One in four Americans suffer when exposed to common chemicals

ScienceDaily, March 14, 2018

University of Melbourne research reveals that one in four Americans report chemical sensitivity, with nearly half this group medically diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), suffering health problems from exposure to common chemical products and pollutants such as insect spray, paint, cleaning supplies, fragrances and petrochemical fumes.

The research was conducted by Anne Steinemann, Professor of Civil Engineering and Chair of Sustainable Cities from the University of Melbourne School of Engineering, and published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Professor Steinemann is an international expert on environmental pollutants, air quality, and health effects.

Professor Steinemann found the prevalence of chemical sensitivity has increased more than 200 per cent and diagnosed MCS has increased more than 300 per cent among American adults in the past decade. Across America, an estimated 55 million adults have chemical sensitivity or MCS.

“MCS is a serious and potentially disabling disease that is widespread and increasing in the US population,” Professor Steinemann said.

The study used an online survey with a national random sample of 1,137 people, representative of age, gender and region, from a large web-based panel held by Survey Sampling International (SSI).

The study found that, when exposed to problematic sources, people with MCS experience a range of adverse health effects, from migraines and dizziness to breathing difficulties and heart problems. For 76 per cent of people, the severity of effects can be disabling.

“People with MCS are like human canaries. They react earlier and more severely to chemical pollutants, even at low levels,” Professor Steinemann said.

The study also found that 71 per cent of people with MCS are asthmatic, and 86.2 per cent with MCS report health problems from fragranced consumer products, such as air fresheners, scented laundry products, cleaning supplies, fragranced candles, perfume and personal care products.

In addition, an estimated 22 million Americans with MCS have lost work days or a job in the past year due to illness from exposure to fragranced consumer products in the workplace.

To reduce health risks and costs, Professor Steinemann recommends choosing products without any fragrance, and implementing fragrance-free policies in workplaces, health care facilities, schools and other indoor environments.

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DeltaGard, deltamethrin

In the past, Chester County has sprayed pyrethrin in an effort to attack mosquitoes. No chemical pesticide is selective; a poison that kills adult mosquitoes will inevitably affect other forms of life. (Biological agents such as larvicides are much more selective.)

Now the County seems to have gone over to another member of the pyrethroid chemical group, DeltaGard, whose active ingredient is deltamethrin.

The information below is mainly about the DeltaGard variant for use in gardens and landscaping, which has the same active ingredient as the DeltaGard insecticide used against mosquitoes. For more on the mosquito spray, see here.

What’s deltamethrin? Of course, the industry doesn’t think it’s dangerous. Some other sources beg to differ. A relatively recent post in Chemicals.News (no friend to the chemical industry) says:

“Deltamethrin — toxicity, side effects, diseases and environmental impacts”

12/05/2017 / By Rita Winters

Deltamethrin is a pyrethroid insecticide that is registered for use in commercial, agricultural, and residential areas. It plays a role in controlling malaria and targets other insects like cockroaches, spiders, ants, fleas, silverfish, bed bugs, bird mites, house flies, and beetles. Deltamethrin products are one of the most popular and widely used pesticides in the world and are very popular with government pest control operations in the country. It is highly toxic to the environment, especially to aquatic life forms like fish and crustaceans. Deltamethrin is also known to be toxic to humans. As a neurotoxin, it attacks the nervous system and causes a variety of negative side effects and fatality. In 2011, a Japanese woman ingested large doses of pesticides that contained deltamethrin, which resulted in motor neuron death.

This chemical compound acts by blocking the closure of the ion gates of sodium channels during repolarization. It then disrupts the transmission of nerve-related impulses causing depolarization of the nerve cell membranes. It is very effective on insects, especially those considered as pests. However, it also affects beneficial insects including honey bees….

read more at Chemicals.News

According to the National Pesticide Information Center: “While children may be especially sensitive to pesticides compared to adults, it is currently unknown whether children have increased sensitivity specifically to deltamethrin….” (Parents will not wish to experiment to find out.)

Also: “When deltamethrin gets in the soil, it has a tendency to bind tightly to soil particles. It has a half-life ranging from 5.7- 209 days. Half-life is the measure of time it takes for half of the applied amount to break down…. Deltamethrin has a half-life of 5.9-17 days on plant surfaces. It is unlikely to be taken up by plants, since it binds to soil particles so tightly….” (So that could be reassuring if you are out for a walk in the street, but not so much if you’d like to consume your own organic produce or turn over your garden knowing that may have pesticide residue in it for up to 7 months.)

“NPIC provides objective, science-based information about pesticides and pesticide-related topics to enable people to make informed decisions. NPIC is a cooperative agreement between Oregon State University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.” Download the pdf of its deltamethrin report here: Deltamethrin General Fact Sheet

See some other sources at these sites:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/28551743/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22079160/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4502505/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1257607/#!po=76.0417
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/29444244/

Deltamethrin molecule
The manufacturer’s label (download here: deltagard-5sc-label ornamental) contains an immense list of insects as well as spiders that DeltaGard kills when used on lawns and landscaping. The list includes ants, caterpillars, crickets and grasshoppers, among others that most of us might not see as pests but as important members of the environment; and many of the target species are important food sources for birds, amphibians, and reptiles.

And that is just for the supposed pests. Of course they don’t list the other species than can be killed, such as adult butterflies and dragonflies.

And the label says, not reassuringly for those of us with home gardens:

“DO NOT apply this product to edible crops.”

If you want further non-reassurance, download the manufacturer’s Safety Data Sheet relevant to mosquito spraying here: DeltaGard_Insecticide, including statements such as:

“This product contains material which are Trade Secret and may have Occupational Exposure Limits.”

“Do not allow to get into surface water, drains and ground water.”

Voter Bayer… for Corporate Hall of Shame

Corporate Accountability International is asking people to vote for the “Corporate Hall of Shame.”

Our first choice: pesticide industry giant Bayer, about to merge with agrochemical giant Monsanto.

Bayer is a top manufacturer of neonicotinoid pesticides, which are a key factor in beekeepers losing nearly 50% of their hives this year.

Bayer also happens to manufacture both Permanone and DeltaGard, the 2 anti-mosquito pesticides sprayed recently by the Chester County Department of Health.

You can vote for 3 “candidates” here. There are plenty of other worthy choices for the honor as well.

Stop the attack on industrial safety rules that protect millions of Americans from chemical disasters

email from BlueGreen Alliance. We need to remember that all these chemicals floating around through our air, and pipelines are manufactured somewhere, including in Chester County, and the risks to the public and first responders must be minimized.

The EPA finalized a new Chemical Disaster Rule in January 2017, four years after an industrial explosion in West, Texas, killed 13 firefighters and two residents and leveled much of the town. The rule included new requirements for companies to prevent chemical releases, fires, and explosions, and required that companies work with first responders to improve emergency preparedness and coordination. Millions of Americans live close enough to an industrial facility to be affected by a chemical disaster.

The EPA put the new rule on hold last year, and now the agency is proposing to gut the rule, eliminating basic provisions that would protect workers and the communities around these facilities.

Tell the EPA to stop playing with fire. We need a strong Chemical Disaster Rule that will better protect millions of American workers and communities.

Roughly 177 million Americans live close enough to an industrial facility to be affected by a chemical accident, and that risk falls disproportionately on low-income and minority communities. One-in-three schoolchildren attend a school in the vulnerability zone for an industrial chemical accident, meaning they are potentially in the path of a lethal industrial chemical release. Workers are at greatest risk of injury or death, alongside first responders, who often have to put their lives on the line responding to the industrial fires, explosions, and chemical releases that continue to occur 150 times each year across the nation.

The EPA has shown that serious chemical accidents can be prevented if companies implement updated safety precautions. Submit your comment to the EPA today supporting a strong Chemical Disaster Rule.

The Chemical Disaster Rule will protect millions of residents and workers and must be implemented in its January 2017 form, not weakened or delayed as proposed by the administration.

Help make sure they get the message. Send your comment now.

Thank you!

Sincerely,

Dr. Mike Wilson
National Director for Occupational and Environmental Health

Entomologist John Jackson: “Bugs and Weeds Away–the Natural Way”

On May 29, John Jackson (BA in biology, MA in zoology, PhD in entomology) spoke on having a weed-free sidewalk and neutralizing mosquito breeding spots without using harmful chemicals. His talk at Iron Works Church in West Chester was sponsored by Don’t Spray Me! / Sierra Club and the South West Association of Neighbors (SWAN).

Here are some highlights of his talk and the subsequent discussion (with some resorting of topics):

1) Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are the best-known insects in the world, because of their role in spreading diseases, especially malaria, yellow fever, and dengue. But the ways chemical tools have been overused against them are not in the interest of either people or wildlife. Chemicals may be needed to prevent massive epidemics, especially in the tropics, but when overused become ineffective because insects develop resistance.

There are lots of biting flies beyond mosquitoes. Here, the predominantly evening-biting Culex mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus but day-biting Aedes (including Asian Tiger, which has been in the US only since 1985) almost never do. People should not view all insects (of which most don’t bite) as enemies.

Culex, the “house mosquito,” overwinters as adults in sheds, porches, tree hollows, and other sheltered areas. The adult mosquitoes we see in May have overwintered; they may have not yet had time to reproduce. Culex mosquitoes love urban environments, where they lay eggs in water where larvae feed on bacteria and organic matter.

West Nile Virus, which came to the US in 1999, depends on birds as a reservoir (unlike Zika, whose reservoir is people, making it easier to contain, as recently in Miami). Some birds, which in the past were often dying of WNV, appear now to be developing immunity. Fortunately, WNV is not transmitted through mosquito eggs, only from a bitten bird to another bitten bird or human. Known human WNV cases have been rare in PA.

Effective non-chemical defenses include tight-fitting screens, fans on ceilings or porches, repellents (notably lemon eucalyptus oil, picaridin, or citronella oil), various odoriferous granules spread in gardens or lawns.

Fogging with pesticides is a bad idea, because it kills many species, including mosquito predators like spiders; drift cannot be controlled; and it kills only adult mosquitoes, whereas many more larvae are just waiting to hatch every day and take over the air space.

The absolutely most important thing is to eliminate standing water, including where we might not think of it: in plastic bottles, the folds of tarps, in the fixed bottoms under some potted plants, even vases in cemeteries.

From mosquito egg to adult probably takes 10-15 days when weather is hot and damp, but 25-30 days with temperatures in the 70’s.

The bacteria-based larvcide Bti is very effective at killing mosquito larvae. The biscuits and granules have slower release than liquid and powder form. The hormonal Methoprene is also not toxic and prevents the metamorphosis to adult.

One of the worst sampling stations is in SE West Chester; it is not clear if that is related to Goose Creek. Trash in suburban streams creates mosquito habitat. And water can stand in old storm sewer lines like the Borough’s.

2) Weeds

Some undesired plants, like dandelions and poison ivy, are best dug up. Weeds are tough, but weakening them by cutting off the leaves a few times makes them more vulnerable to other treatments.

Old-school boiling water works really well; be careful, wear boots and goggles! Ditto butane flame torches. Or: a weak acid breaks down cell walls; vinegar works, but changes the soil chemistry.

He prefers to use 1 cup of borax (another kind of salt) in 1 gallon of warm water to kill weeds. The borax concentration can be doubled if needed. It also, for better or worse, it also kills ants, moss, lichen, and liverwort. Two applications a summer usually suffice, preferably in hot dry weather, since rain washes the borax away.

Regular table salt also kills plants; witness the die-off this past winter along roads and alleys in the Borough, which uses salt and brine to melt snow and ice. Municipalities tend to use twice as much salt as 20 years ago, even though less harmful substances are available. As a result, streams have increased chloride levels; he measured half the salt content of seawater in one stream.


excess salt, edge of alley, West Chester, 12/20/17

It’s not just pesticides and motor vehicles

Unfortunately, we are exposed to potentially harmful chemicals almost anywhere. The tension between regulation in the public interest and corporate sales plays out even in our homes.

See “Volatile chemical products emerging as largest petrochemical source of urban organic emissions” by Brian C. McDonald et al., Science, 16 Feb 2018: Vol. 359, Issue 6377, pp. 760-764.

According to the summary:

Air pollution evolution

Transport-derived emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have decreased owing to stricter controls on air pollution. This means that the relative importance of chemicals in pesticides, coatings, printing inks, adhesives, cleaning agents, and personal care products has increased. McDonald et al. show that these volatile chemical products now contribute fully one-half of emitted VOCs in 33 industrialized cities (see the Perspective by Lewis). Thus, the focus of efforts to mitigate ozone formation and toxic chemical burdens need to be adjusted.

When we talk to people about defending the environment, we need to mention that human well-being is inextricably related to environmental health. As the article’s very first sentence notes, “Exposure to air pollution is the fifth ranking human health risk factor globally, following malnutrition, dietary risks, high blood pressure, and tobacco.”

On that scale, details seem small, but perhaps it is time to pay attention to those warnings one reads about harmful chemicals in things like printed receipts, styrofoam cups, and cleaning sprays.

Read and download the full article here. Read more comment, see “Wall Paint, Perfumes and Cleaning Agents Are Polluting Our Air” by Rhitu Chatterjee, NPR, February 15, 2018.

The Politics of Infertility and Cancer

This article by Stacy Malkan, Huffington Post, 11/28/2017, is pretty shocking even by today’s standards. Some highlights:

Watch out for the Independent Women’s Forum, which despite its name is a front for right-wing causes supported by the Koch Brothers.

“Women can also benefit by ignoring “alarmist” concerns about toxic chemicals, according to an IWF lecture series sponsored by Monsanto.

“Moms who insist on organic food are arrogant, snobby “helicopter parents” who “need to be in control of everything when it comes to their kids, even the way food is grown and treated,” according to Julie Gunlock, director of IWF’s “Culture of Alarmism” project…”

One study cited shows that: “Glyphosate is a clear case of ‘regulatory capture’ by a corporation acting in its own financial interest while serious questions about public health remain in limbo. The record suggests that in 44 years—through eight presidential administrations—EPA management has never attempted to correct the problem. Indeed, the pesticide industry touts its forward-looking, modern technologies as it strives to keep its own research in the closet, and relies on questionable assumptions and outdated methods in regulatory toxicology.”

“The $800 billion chemical industry lavishes money on politicians and lobbies its way out of effective regulation. This has always been a problem, but now the Trump administration has gone so far as to choose chemical industry lobbyists to oversee environmental protections,” according to Nicholas Kristof.

The article presents many more examples of chemical industry malfeasance often covered up by its propaganda arms, sometimes with government collusion, but fortunately revealed by dedicated journalists and researchers.

The bottom line is no surprise: we must exercise constant vigilance and remain informed observers to protect ourselves and others.

Constant vigilance needed against dangerous chemicals

Who would sell products that could harm us? And safety regulations protect us, right? Answers: 1) People who want to make money and 2) Not as much as we might think.

Can someone sell you a recycled product that could blow up and kill you or contaminate you with toxins? Sure. Read “Empty industrial barrels bought on Craigslist present deadly dangers” by Rick Barrett at Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12/13/17.

Gasoline, other flammable chemicals, insecticides, and other toxins lurk in some used metal drums that can be bought online. At least 69 Americans have died from making such purchases in the past 15 years, according to the article.

Some of those dangerous chemicals are also lurking on the shelves of your local hardware store or maybe even in your own basement.

Read the labels, err on the side of caution, and don’t rely on someone else to warn you adequately or protect you and your family from harm.

New Year’s resolution: avoid dangerous chemicals!

Michael Dourson: A Toxic Choice for Our Health and Safety

by Genna Reed, science and policy analyst, Center for Science and Democracy, at Union of Concerned Scientists, October 19, 2017

Update (December 14, 2017): Michael Dourson has withdrawn his nomination to head the EPA’s division of chemical safety. Read the statement from UCS President Ken Kimmell, Dourson’s Withdrawal a Victory for Science, Health.

When it comes to conflicts of interest, few nominations can top that of Michael Dourson to lead the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Time after time, Dourson has worked for industries and against the public interest, actively downplaying the risks of a series of chemicals and pushing for less stringent policies that threaten our safety.

In short, Dourson pushes counterfeit science, is unfit to protect us from dangerous chemicals, and is a toxic choice for our health and safety….

read more at at Union of Concerned Scientists to see how lucky we are not to have this chemical industry apologist in charge of regulating that very industry!