Pesticide Hypersensitivity Registry and Application

Public and commercial spray operators are required to give advance notice of spraying to registered individuals. In addition, the Chester County Health Department grants registered hypersensitive individuals an exclusion zone around their residence to spare them from chemical exposure.

If you feel you qualify, to register you can download the form here: Pesticide Hypersensitivity Application Form(2). Then print and fill it out, get a physician’s signed approval, and submit it.

Background info at Penn State Extension includes:

“The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) maintains a registry of individuals hypersensitive to pesticides. It is a listing of locations for people who have been verified by a physician to be excessively or abnormally sensitive to pesticides. These hypersensitive individuals may request to have listings of their home, place of employment, school (if a student), and vacation home placed in the Registry. A person will not be considered included in the Registry unless their name appears in the current published Registry.”

Note that you can register not just your home address but up to 4 locations.

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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.

Missouri Organic Family Farm Faces Ruin After Herbicide Drift

by Ken Roseboro, EcoWatch, 2/4/18

Herbicide drift has been a major problem last year damaging millions of acres of crops in the U.S.

An organic farmer in Missouri has seen firsthand how destructive herbicide drift can be as it destroys his crops and threatens his livelihood and farm.

Mike Brabo and his wife Carol own Vesterbrook Farm in Clarksville, Missouri, about an hour north of St. Louis near the Mississippi River. The farm has been in Carol’s family for nearly a century. The couple and their two children have worked the farm since 2008 after Mike survived thyroid cancer.

At that time Mike gained an appreciation for organic foods but found it difficult to afford them. “It’s expensive to buy organic fruits and vegetables at Whole Foods,” he said.

Mike and Carol decided to grow their own. It wasn’t difficult to convert the farm to organic since no chemicals had been used on the land….

read more at EcoWatch

Trump’s EPA could allow teenage workers to handle dangerous pesticides

by Doris Cellarius, Sierra Club Grassroots Network, 1/11/18, from Huffington Post. See both sites for links to more info.

If the Environmental Protection Agency follows through with a reform now under consideration, teenage farmworkers and other working minors would once again be allowed to handle dangerous pesticides while on the job.

The EPA is now reevaluating a 2015 rule that tightened safety standards for farmworkers. In particular, the agency is considering changing or scrapping the requirement that anyone working with pesticides in agriculture be at least 18 years old.

Doctors had called for those restrictions to be put in place because pesticides can increase the risk of cancer or impact brain development in children.

The EPA may also tweak or do away with the age requirements of another recent rule, which spells out who can be certified to be an applicator of the chemicals that the EPA classifies as the most toxic. That could make it legal for minors to work with what are known as “restricted-use” pesticides, like arsenic and methyl bromide, in a host of industries beyond just agriculture, such as landscaping and pest control.

Restricted-use pesticides are not sold to the public for general use because of how dangerous they can be to people and the environment.

Saving the Environment: Pennsylvania to Paris

“Saving the Environment: Pennsylvania to Paris”: Feb. 25 2-4 p.m. panel on environmental and climate change at Unitarian Congregation, 501 S High St West Chester, PA 19382.

Environment, because we can’t do without it and must preserve it to preserve ourselves.

Pennsylvania, because that is where we are and can bring about change, and because Pennsylvania remains one of the most polluting states.

Paris, because the countries of the world came together in the 2015 Paris Agreement to pull the world back from increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Speakers will be:

Dianne Herrin, energy usage specialist, mayor of West Chester

Chrissy Houlahan, founding COO of B-Lab (a nonprofit that promotes corporations that consider the public welfare); candidate for US Congress

Richard Whiteford, Climate Change Adviser and Board Member: World Information Transfer NGO, United Nations; participant, Paris Conference on climate, 2015

Audience questions will be channeled through 3 local figures with interest in the field: Jessica Cadorette, Matt Holliday, and Elizabeth Moro.

Hosted by Unitarian Congregation. Co-sponsored by Don’t Spray Me!, West Chester Co-op, West Chester Sustainability Advisory Committee. Refreshments provided by the West Chester Co-op.

Park on a nearby street or in the Sharpless Street Garage, 25 Sharpless St.

No RSVP needed, but for more information, contact Margaret at mhudgings@gmail.com.

Download pdf here to share with friends: Saving envt PA to Paris 2-25

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!

Don’t Spray Me! Report for 2017

First, we got some good coverage in 2017 (as in 2016) in the Daily Local News. See “Area teens find organic solution for killing weeds in sidewalks,” 7/17/17, and “‘Don’t Spray Me!’ holds rally in West Chester,” 8/28/17.

Our 5-page report can be downloaded here: DSM report 2017 12-3-17. It includes the following topics:

Spraying, larviciding, and storm drains

West Chester got through another summer with no Chester County Health Department spraying, but East Bradford, Downingtown, Birmingham, Thornbury, and Spring City were not so fortunate. It was a difficult summer with heat and lots of rain and in some areas residents reported more mosquitoes than in 2016.

We would like to emphasize preventive measures and are pressing for more thorough-going inspection, repair, and larviciding of storm drains wherever they exist. We believe that storm drains and sluggish natural water in dry weather are now the main sources of mosquitoes here. We plan to continue to emphasize the Block Captain model in West Chester.

East Bradford report

Lots of progress coming from the town’s Environmental Advisory Council and municipal staff; and residents and homeowner associations started to be more active.

Other accomplishments and victories in 2017

– a March for the Environment, following speakers in the center of West Chester, with 250 people

– an experiment in which our “Sierra Club Youth Corps” of high school students showed that a non-toxic solution is effective in fighting weeds in brick sidewalks

– two celebratory community picnics in May and in September, with other local groups

– an environmental film series at West Chester University in the fall, emphasizing toxic chemicals

Goals for 2018

Work with municipalities and the County on community education.

Emphasize larviciding, the most effective form of mosquito control.

Understand better the Vector Index used as a guide to spraying by the County and work toward raised thresholds.

Institute an “Adopt a Storm Drain” program.

Start up new DSM chapters.

A new model of yard signs.

Programs: Jan. 21 environmental justice film, Feb. 25 panel on environmental and climate change, Earth Day gathering and march on Sunday April 22, summer community event, May and Sept. celebrations in Everhart Park, Green Lawns event in fall.

A summer intern helping implement outreach, mosquito control, and larviciding goals.

Travels with Charley, a smart dog

American novelist John Steinbeck was obviously a smart guy. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962. That same year, he published “Travels with Charley,” an account of driving across the country and back with his faithful but sometimes ailing canine companion.

However, in one respect Charley acts smarter than the writer. Somewhere in Ohio, Steinbeck pulls the camper for the night into a place infested with flies. “For the first time i got out the bug bomb and sprayed heavily, and Charley broke into a sneezing attack so violent and prolonged that I had finally to carry him out in my arms. ” The same thing happened again in the morning. “I never saw such a severe allergy,” Steinbeck concludes.

Charley was smart enough to sense that he was being poisoned by a pesticide and he wanted out. That was in an era when elms were still being sprayed to try to save them from Dutch Elm Disease and kids ran along in the spray.

1962 was also the year that Rachel Carson published “Silent Spring.” If Steinbeck had had a chance to read that epoch-making warning about pesticides before writing “Travels with Charley,” he would have recognized a toxic chemical spray when he saw one. And if he had read Carson before his trip in 1960, he probably wouldn’t have sprayed around poor Charley at all. He did learn that on his own, though, because whenever he sprayed thereafter, “I had to close Charley out and air out the house or cab after the pests were dead.”

All that spraying probably wasn’t too good for Steinbeck either; he died in 1968 at the age of 66.

EPA to Consider Approving Spraying of Bee-killing Pesticide on 165 Million Acres of U.S. Farmland

by Lori Ann Burd, Center for Biological Diversity, 12/19/17

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will consider allowing the bee-killing pesticide thiamethoxam to be sprayed on the most widely grown crops in the United States. The application, if approved, would allow the highly toxic pesticide to be sprayed directly on 165 million acres of wheat, barley, corn, sorghum, alfalfa, rice and potato.

The proposal by the agrochemical giant Syngenta to dramatically escalate use of the harmful neonicotinoid pesticide came last Friday, on the same day the EPA released new assessments of the extensive dangers posed by neonicotinoids, including thiamethoxam.

“If the EPA grants Syngenta’s wish, it will spur catastrophic declines of aquatic invertebrates and pollinator populations that are already in serious trouble,” said Lori Ann Burd, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s environmental health program. “You know the pesticide-approval process is broken when the EPA announces it will consider expanding the use of this dangerous pesticide on the same day its own scientists reveal that the chemical kills birds and aquatic invertebrates.”

Neonicotinoids have long been known to pose serious harm to bee populations. But the new EPA assessments found the commonly used pesticides can kill and harm birds of all sizes and pose significant dangers to aquatic invertebrates.

Thiamethoxam is currently widely used as a seed coating for these crops. This application would allow it to be sprayed directly on the crops, greatly increasing the amount of pesticide that could be used.

The just-released aquatic and non-pollinator risk assessment found that the majority of uses of the neonicotinoid on currently registered crops resulted in risks to freshwater invertebrates that exceeded levels of concern — the threshold at which harm is known to occur….

read more and see links at Center for Biological Diversity