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 

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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!

How to celebrate Pollinator Week 2019! (6/17-6/23)

In 2007, the Senate designated a week in June as “National Pollinator Week” – a week to raise awareness about the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. During this week, people all over the country celebrate the valuable ecosystem services provided by birds, bees, butterflies, and beetles! So how can you take part this year?

Here are just a few activities you can do, from pollinator.org

  • Display pollinator artwork and outreach materials
  • Host a pollinator-themed meal or mixer
  • Pollinator planting day at your school, office, local park, or library
  • Build native bee houses
  • Screen a pollinator film (such as Bee Movie!)
  • Plant habitat in your backyard using native plants
  • Host a nature walk or pollinator expert lecture

Additionally, check out 7 Things You Can Do for Pollinators

  1. Plant for pollinators
  2. Reduce or eliminate the impact of pesticides
  3. Register as a share site
  4. Reach out to others – inform and inspire!
  5. Support local bees and beekeepers
  6. Conserve all of our resources; use less and reduce our impact
  7. Support the work of groups promoting science based, practical efforts for pollinators

For more information, please visit pollinator.org where you can learn even more about pollinators and how we can help them.

What we’ll be missing without our pollinators

Daily Local News writer Pam Baxter has reminded us what we’ll be missing out on if pollinators die off. In her article Planting for Pollinators, she warns:

Pollinators are in a serious decline and this has the potential for a serious effect on certain crops. We’re talking virtually all of the fruits we enjoy: apples, peaches, plums, oranges, lemons, limes, cherries, bananas, melons, papayas and mangos, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and elderberries. And say goodbye to wine; grapes also need insects for pollination. We’d also lose some of our main sweetener sources – sugarcane and agave – and honey too, of course.

Also on the farewell list would be tomatoes, avocados, almonds, cashews, nutmeg, vanilla, coconut, and sesame seeds. Goodbye to chocolate and coffee too; they also rely on insect pollinators. 

Pam Baxter, Daily Local News, 6/6/19
Pollinator at work.

Read the full article here.

Monsanto slammed with a $2 billion lawsuit: Another hit in a string of cancer cases

For the third time in a year, Monsanto has been found culpable by a jury for contributing to or causing cancer in long-term users of the product Roundup. Alva and Alberta Pilliod both were diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma after using the product Roundup at their home over the span of 40 years. After a 5-week trial, the jury awarded the couple $1 billion each for damages, to be paid by Bayer, the owner of Monsanto and producer of Roundup.

Roundup is the most popular weedkiller in the world, used widely by gardeners, groundskeepers, and homeowners across America. The key ingredient of Roundup, glyphosphate, is the chemical under question. While Bayer and the EPA continue to insist that glyphosate is not harmful to humans, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has found the chemical is “probably” carcinogenic to humans.

Both sides point to respective scientific studies to back their claims. So how did they reach such different conclusions? A possible explanation for this difference in findings is explained by Hilary Brueck in Business Insider. Brueck examines a paper published in Environmental Sciences Europe which found that the EPA relied mainly on industry-funded “unpublished regulatory studies”, while the IARC looked to “mostly peer-reviewed studies”. Monsanto-led studies found that farmers spraying from large spray rigs in fields have not been negatively affected by chemicals in Roundup. However, others insist that the people really in danger are those that are out spraying with a handheld device repeatedly and over a long period of time, like Alva and Alberta. Bayer continues to maintain that anyone who follows instructions on the label will be completely safe.

This is the third time in the past year that Bayer has lost to carcinogenic allegations. In August 2018, Dewayne Johnson, a groundskeeper, was awarded $78.5 million. In March of this year, Monsanto was ordered to pay $80 million to Edwin Hardeman, who used Roundup on his property for 30 years and also developed cancer.

As this latest cancer case breaks, up to 13,000 more lawsuits accumulate nationwide against Bayer-Monsanto.

Don’t Spray Me! and other local environmental groups continue to warn against the use of toxic pesticide and herbicide spraying. Instead, we promote non-toxic methods such as this safe vinegar mixture shared by DSM’s Jim Hudgings. While not everyone has agreed yet that Roundup and other sprays like it are carcinogenic, it is best to stick with a more natural approach, just to be safe. In fact, a study done in 2016 by an independent group found glyphosate in drinking water and groundwater, that the chemical damaged livers and kidneys in rats, and that pigs exposed to glyphosate exhibited congenital malformations. And although the EPA still won’t support the claim that Roundup is harmful to humans, they have admitted that there are “potential ecological risks for terrestrial and aquatic plants, birds, and mammals.” Never mind that humans are, in fact, terrestrial mammals.

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!

If you love dogs, don’t put chemicals on lawns!

See the paper by Deborah W. Knapp et al., “Detection of herbicides in the urine of pet dogs following home lawn chemical application,” at Science of The Total Environment, Volumes 456–457, 1 July 2013, Pages 34-41.

No surprise: dogs in contact with lawns pick up lawn chemicals, which increase the risk of bladder cancer. And even more sinisterly, “Dogs may serve as sentinels for human exposure.”

To state the obvious: children are more sensitive to pesticides and herbicides than adults are; and children, like dogs, like to romp in grass.