Banned Pesticide Continues to Poison People

Banned Pesticide Continues to Poison People

Postby Oscar » Tue May 12, 2015 9:08 pm

Banned Pesticide Continues to Poison People

[ http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/3 ... son-people ]

Thursday, 07 May 2015 00:00 By Amy K. Liebman and Ed Zuroweste, Truthout | Op-Ed

It sounds more like the sinister scheme of a villain in a thriller movie than a Delaware family's sleepy island vacation: A month ago, a tasteless, odorless, colorless neurotoxin poisoned a family of four while on vacation on the Virgin Islands. The two teenage sons remain in comas. [ http://www.delcotimes.com/general-news/ ... and-resort ]

Turns out, it wasn't an evil plot; it was your neighborhood pest control company, which sprayed a banned pesticide in the condominium below the family's rented abode. In late April, an expanded investigation by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uncovered the use of the banned pesticide in Puerto Rico as well. But what about here on the mainland?

The fumigant responsible for the incident, methyl bromide, was banned for structural use many years ago due to extreme health risks. It's also been linked to birth defects. And it was supposed to be completely phased out in the United States in 2005, [ http://www.epa.gov/ozone/mbr/ ] for its role as an ozone depleter, through the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement, according to the EPA. (The Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, US territories, must also abide by the EPA's rulings.) [ http://ozone.unep.org/new_site/en/montreal_protocol.php ]

Yet, millions of pounds of the fumigant continue to be used - in US agriculture. Using methyl bromide on strawberries and other fruit, potting soil, nuts, grains and more, California alone used almost 4 million pounds of methyl bromide in 2012,[ http://calpip.cdpr.ca.gov/main.cfm ] under critical use exemptions and quarantine and pre-shipment exemptions provided by the EPA. [ http://www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/reregistrat ... ide-fs.pdf ]

Acute exposures of families on vacation are sensational, dramatic and rare; exposure to pesticides on the fields and in agricultural communities, however, can be an everyday occurrence. Workers re-entering fields after fumigation may or may not see a warning sign; applications may be caught in a breeze and move toward nearby schools [ http://www.thenation.com/article/203489 ... g-students ] or homes; workers applying the chemicals may not have sufficient training, may not have access to safety equipment and may face the risk of heat illness when wearing the protective gear.

Although the exposures may not always cause seizures or a coma, it may cause other acute reactions, like headaches, dizziness, burning eyes or nausea. And chronic exposures can lead to long-term problems; long-term residence on or near a farm that uses pesticides is linked to early onset of Parkinson's disease. It's also on California's Proposition 65 list, linking exposure to reproductive harm.

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Oscar
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