DSM and CCEA

DSM had a productive weekend with of our environmental friends in the Chester County Environment Alliance. CCEA is an alliance of 29 locally active environmental organizations.

CCEA meets at least quarterly to discuss issues affecting our environment, help each other’s groups amplify our messages, coordinate events and campaigns, and use our resources jointly to help our shared mission to preserve and protect our environment.

At our May 4 meeting, we recapped the successful Earth Day Festival at Kerr Park in Downingtown and talked about next steps moving forward.

We’re excited to keep working together, and we look forward to connecting with local Chester County Environmental and Sustainability Advisory Councils in the coming months.

Find out more about the Chester County Environment Alliance and its member groups at www.chescoenvt.org/.

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“Non-toxic lawns & gardens and weed-free sidewalks”

“Non-toxic lawns & gardens and weed-free sidewalks”

Thursday, April 25. Doors open at 6:30 so come then for community and group exhibits. Talk begins at 7:00.

Andy Yencha from Penn State Extension speaker’s bureau in Cumberland County will speak on “Greening you Lawn, Naturally” and Dr. John Jackson, entomologist, will speak on “Bugs and Weeds Away–the Natural Way.” Q&A follows.

Business and Public Management Center, 50 Sharpless St., West Chester 19382. Park across the street in the Sharpless Parking Garage.

Two related topics: non-toxic ways to grow great lawns and vegetables and to keep weeds out of sidewalks. A green double-header presented by the West Chester Green Team, which includes 4CP, Ready for 100, Plastic-Free Please, and Don’t Spray Me!

This is the first in the Green Team’s hot button environmental series, addressing issues at the forefront of people’s thinking at this time in our history.

More info: mhudgings@gmail.com

Sidewalk teens DLN 7:17:17

Chemical exposure can harm future generations

This research is a real warning. US testing for harm done by toxic chemicals has long disregarded pregnant women. Recent studies have developed knowledge about epigenetics, the “on-and-off switch” mechanism that adds another layer to Darwin. Fungicides, pesticides, jet fuel, bisphenol A, DEET, atrazine, and as we already knew Roundup: all dangerous to people, and now known dangerous for generations. Rats, mice and pigs are often used as stand-ins for humans in medical testing.

Glyphosate Causes Serious Multi-Generational Health Damage to Rats – New WSU Research , Sustainable Pulse, Apr 23 2019

Michael Skinner, a WSU professor of biological sciences, and his colleagues exposed pregnant rats to the herbicide between their eighth and 14th days of gestation. The dose–half the amount expected to show no adverse effect–produced no apparent ill effects on either the parents or the first generation of offspring.

But writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers say they saw “dramatic increases” in several pathologies affecting the second and third generations. The second generation had “significant increases” in testis, ovary and mammary gland diseases, as well as obesity. In third-generation males, the researchers saw a 30 percent increase in prostate disease – three times that of a control population. The third generation of females had a 40 percent increase in kidney disease, or four times that of the controls.

More than one-third of the second-generation mothers had unsuccessful pregnancies, with most of those affected dying. Two out of five males and females in the third generation were obese.

Skinner and his colleagues call this phenomenon “generational toxicology” and they’ve seen it over the years in fungicides, pesticides, jet fuel, the plastics compound bisphenol A, the insect repellent DEET and the herbicide atrazine. At work are epigenetic changes that turn genes on and off, often because of environmental influences….

read more at Sustainable Pulse

West Chester Green Team

The West Chester Green Team is a new organization in the West Chester PA area supporting a renewable future and residents’ desire to lead a greener life style.

Component organizations:

Don’t Spray Me! (DSM) raises awareness about the dangers of pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals, and promotes natural gardens and lawns, and healthy food.

Plastic-Free Please Action Group (Facebook: here) informs residents and businesses about reducing plastic use in our everyday lives and encourages retailers to reduce single-use bags and packaging.

Chester County Citizens for Climate Protection (4CP) educates the community on the serious consequences of climate change and promotes actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Ready for 100 works with local leaders and helps cities and communities to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy.

See more on WCGT here.

West Chester Green Team and its component groups are members of the Chester County Environment Alliance (CCEA), which includes a detailed countywide environment calendar.

Download a pdf with the above info here: WCGT handout 2 pdf

Monsanto Roundup Attacks Healthy Gut Bacteria, Lawsuit Says

By Lydia Mulvany and Deena Shanker, Bloomberg, February 13, 2019

Monsanto Co. has been sued by thousands of farmers and others who blame their cancers on its massively popular Roundup weedkiller. Now Germany’s Bayer AG, which bought the agriculture giant last year, faces a claim that it deceived home gardeners about Roundup’s impact on their gut bacteria and their health.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Kansas City, Missouri, claims that labels on products such as Roundup’s Weed & Grass Killer falsely assured consumers that they target an enzyme not found “in people or pets.”

According to the suit — which names three consumers as plaintiffs seeking unspecified monetary damages and class action status — Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate attacks an enzyme also found in the beneficial intestinal bacteria of humans and some animals.

“Monsanto has misled consumers about glyphosate’s risks for decades,” plaintiffs’ attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said in an email. “Despite the company’s efforts to suppress and skew research on glyphosate, the science is in.”

The Roundup products at issue are distributed by Scotts Miracle-Gro, which is also named as a defendant. Two other suits, in Wisconsin and Washington, D.C., are based on similar arguments but aren’t class actions…

read more at Bloomberg

A Green Idea: Beeting the Ice

from West Goshen Township Newsletter, vol. 20, no. 1 (summer 2010) [A new idea in West Goshen 9 years ago, but not yet in West Chester, it seems…]

West Goshen Township has added a new weapon in its arsenal against ice: beet juice. Dry salt is effective at lowering the melting temperature of ice to about 15 degrees Fahrenheit—that is, it will melt ice at temperatures of 15 degrees or above. De-sugared beet molasses, when added to dry salt or brine, can melt ice at temperatures as low as -25 degrees, while adding traction, acting as a corrosion inhibitor, and not harming the environment like other brine additives. The beet juice solution is not slippery and doesn’t stain roads or cars. The salt brine and beet juice combination provide optimal results, allowing maximum melting while releasing the least amount of salt onto the roadways. Because the brine solution does not need to be spread as heavily as road salt, trucks do not need to refill as often, meaning additional fuel savings.

Blame Wood-Burning Stoves for Winter Air Pollution and Health Threats

By Michael D. Mehta, EcoWatch, 3/12/19

It may be natural, but there’s nothing safe or environmentally sound about heating your home with wood.

The World Health Organization has ranked air pollution and climate change as the top health threat for 2019. One in nine deaths around the world are due to air pollution.

In Canada, air pollution kills nine times more people than automobile accidents. My own research shows that in rural British Columbia the main source of winter air pollution is residential wood burning, and that it is mostly being ignored and rarely monitored by government.

Health Hazard

Wood smoke may smell good, but it is not good for you.

The main threat comes from the cocktail of tiny particles and droplets that are about 2.5 microns in diameter (also called PM2.5). Due to their size, they easily work their way into our lungs, bloodstream, brain and other organs, triggering asthma attacks, allergic responses, heart attacks and stroke.

Chronic exposure to PM2.5 is linked to heart disease, lung cancer in non-smokers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Type II diabetes and dementia.

Wood smoke affects everyone, but children are especially vulnerable in part because their respiratory systems are under development. Pregnant women exposed to wood smoke may have children with smaller lungs, impaired immune systems, decreased thyroid function and changes to brain structure that may contribute to difficulties with self control. Children who are hospitalized for lower respiratory tract infections are more likely to have a wood stove in the house, although other factors may also play a role.

The elderly are also at risk. A recent study of people living in BC, in Kamloops, Prince George, Courtenay and the Comox Valley, showed that wood stove pollution significantly increased the rate of heart attacks in people over 65.

And that nice smell? It comes from benzene, a carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) and acrolein.

With the dozens of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in wood smoke, it’s inconsistent for governments to ban smoking and vaping in public places while ignoring the smoke from wood stoves and fireplaces….

read more and follow links to more info at EcoWatch

Don’t Spray Me! then and now

Don’t Spray Me! began three and a half years ago, when several of us circulated a petition calling on the County Health Department to cancel its plan to West Chester’s Marshall Square Park. The claimed justification was, as it still is every time a neighborhood is sprayed, that distributing insecticide through the air was the last resort in protecting the good people in the Marshall Square Park area from West Nile Disease.

We pointed out that West Nile Virus is extremely rare in Pennsylvania and that mosquitoes could not possibly be breeding in Marshall Square Park, because. it is on a slope with no stagnant water. But what made the difference was the support of then Mayor Carolyn Comitta, who asked the County to delay spraying, which it did. Then, in early September, the weather shifted and the supposedly dire threat went away.

We then took to the social media to promote our view that spraying is damaging to human and environmental health. At early post representing our views was “Mosquito spraying: why doesn’t the county want to talk about it?,” first published in The Times of Chester County, 8/13/15. Our Facebook page has also been very helpful in reaching out to the public.

We now have over 550 supporters, about 3/5 of them in West Chester Borough and 2/5 elsewhere in Chester County. Our Board of Directors meets regularly to chart our direction, and we hold many events a year to reach out to the public, about a dozen in 2018.

At first, we joined in the West Nile Task Force with The County Health Department and West Chester Borough. That effort essentially ended a year ago, when it became clear that the County would not defer to a municipality’s desire to avoid being sprayed and meetings were no longer convened.

We have found it helpful to join forces with like-minded non-profit organizations. We are grateful to Sierra Club for, early on, making Don’t Spray Me! a Conservation Committee of the Southeastern PA Group and also to Sierra Club’s Grassroots Network for a grant that enabled us to hire our 2018 summer intern.

In the last year, we have also teamed up with other organizations within the Chester County Environment Alliance and West Chester Green Team. We believe that banding together with like-minded organizations helps us all to project our respective messages and the overall principle of protecting environmental and human health.

In our case, our message has expanded from resisting unnecessary insecticide spraying to educating the public and public officials and employees about the dangers of pesticides, herbicides, and other toxic chemicals that all too often make their way into our lives, homes, gardens, lawns and environment.

(See also our 2018 annual report here.)

Next installments in our story: using Pennsylvania’s Right To Know law, what people and municipalities can do, and specifically larviciding to prevent mosquito breeding in standing water.

The problem with salt

from Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Drinking water
— Salt has contaminated groundwater in some areas of the state; 75% of Minnesotans rely on groundwater for drinking water. Excess salt could affect the taste and healthfulness of drinking water. Twenty-seven percent of monitoring wells in the Twin Cities metro area’s shallow aquifers had chloride concentrations that exceeded EPA drinking water guidelines. Thirty percent of Twin Cities wells had chloride concentrations that exceeded the water quality standard.

Fish and aquatic bugs
— High amounts of chloride are toxic to fish, aquatic bugs, and amphibians. Chloride can negatively affect the fish and insect community structure, diversity and productivity, even at lower levels

Plants — Road salt splash can kill plants and trees along the roadside; plants that take up salty water through their roots can also suffer. Chloride in streams, lakes, and wetlands harms aquatic vegetation and can change the plant community structure.

Soil — Salt-laden soil can lose its ability to retain water and store nutrients and be more prone to erosion and sediment runoff (which also harms water quality).

Pets — Salt can sicken pets that consume it, lick it off their paws, or drink salty snow melt/runoff. It can also irritate their paw pads.

Wildlife — Some birds, like finches and house sparrows, can die from ingesting deicing salt. Some salt-sensitive species are particularly at risk.

Infrastructure — Chloride corrodes road surfaces and bridges and damages reinforcing rods, increasing maintenance and repair costs.

Read the full post at Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. See lots more info on road salt pollution in “Road salt is polluting our water. Here’s how we can fix it,”  MPR News, 12/7/17

The first photo was taken in West Chester, 3/4/19, with excess salt lying at the left side and center of the dry alley, but passing cars have scattered the salt away from the parts of the pavement where it could melt any snow that the tires of cars could actually come in contact with. The darker lines running along the alley are brine, which does not scatter to the edges and middle or into adjoining soil. though it may be worn down and distributed into the air.

salt-in-alley-34-19-e1552221110386.jpg

The second photo shows the same alley the same day. The blue-green spots on the fence contain road salt projected widely and forcibly from the salt-spreading truck;. You can also see salt crystals lying on the ground behind the rose bush and melted spots where they have landed in the snow which have to be removed by hand to prevent the salt from soaking into the ground and killing off the sorts of alleyside plantings that help keep the Borough beautiful.

Salt on fence