March 18-Chicago; April 14-Madison; April 29-Milwaukee

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The EPA is requesting public comment on options for disclosing inert ingredients in pesticides. Inert ingredients, which can be highly toxic, are part of the end use product formulation, but are not defined as active against the target organism. Revealing inert ingredients will help consumers make informed decisions and may lead to better protection of public health and the environment. Public disclosure is one way to discourage the use of hazardous inert ingredients in pesticide formulations. Pesticide manufacturers usually disclose their inert ingredients only to the EPA. Currently EPA evaluates the safety of all ingredients in a product’s formulation when determining whether the pescticide should be registered. On October 1, 2009 the EPA responded to two petitions that designated more than 350 inert pesticide ingredients as hazardous. The petitioners asked EPA to require that these ingredients be identified on the labels of products that include them in their formulations. Despite their name, inert ingredients are neither chemically, biologically or toxicologically inert. In general, inert ingredients are minimally tested, hower, many are known to state, federal and international agencies to be hazardous to human health. A 2009 Study, finds that an inert ingredient in the popular herbicide, RoundUp, POEA, is more deadly to human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells than the herbicide itself. POEA is a surfacant, or detergent, derived from animal fat. It is added to RoundUp and other herbicides to help them penetrate plants’ surfaces, making the week killer more effective. Take Action: Submit your comments by going to and use docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2009-0635. Comments must be received by February 22, 2010.


Atrazine levels exceed federal regulations

Atrazine—an herbicide widely used in agriculture—has shown up in some Illinois drinking water systems at levels that exceed the federal standard of 3.0 parts per billion (ppb). In addition, atrazine levels have spiked to over 12 ppb in more than 40 water systems in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kansas, levels that require mandatory notification of residents. However, residents were not notified in any of these cases and the Environmental Protection Agency has not published the results.

Source: Huffington Post Investigative Fund, New York Times


Study questions safety of “inert” ingredients

French researchers recently published a study in the journal Toxicology that found glyphosate-based herbicides, when combined with so-called “inert” ingredients, can disrupt human liver cell function at very low doses. While safety testing performed on glyphosate alone, as required under federal law, shows few toxicity concerns, researchers are increasingly finding human health risks from glyphosate products as packaged and sold to consumers. This suggests that glyphosate becomes much more toxic when combined with other chemicals.

Despite manufacturers’ claims that glyphosate-based products do not present a significant health or environmental hazard, consumers should be made aware of the growing list of potential health risks and weigh their options before applying these products around the home.


New research strengthens link between pesticids and Parkinson’s

Recent research found that patients with Parkinson’s disease were more likely to have detectable levels of beta-hexachlorocyclohexane (beta-HCH), an organochlorine pesticide, in their blood than healthy patients or those with Alzheimer’s. Those with Parkinson’s also had higher than average levels of beta-HCH in their blood.

While this class of pesticides was banned in the U.S. in the 1970s, it can persist in people and the environment for decades.

Evidence linking pesticides and Parkinson’s has been found since the 1990s, but this research is the first to pinpoint a particular chemical.

For more information on the health risks of pesticides, see our factsheet Pesticides in Schools & Childcares: What Are the Health Risks?

Source: Reuters


Less Toxic Lawn Care Law for Schools and Childcares

Success! SPCP is proud to announce our success in getting current law amended to better protect children from toxic lawn care chemicals. Governor Quinn signed the amendments into law on August 13, 2009.

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‘THIS RAISES A RED FLAG’ | Potentially toxic bug repellent DEET turns up in Sun-Times tests of Chicago’s drinking water

In this age of West Nile virus, Lyme disease and other insect-borne health threats, millions of Americans have made slathering and spritzing themselves with the powerful repellent DEET part of their summer routine.

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Common frogs that live in suburban areas are more likely than their rural counterparts to develop reproductive abnormalities, according to David Skelly, PhD, professor of ecology at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

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Seven U.S. Representatives wrote to the EPA last Thursday, urging the government agency to act promptly to identify and screen products for dangerous endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

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For the first time, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report on children’s heightened vulnerability to chemical exposures at different periods of their growth and development.

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(Beyond Pesticides, September 18, 2007) On September 16, 2007, researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences presented findings to the European Respiratory Society Annual Congress in Stockholm showing that exposure to several commonly used pesticides increases the risk of asthma in farmers. Pesticide exposure is a “potential risk factor for asthma and respiratory symptoms among farmers,” said Dr. Jan A. Hoppin, a lead author. “This is the first study with sufficient power to evaluate individual pesticides and adult asthma among individuals who routinely apply pesticides,” Dr. Hoppin said.

”The study consisted of 19,704 farmers, 441 of which had asthma. Farmers who have experienced high pesticide exposure were twice as likely to have asthma.” Sixteen of the pesticides studied were associated with asthma.

Approximately 20 million Americans have asthma and it is the most common chronic childhood disease – afflicting 6.1 million children nationally. A bad asthma attack can be fatal. In urban areas around the country, death rates from asthma are disproportionately high. In fact, the asthma death rate in Chicago has more than doubled in the past 20 years, particularly for African American and Puerto Rican children.

To learn more about Asthma and Pesticides go to our fact sheets on Asthma, Pests, and Pesticides, and Pesticides in Schools and Childcares: What are the Health Risks.
Pesticides in Schools & Childcares: What Are the Health Risks?Asthma, Pests and Pesticides


The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) is asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to cut the widespread use of antibacterial agents, including triclosan and triclocarban, commonly used in liquid ‘anti-bacterial’ soaps. These products are washed down drains, often in large quantities, contaminating US waterways.

Terrence J. O’Brien, president of the MWRD, cited recent reports in scientific journals linking increased use of these antimicrobial compounds to the growing problem of antibiotic resistant drugs. Numerous studies have found that triclosan promotes the emergence of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Triclosan has also been linked to the formation of dioxin and chloroform, two highly carcinogenic substances.

The American Medical Association and Association for Professionals in Infection Control have said there’s no evidence that antibacterial soaps prevent infections in homes.


(10/24/06) Pesticide residues were found in every daycare center tested during a study led by the National Research Exposure Laboratory of the U.S. EPA. Of 39 pesticides tested, at least 1 showed up in every childcare facility involved in the study. Although many pesticides were found in low concentrations, the data indicates a large number of pesticides are used in and around child care facilities. This suggests that children’s exposure to pesticides is elevated during a period when they are most vulnerable to toxic environmental contaminants.

Young children are at greater risk of the health effects of pesticides because their bodies are still developing, putting them at greater risk of these poisons. Currently, no national standard exists to regulate low concentration exposures for children.


(10/24/06) Illinois is one of 14 states petitioning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to require pesticide manufacturers to disclose all ingredients on product labels. More disclosure would lead to greater consumer awareness of the potential health and environmental impacts of pesticide use.

Currently, EPA requires that pesticide labels disclose only the product’s “active” ingredients, the toxic materials intended to kill insects, weeds or other target organisms. However, pesticide products contain many “inert” ingredients. Despite their name, inert ingredients are often toxic themselves.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said: “Consumers have the right to know what they’re exposing themselves and their children to when they use pesticides. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose by requiring these toxic substances to appear on product labels.”

Currently, so-called “inert” ingredients – which make up as much as 99% of many common pesticides, are kept secret and are not listed on the pesticide labels. The chemicals used as “inerts” include many that EPA has officially determined to be hazardous or toxic.

The petition is available at For more information on the health risks of inerts, see the study entitled “Unidentified Intert Ingredients in Pesticides: Implications for Human and Environmental
Health” by Cox and Surgan, at


A study conducted by researchers from Harvard’s School of Public Health and published in the journal Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases found aerosol spraying of Resmethrin from trucks to be an ineffective control method for mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus. Resmethrin, a popular
synthetic pyrethroid compound used as an adulticide, does not reduce airborne mosquito populations to the extent necessary to affect disease transmission.

Since aerosols must actually contact mosquitoes in order to work, their efficacy is greatly reduced because much of the spray does not reach the targeted Culex mosquitoes which are host to the virus. Even when applied at maximum allowable rates the effective range of aerosol is limited to a small area.


(8/8/06) The US EPA announced the withdrawal of all agricultural products containing lindane, a potent neurotoxin used as an insecticide to treat crop seeds. Originally slated for cancellation proceedings in 1977, serious review did not occur until mandated by the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996. This action will eliminate 230,000 pounds of Lindane used yearly in seed treatment products.

Jim Gulliford, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Prevention, called lindane “one of the most toxic, persistent, bioaccumulative pesticides ever registered.” It is more acutely toxic than DDT, and can cause serious health problems such as seizures, nervous system damage, and a weakened immune system. Lindane is also a suspected carcinogen.

Once released into the environment Lindane is very persistent and does not breakdown easily. It is capable of traveling over air and water, and has been found in high concentrations in people as far away as the Arctic. As a result of this potential for hazardous exposure fifty-two countries have banned all uses of lindane, including Mexico.

Despite the EPA announcement, lindane is still approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in medical prescription treatments for lice and scabies. Many groups want a complete ban on pharmaceutical uses of Lindane.

SPCP is working with the national Ban Lindane coalition in support of a total ban on lindane use. See our fact sheet on Lice for more info on alternatives to Lindane.The Truth About Head Lice


Alarmed that popular insecticides that end up in urban streams are killing tiny aquatic creatures, California’s pesticide agency is conducting a review that is likely to lead to restrictions on many products commonly used on lawns and gardens.

The chemicals, pyrethroids, are man-made versions of natural compounds in chrysanthemum flowers. Their use has skyrocketed in the past few years as U.S. consumers and exterminators search for less-toxic alternatives for dangerous insecticides already banned.

But last fall, a UC Berkeley scientist reported that pyrethroids are polluting streams in Northern California suburbs, wiping out crustaceans and insects vital to ecosystems.

The compounds, particularly one called permethrin, are prevalent in lawn products and household and pet sprays as well as in insecticides sprayed by exterminators. Also, many cities spray a pyrethroid for mosquito control to prevent the spread of West Nile virus.

In restricting pyrethroids, the state agency hopes to keep some as options and ensure that people don’t switch to products that wind up being worse. The EPA is also reviewing pyrethroids for possible national restrictions.

Consumers can identify pyrethroids in products by checking labels for compounds that end in “thrin”. They are broad spectrum insecticides effective against a wide variety of flying and crawling insects.

When manufacturers receive the state notices next month, they must agree within 60 days to begin gathering information about their products’ toxicity and buildup in waterways. If they refuse, the agency will immediately cancel their products and they cannot be sold in California.

Beyond Pesticides


March 2006

(March 3, 2006) The U.S. Geological Survey released
Pesticides in the Nation’s Streams and Ground Water, 1992-2001, a ten-year survey of the contamination caused by pesticide use in agriculture and urbanized areas.

Every year, nearly one billion pounds of pesticides, many of which are linked to cancer, birth defects, neurological disorders, and environmental impacts, are used in the U.S, much of it ending up in our nation’s waterways. When pesticides are applied on fields, gardens, parks and lawns, a percentage of the chemicals end up running off the treated site.

Studies of major rivers and streams find that 96% of all fish, 100% of all surface water samples and 33% of major aquifers contain one or more pesticides at detectable levels. As a result of pesticide contamination of streams, rivers, lakes and underground water supplies, drinking water is also widely contaminated.

“The data shows an urgent need to strengthen policies at all levels of government and curtail pesticide use,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, a national information and advocacy group.

“This report underscores the need to strengthen, not weaken, water quality protections from toxic pesticides that pollute rivers, streams, lakes and our underground water supplies,” said Paul Schwartz, National Policy Coordinator of Clean Water Action.

As the USGS report shows, pesticides and their degradates are getting into the drinking water sources for millions of Americans. These contaminants combine with disinfectants, such as chlorine, added by drinking water providers to kill dangerous viruses, bacteria and pathogens, and form disinfectant by-products that are associated with increases in birth defects and miscarriages.

“Drinking water providers,” said Mr. Schwartz, “are then faced with a dilemma about how to deal with the twin problem of killing dangerous bacteria while not increasing the chemical health risks for pregnant women and healthy infants.”

“The toxic cocktail of pesticides in our drinking water can’t be addressed by the chemical by chemical regulatory approach of government,” said Jane Nogaki, pesticide program coordinator of NJ Environmental Federation. “Citizens can take action at the local level to reduce or eliminate pesticides in their own back yard, in their local parks and schools. ”

reprinted with permission from Beyond Pesticides


( July 27, 2005) A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that students and school employees are being poisoned by pesticide use at schools and from drift off of neighboring farmlands. The study, “Acute Illnesses Associated With Pesticide Exposure at Schools” (Vol. 294, No. 4, pp455-465), by Walter A. Alarcon, M.D. (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) et al, analyzed 2593 poisonings from 1998 to 2002 from three surveillance systems. While the analysis finds incident rates overall of 7.4 cases per million children and 27.3 cases per million employees, the authors conclude, “[T]hese results should be considered low estimates of the magnitude of the problem because many cases of pesticide poisoning are likely not reported to surveillance systems or poisoning control centers.” The authors recommend that strategies be adopted to reduce the use of pesticides at school and reduce drift.

The authors of the study work for a range of federal and state agencies, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Office of Pesticide Programs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and state health and environmental agencies in California, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. The surveillance data comes from three sources: California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) and the Sentinel Event Notification System for Occupational Risks (SENSOR), and Toxic Exposure Surveillance System (TESS).

The study finds that the incidence rates among children increased significantly from 1998 to 2002. Illness of high severity is found in three cases, moderate severity in 275 cases, and low severity in 2315 cases. Most illness is associated with insecticides (35%), disinfectants (32%), repellents (13%), and herbicides (11%). Among 406 cases with detailed information on the source of pesticide exposure, 281 (69%) are associated with pesticides used at schools and 125 (31%) are associated with pesticide drift exposure from farmland.

The authors cite that the study misses incidents for which medical attention is not sought or reported to a surveillance system or a poison control center. “Even when individuals seek medical care, their illness may not be recognized as pesticide-related, because of the nonpathogomonic nature of the signs and symptoms and because clinicians receive little training on these illnesses.”

While the study looks at acute, or short-term, effects, the study authors note that, “Repeated pesticide applications on school grounds raise concerns about persistent low level exposures to pesticides at schools.” Continuing, the authors state, “The chronic long-term impacts of pesticide exposures have not been comprehensively evaluated; therefore, the potential for chronic health effects from pesticide exposures at schools should not be dismissed. Unfortunately, the surveillance methods used in our report are inadequate for assessing chronic effects.” In addition, the authors note that pesticides on school grounds can be tracked inside school buildings.

The article concludes that to prevent pesticide exposure at schools implementation of integrated pest management programs in schools, practices to reduce pesticide drift, and adoption of pesticide spray buffer zones around schools are recommended.

Reprinted with permission from Beyond Pesticides


New York City Steps Up to the Plate in Dealing with Pesticides

On May 9, 2005, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City signed two laws into legislation that will help change the way the city deals with pesticides. The first is the New York City Pesticide Reduction Law which has several components. First, it applies to all pest control activities performed by city agents and contractors on property owned by the city. Second, it bans the use of all pesticides classified as Toxicity Category 1, as probable carcinogens, or as developmental toxins. Next, it establishes an interagency pest management committee headed by the NYC Department of Health. This Committee will come up with a plan to reduce the use of pesticides. This law also exempts a number of pesticides including those used on professional playing fields, in drinking water, in heating/cooling systems and a few others. It allows the Department of Health to grant waivers in the interest of public health. It requires city agencies to post advance notice of all pesticide applications and finally, it requires city agencies to maintain record of pesticide application.

The second law passed was the Pesticide Neighbor Notification Law. This law requires all schools and day care centers in the state of New York to provide certain types of notification when pesticides are used indoors or on school grounds. Although this law does not cover all pesticide applications, it is a step in the right direction. As Laura Haight, senior environmental associate for NYPIRG (New York Public Interest Research Group) says, “These bills put New York City at the forefront of the national effort to move pest control in a new direction, away from poisons and towards prevention”. She also goes on to say that, “If we can make safer pest control work here (New York City), we can make it work anywhere”.


April 27, 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that citizens damaged by pesticides have the right to sue the companies who manufacture the toxic products. The Dow Chemical Company argued that EPA registration under the Federal Fungicide, Insecticide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) protects manufacturers from liability. Dow claimed that the EPA registration process is designed to provide protection from these risks-if the chemical is registered then the registration process is responsible for resulting damage, not the manufacturer. The High Court ruled that FIFRA has inadequate warnings and has been this way since its enactment in 1972.

The Federal Court’s decision reads, “history emphasizes the importance of providing an incentive to manufacturers to use the utmost care in distributing inherently dangerous items. Private remedies that enforce misbranding requirements would seem to aid, rather than hinder, the function of FIFRA”.

According to Beyond Pesticides, a national advisory organization, the court’s decision is extremely important because: “The same companies or their trade associations including Dow Chemical Company that have successfully lobbied for weak national laws and standards do not want people who are harmed as a result to seek redress. The potential for court review of cases in which people are harmed creates a strong incentive for the development of safer products” .


On Thursday June 8, 2005 a Bill (SB 916) was passed in the Connecticut legislature that bans the use of all lawn care pesticides on the grounds of children’s day care centers and elementary schools. Under SB 916, private and public preschools will be allowed to use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to spray pesticides sparingly on play grounds and fields until July 2008. After this date, all pesticides will be banned. Nancy Alderman, president of Environment and Human Health, Inc. says that allowing schools to use pesticides sparingly for three years is a compromise seeing as “sports fields need a period of transition to come off their chemical addiction.” For a similar reason, the Bill does not apply to high schools. Some fear that lack of herbicides will reduce the quality of playing fields. However, Representative Lile Gibbons, one of the many co-signers of the Bill, says that “Eventually all schools are going to fall under this Bill”.

According to the Bill, a “lawn-care pesticide” means a pesticide registered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for use in lawn, garden, etc. and “integrated pest management” means use of all available pest control techniques including sensible use of pesticides, when warranted, to maintain a pest population at an acceptable level. In addition, as reported in Greenwich Time, a local paper, emergency applications of pesticides will be allowed when local or state health officials cite human health threats. With this Bill, many hope that Connecticut will set an example that other states will follow. SPCP has been working with Illinois Legislature to try to pass a similar Bill in Illinois.


On June 7, 2005, a coalition of farm workers, environmental and public health groups filed a law suit against EPA for failing to recognize health risks posed to children living on farms. The plaintiffs include Pesticide Action Network North America, United farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO, Natural Resources Defense Council(NRDC), Clean Water Action, and Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides. The plaintiffs claim that EPA has not taken into account the risk farm children face to exposure to pesticides when making standards for pesticide use on food.

Children living on farms have an increased risk of exposure to pesticides at home and at school. At home they are exposed to pesticides in the air, their food, and even their parent’s clothing. Also, many of the schools are located very close to pesticide-treated orchards. Children are more susceptible to exposure to pesticides because they eat more fruits and vegetables and drink more water than adults. Children also come into contact with dirt/dust and have a higher rate of hand to mouth contact. Exposure to pesticides is linked to problems such as neurological disorders, developmental delays, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and many other adverse affects.

Under the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act, EPA is required to account for special needs situations when setting standards for pesticide use. The plaintiffs petitioned in October 1998 for EPA to identify farm children as needing special protection from pesticide exposure. EPA failed to respond. Mary Reeves, PhD and senior scientist with Pesticide Action Network North America, says “We can no longer wait patiently while we hear every day from our communities directly affected by toxic pesticides. It is time to light a fire under EPA to force it to act to protect farm children’s health”. The plaintiffs are asking the court to force EPA to respond.


New research recently published in Environmental Health Perspectives (July 2004) indicates a direct correlation between pregnant women’s exposure to pesticides and the birth weight and height of their children. The research showed that before 2001, higher levels of the insecticides diazinon and chlorpyrifos in umbilical cord blood correlated with reduced birth weight and length in newborn babies, comparable to the effects of smoking. Chlorphyrifos and diazinon were commonly used as home pesticides.

In 2000 & 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took regulatory action to phase out residential use of these insecticides. Babies born after the 2001 ban show lower levels of these insecticides in their umbilical cord blood. According to the study, elimination of exposure to these pesticides by pregnant women has made a difference in the health of their newborn children. Since diazinon and chlorpyrifos are still registered for use on several agricultural crops, this is still an ongoing concern for the agricultural community.

Diazinon is an organophosphate insecticide, whose common trade names include Spectricide™, Knoxout™ and Basudin™. In the past it was the fifth most commonly used residential pesticide (2 to 4 million pounds annually). Chlorpyrifos (Dursban™) is one of the most widely used chemical pesticides in the country with 20-24 million pounds used annually.


A report released in April by the Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP) reviews 250 peer-reviewed studies published from1992 to 2003 on the human health effects of pesticides. The researchers found compelling evidence for a link between pesticide exposure and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, brain, prostate, kidney, and pancreatic cancer. In addition, they found that pesticide exposure consistently affects the nervous system. For children, pesticide exposure is associated with elevated risks for several cancers including brain cancer and leukemia. The College makes a strong overall recommendation, “avoid exposure to pesticides whenever and wherever possible” and specifically advocates “researching and implementing alternative organic methods of lawn and garden care and indoor pest control.” The full report can be read on-line at