% FREE.

Courtney Bodle, an organizer of the event, says “this is a casual event… a day full of fun and light gardening education. A day to meet like-minded people, talk about green ideas, and work towards a sustainable future…. “!

wcgart1

See you there!

Successful Green Team Strawberry Festival in West Chester

About 130 people joined in the The West Chester Green Team Strawberry Festival on Sunday afternoon, May 19, in West Chester’s Everhart Park.

The various activities structured around the principles of the Green Team: environment, sustainability, green living.

Strawberry shortcake with ice cream by the West Chester Co-operative was a highlight.

Co-sponsors were West Chester Green Team and its member groups: Chester County Citizens for Climate Protection (4CP), Don’t Spray Me!, Green Team Youth Corps, Plastic-Free Please, Ready for 100, plus Sierra Club and West Chester Co-operative. See also the article by reporter Bill Rettew, “Organizations band together in West Chester to protect environment, in the Daily Local News

More info about the Green Team here.

Photos below by Plastic-Free Please co-coordinator Rachel Davis:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organizations band together in West Chester to protect environment

By Bill Rettew Daily Local News, May 21, 2019

WEST CHESTER—Like a budding plant, the West Chester Green Team celebrated its inauguration, at Sunday’s event in Everhart Park.

Kara Thorpe, left, and Margaret Westbrook give away stuff in Everhart Park, at Sunday’s Green Team event.

About a dozen like-minded organizations joined together to promote protecting the environment, beneath sunny spring skies and temperatures in the 80s, at the Green Team’s Strawberry Shortcake Social.

Several grassroots organizations have banded together including Don’t Spray Me!, Plastic-Free Please Action Group, Chester County Citizens for Climate Protection and Ready for 100.

Nathaniel Smith is a member of the newly minted Green Team.

“If a few people in their living rooms get together and issue edicts, it doesn’t turn out well,” Smith said. “The public has to stand behind the sustainability movement….

read more at Daily Local News

“Climate Action and Today’s Youth”

This very interesting forum at West Chester University was organized and moderated by West Chester Green Team summer interns (and West Chester University students) Kara Thorpe and Paige Vermeulen. Panelists were Isaac Harte (Delaware Valley Friends School), Will Bradley (Westtown School), and Sam Silverman (also a WCU student, and coordinator of the WCU Sunrise Hub).

The audience of about 20 first viewed the 11-minute video of a 2018 TED talk by Greta Thunberg, the Swedish student then age 15 who started the worldwide school strike for climate movement. Her intensity and clearheadedness were most impressive. “The climate crisis has already been solved,” she said: we know the facts, but don’t act on them. “The one thing we need more than hope is action.”

The moderators asked a series of questions for the panel, then turned to the audience for discussion.

Why do Americans just carry on as before? In a word, money: many politicians receive financial incentive to deny climate change. Also: many Americans do not yet feel much impact, have more existential issues in their lives, and are often confused by lies. From the audience: we are trapped by convenience, also by discouragement that the problem is too vast to deal with.

What are the barriers between leaders and action? From the panel: it should not be a political question; some politicians are talking about it but many are scared to speak. The “sponsors” rule as usual. From the audience: the youth strike did empower the young; the young have a credibility that seems more reliable than past alarms. The 2018 IPCC report sounded a real and urgent alarm. The non-binding Green New Deal sets out holistic working goals for 100% green energy by 2050 along with the jobs, sustainable industry, and economic equity that can support it.

Is the Green New Deal too ambitious? From the panel: parts of it, maybe; but this is an existential crisis and we do need to do everything at once. From the audience: the GND should include stopping pesticide use, which threatens the environment and our food supply.

Should dealing with the wage gap really be part of the GND? The panel thought yes: wage justice is part of building a better America.

More comments: there is also a water crisis. Lack of education is also a crisis. Earth Uprising, of pre-college students, launches June 14. The Green Schools Alliance encourages schools to commit to 100%. We need to make clear how people can support our efforts. Greta Thunberg effectively dismisses non-science and uses guilt as a motivator. Harrisburg is “black with coal, oil and gas.” The Green New Deal, given the broad crisis, is “ridiculously moderate.”

Displays in the lobby attracted discussion afterwards. Our community needs more events like this, stressing the role of the young in their own future!