Tag Archives: health

Santa Rosa may rethink use of chemical sprays such as Roundup in parks

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Santa Rosa is the latest Sonoma County city to take a harder look at how it uses synthetic herbicides like Roundup following the state’s action to list the key ingredient in the weed killer as a known cause of cancer.

The City Council agreed Tuesday to re-bid a large landscaping contract to see if there are maintenance options that don’t use glyphosate-based herbicides such as Roundup, or neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides suspected of contributing to the demise of bee populations.

The city will seek bids for landscaping methods using common chemical sprays, as well as bids using more organic methods outlined by the Russian River Watershed Association.

“I will be very interested to see the Russian River-friendly proposal,” said Councilman Chris Rogers, who urged the city rethink its approach.

The move was the latest by a local government amid rising regulatory and scientific scrutiny of glyphosate, listed this month by California as a cancer-causing agent over the objection of agrichemical giant and Roundup maker Monsanto, which contends it is safe when used appropriately.

Read more at: Santa Rosa may rethink use of chemical sprays such as Roundup in parks | The Press Democrat

Filed under Sustainable Living, Water, Wildlife

Russian River beach still closed; officials search for cause of high bacteria levels 

Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Inquiries and inspections have been made about septic tanks, porta-potty operations and homeless encampments as well, in an effort to narrow down the cause, ….

Updates on the status of the beach are available at sonomacounty.ca.gov/Health/Environmental-Health/Water-Quality/Fresh-Water-Quality/.

Monte Rio Beach will remain closed to swimming for at least one more day as public officials continue to pursue the reason for elevated lab tests that indicate contamination of the water with harmful bacteria, the Sonoma County Department of Health Services reported Monday.

The decision to keep beach-goers out of that stretch of the Russian River through at least Tuesday extends the ongoing beach closure to a fifth day, though officials have yet to confirm or pinpoint any specific hazard or source of pollution.

But state guidelines governing water quality required the closure last week because of test results above the state-allowed threshold for two indicator bacteria considered markers for possible fecal contamination. The beach status is now considered day-to-day.

The latest round of testing put total coliform bacteria at 11,199 organisms per 100 milliliters of sampled water collected off the beach Sunday, Deputy County Health Officer Karen Holbrook said. The state standard is 10,000 organisms per 100 ml.E. coli was measured at 149 organisms per 100 milliliters in samples taken Sunday. The state standard is 235 per 100 ml.E. coli levels dropped below the safety threshold July 6 and appear to have stayed there, though they remain above the two-digit numbers typical of routine testing at 10 Russian River beaches conducted by the county.

The highest test result in the past week put the E. coli level at 833 organisms per 100 ml. or almost four times the state standard, possibly as a result of huge crowds at the beach over the July Fourth weekend.

Read more at: Russian River beach still closed; officials search for cause of high bacteria levels | The Press Democrat

Filed under Water

Healthy diet good for climate change

Tim Radford, CLIMATE NEWS NETWORK

US-based research has found that even a modest switch to a more vegetable-based diet could lead to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Scientists have worked out how to combat climate change and improve human health, one mouthful at a time.

The answer is a familiar one: they calculate that a relatively modest switch towards a more vegetable-based diet could, in the US at least, lead to a reduction of 222kg in greenhouse gas emissions per person per year, while cutting the relative risk of coronary heart disease, colorectal cancer and type 2 diabetes by 20% to 40%.

It could also reduce US healthcare costs by at least $77bn a year and possibly $93bn.

The US spends $3tn on healthcare every year – 18% of gross domestic product – and a significant proportion of health costs are associated with obesity and illnesses linked to diet.

Read more at: Healthy diet good for climate change – Climate News NetworkClimate News Network

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Climate Change & Energy

Pernicious pesticides hiding in plain sight

Megan Kaun, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE

We talk a lot these days about the importance of civic engagement. If you are convinced that pesticides and your family should not mix, adopt your favorite park or school campus. Though they might be hesitant initially to change the way things are done, with persistence and a smile they will probably allow you to do their job for them.

What’s yellow and orange and dead all over?

Bright orange streaks pop from the verdant Sonoma County landscape this spring. These are poisoned plants, treated by glyphosate. If you are like me, you may have overlooked this phenomenon, but once you know, it is impossible to ignore.Glyphosate (ɡlīf-ə-sāt), the active ingredient in products like RoundUp®, is the chemical of choice for weed control.

Originally promoted for its safety compared to other pesticides, increasing evidence links glyphosate to cancer and other significant health issues. However, these dangers are largely unrecognized by its users and the general public. In fact, the County of Sonoma alone sprayed over 3,800 gallons of glyphosate-based pesticides in public spaces in 2015; from Spring Lake in Santa Rosa to Sunset Beach in Guerneville.

For a long time, I didn’t notice the dead orange weeds along the sidewalks, nor did I think about how they might be affecting my family’s health and local wildlife. I avoided using pesticides at home, but I didn’t consider use at our parks and schools. I am an environmental engineer, who spent my early career cleaning up toxic waste, so I should have known better. Two years ago I was unaware. Then a personal experience woke me up.

Read more at: Pernicious Pesticides – Hiding in Plain Sight – April 2017

Filed under Sustainable Living

Proposed rule for pesticide spraying near schools revised by state agency

Bill Swindell, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The state Department of Pesticide Regulation on Thursday issued a revised proposed regulation on spraying pesticides near schools, changing an earlier version to provide farmers more leeway in reporting the spraying to school officials.

Despite that change, the proposed regulation remained largely the same as that issued in September and fundamentally bans pesticide applications within a quarter-mile of schools and day care centers on weekdays between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The rule has been heavily lobbied on both sides. Agricultural interests complained that it was regulatory overreach that wasn’t backed up by available science. Environmental advocacy groups argued it did not do enough to protect children and did not contain sufficient provisions for enforcement. About 500 comment letters have been filed on the plan.

Under the original proposal, farmers would have been required to notify school officials and the county agricultural commissioners of pesticide sprays made within that quarter-mile area 48 hours before they occur.

The revised rule would only require them to provide an annual notification of pesticides that they expect will be applied near the school zones. The grower must describe the pesticides likely to be used, their names and active ingredients as well as a map showing the acreage and its proximity to the school.

Read more at: Proposed rule for pesticide spraying near schools revised by state agency | The Press Democrat

Filed under Land Use, Sustainable Living

California clears hurdle for cancer warning label on Roundup

Scott Smith, ASSOCIATED PRESS

California can require Monsanto to label its popular weed-killer Roundup as a possible cancer threat despite an insistence from the chemical giant that it poses no risk to people, a judge tentatively ruled Friday.

California would be the first state to order such labeling if it carries out the proposal.Monsanto had sued the nation’s leading agricultural state, saying California officials illegally based their decision for carrying the warnings on an international health organization based in France.

Monsanto attorney Trenton Norris argued in court Friday that the labels would have immediate financial consequences for the company. He said many consumers would see the labels and stop buying Roundup.

“It will absolutely be used in ways that will harm Monsanto,” he said.

After the hearing, the firm said in a statement that it will challenge the tentative ruling.

Read more at: California clears hurdle for cancer warning label on Roundup | The Press Democrat

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Sustainable Living

Paraquat linked to Parkinson’s disease

Danny Hakim, THE NEW YORK TIMES

Huddersfield, England — The factory here, set amid a brick campus in a green and hilly industrial town, recently celebrated its centennial.

It produces paraquat, one of the world’s most enduring weed killers — but not one that can be purchased in this part of northern England, in the rest of Britain or across the Channel in the rest of the European Union.

So it will be sent to the United States, or another part of the globe that still allows paraquat to be sprayed on weeds.

Paraquat has long been controversial because of its use in suicides in many parts of the world, since drinking one sip can be lethal. But now regulators in the United States are grappling with a wave of research linking paraquat to a less immediately apparent effect — Parkinson’s disease.

In a recent, little noticed regulatory filing, the Environmental Protection Agency said, “There is a large body of epidemiology data on paraquat dichloride use and Parkinson’s disease.” The agency is weighing whether to continue allowing the chemical to be sprayed on American cropland, although a decision is not expected until 2018, and it is unclear how the incoming administration of Donald J. Trump will view the matter.

Read more at: This Pesticide Is Prohibited in Britain. Why Is It Still Being Exported?

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Sustainable Living

Fluoride back on the ballot in Healdsburg 

Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Two years after overwhelmingly supporting fluoridation of their city water, Healdsburg voters will again weigh in on the issue. But the ballot language approved by the City Council appears headed toward a court challenge.

The question approved by the City Council Monday on a 4-1 vote is straightforward: “Shall the City of Healdsburg stop fluoridating its water supply?”

But to fluoride opponents it oversimplifies and ignores what their initiative petition asked of voters: whether a moratorium should be instituted on fluoridation until the manufacturer of the additive provides detailed chemical reports and a written statement verifying its safety for ingestion.

Read more at: Healdsburg fluoridation struggle continues | The Press Democrat

Filed under Water

Op-Ed: Contaminating our bodies with everyday products

Nicholas Kristof, THE NEW YORK TIMES

In recent weeks, two major medical organizations have issued independent warnings about toxic chemicals in products all around us. Unregulated substances, they say, are sometimes linked to breast and prostate cancer, genital deformities, obesity, diabetes and infertility.

“Widespread exposure to toxic environmental chemicals threatens healthy human reproduction,” the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics warned in a landmark statement last month.The warnings are a reminder that the chemical industry has inherited the mantle of Big Tobacco, minimizing science and resisting regulation in ways that cause devastating harm to unsuspecting citizens.

In the 1950s, researchers were finding that cigarettes caused cancer, but the political system lagged in responding. Now the same thing is happening with toxic chemicals.

The gynecology federation’s focus is on endocrine disrupters, chemicals that imitate sex hormones and often confuse the body. Endocrine disrupters are found in pesticides, plastics, shampoos and cosmetics, cash register receipts, food can linings, flame retardants and countless other products.

“Exposure to toxic chemicals during pregnancy and lactation is ubiquitous,” the organization cautioned, adding that virtually every pregnant woman in America has at least 43 different chemical contaminants in her body. It cited a National Cancer Institute report finding that “to a disturbing extent babies are born ‘pre-polluted.’”

This warning now represents the medical mainstream. It was drafted by experts from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the World Health Organization, Britain’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and similar groups.

Read more at: Contaminating Our Bodies With Everyday Products – The New York Times

Filed under Sustainable Living

Annadel State Park teeming with ticks

Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following steps for preventing Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections:

– Walk in the center of trails- Use repellents that contain 20 to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours. Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5 percent permentrin.

– Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors, preferably within two hours.- Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on cothing and pets, then attach to a person later.

– Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for up to an hour to kill remaining ticks.

– For more information, go to www.cdc.gov/lyme

Annadel State Park, the popular 5,000-acre wildland on Santa Rosa’s east flank, is a hotbed of ticks that can transmit Lyme disease, according to a Stanford University study that sampled 20 recreational areas from Sonoma County to Santa Cruz.

Researchers found six immature blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, per 100 meters on trails in Annadel, the second-highest concentration of the tiny arachnids reported in the study, which was financed by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation and published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

The only higher concentration was 10 ticks picked up along a trail in the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve in Portola Valley.

Nearly 10 percent of the ticks from Annadel tested positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, a condition that afflicts about 30,000 people a year nationwide and almost eight per year in Sonoma County.

Aside from some fine points overall, the study said nothing new about the county, which has a 10-year average of 1.41 Lyme disease cases per 100,000 people a year, seven times higher than the statewide rate, according to the Sonoma County Department of Health Services.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a big surprise,” said Dan Salkeld, a disease ecologist who was the study’s lead author, regarding the Annadel tick population. “Sonoma is a beautiful place to go and look for ticks,” he said. “Other people go there for wine; I go there for ticks.”

Neill Fogarty, the supervising ranger at Annadel, said he’s accustomed to finding the immature ticks, known as nymphs, on his body after he has walked through the park, which attracts about 150,000 hikers, runners, mountain bikers and horseback riders annually.

“I usually pick up a few of them every year,” he said.

Of all the environments sampled, the Stanford study found that deer ticks favor live oak-dominated woodlands most of all, and Annadel has plenty of oaks — including coast live oak and black oak — on the west side of the park, around Lake Ilsanjo, Fogarty said.

Read more at: Study: Annadel State Park teeming with ticks | The Press Democrat

Filed under Wildlife