Tag Archives: environmental protection agency

Urge EPA to rethink toxic chemical after scientists say it can’t be managed

“Adequate control of human exposure would be difficult, if not impossible.”

-CA Scientific Review Committee

This is the time of year many talk about United Farm Workers’ founder Cesar Chavez. Cesar was many things, among them he was a strong voice on pesticides.  

PhotobucketCesar Chavez said, “In the old days, miners would carry birds with them to warn against poison gas. Hopefully, the birds would die before the miners. Farm workers are society’s canaries. Farm workers-and their children-demonstrate the effects of pesticide poisoning before anyone else…There is no acceptable level of exposure to any chemical that causes cancer. There can be no toleration of any toxic that causes miscarriages, still births, and deformed babies.”

As you celebrate his legacy, add your voice to continue Cesar’s fight.

Cesar’s UFW is currently working on a campaign that is critical for farm workers health and safety. We are working together with a coalition of environmental and farm worker groups to try to get the EPA to re-review the toxic pesticide methyl Iodide.  

Science has proven that methyl iodide is a water contaminant, nervous system poison, thyroid toxicant and carcinogen. In other words, it’s a toxic poison that should not be used near where people live.

Despite this, the Bush Administration’s EPA registered methyl iodide nationally in 2007–automatically permitting this toxin for use in a number of states. Other states like California have their own state regulations and are still deciding whether to allow it to be used.

However, there is finally hope to pull this toxic poison off the market. On September 25, 2009, U.S. EPA publicly agreed to reopen its decision on methyl iodide, pending results of the California Department of Pesticide’s Scientific Review Committee, comprised of scientists from across the country.

The Panel’s data is in.

Their report: this pesticide is toxic and harmful. “Adequate control of human exposure would be difficult, if not impossible.”

In addition their report raised serious questions about the scientific accuracy of the federal review that was done under the Bush Administration.

Difficult if not impossible to control–yet this carcinogenic chemical is being used in North Carolina, Florida and fields across the country right now.

This has to stop. Help us hold EPA to their promise to follow the science on methyl iodide. Sign the petition today!

Help Protect Children From Toxic Pesticides

Luis Medellin and his three little sisters, aged 5, 9 and 12, live in the middle of an orange grove in Lindsay, CA–a small farming town in the Central Valley. pesticide driftDuring the growing season, Luis and his sisters are awakened several times a week by the sickly smell of nighttime pesticide spraying. What follows is worse: searing headaches, nausea, vomiting.

The Medellin family’s story is not unique. From apple orchards in Washington to potato fields in Florida, drifting poisonous pesticides plague the people who live nearby–posing a particular risk to the young children of the nation’s farm workers, many of whom live in industry housing at the field’s edge.

This situation also often exists in schools in agricultural areas where it’s not uncommon to have a school next to a field.

Nov. 7, 2009 – Salinas Californian:

Salinas Valley schools perched near pesticide-sprayed farmland

“When schools use pesticides on campus, they post a warning a day before. But when acres of farmland next to classrooms are sprayed with industrial-grade chemicals, often no sign goes up.”

Gonzales resident Aurora Valdez said she’s fearful pesticides sprayed near Gonzales High School, where her kids attend classes, will harm her teenage sons. She said she often prays to the Virgin of Guadalupe to keep her sons from experiencing what she said her husband, Francisco, went through 12 years ago after being exposed to pesticides. “I worry constantly about pesticides,” Valdez said.

That’s why the UFW, Earth Justice, Farm Worker Justice and a coalition of environmental groups petitioned the government to set safety standards protecting children who grow up near farms from the harmful effects of pesticide drift–the toxic spray or vapor that travels from treated fields. We’re also asking officials to immediately adopt no-spray buffer zones around homes, schools, parks and daycare centers for the most dangerous and drift-prone pesticides.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has taken the first step in addressing this problem–opening up the petition for public comment. It’s a promising sign.

Environmental News Service:

EPA Proposes Labeling to Control Pesticide Drift, Evaluates Petition

November 4, 2009 (ENS) – Pesticide labeling to reduce off-target spray and dust drift was proposed today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The new instructions are aimed at improving the clarity and consistency of pesticide labels and help prevent harm from spray drift, the toxic spray or vapor that travels from treated agricultural fields and into neighboring communities.

The agency is also requesting comment on a citizens’ petition to evaluate children’s exposure to pesticide drift.

The agency’s leadership needs to hear that you think they’re on the right track. Because they’ll surely be getting an earful from the pesticide industry telling them to keep the status quo. In fact, industry interests like Monsanto and CropLife have already started weighing in.

If we want EPA to do the right thing and put immediate pesticide buffers in place around homes, schools, daycare centers and playgrounds, we need to push back. Please help.

In the past, the EPA has not made this issue a priority–ignoring a law Congress passed that requires the agency to protect children from all exposures to pesticide, including pesticide drift. The agency is already three years overdue in setting safety standards that protect children from drift. But there is new hope with the Obama administration. Will you please send your e-mail today and add your voice to those calling for a change?

Thank you!    

TAKE ACTION: Chemical industry urges CA gov to ignore science & approve toxic pesticide methyl iodi


The highly toxic, mutagenic, new pesticide methyl iodide is currently being given a comprehensive review by the Department of Pesticide Regulations and the agency’s registration decision is pending advice from a panel of scientists convened specifically to review this chemical.

However, according to inside sources, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is being pressured by corporate interests to fast-track registration of this toxic pesticide–despite serious concerns from the state’s own scientists at the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR).

Take action:

“Methyl iodide is so toxic that scientists working with it in the laboratory take extreme precautions when handling it, using a ventilation hood, gloves, and special equipment for transferring it so it does not escape to the air,” notes Dr. Susan Kegley. “This degree of protection is not possible in an agricultural setting where the pesticide would be applied at rates of 175 pounds per acre in the open air. Buffer zones of 400 feet for a 40-acre fumigation would still result in a dose of methyl iodide to neighbors that is 375 times higher than DPR believes is acceptable. For workers, the numbers are much worse, with exposures estimated at 3,000 times higher than DPR’s acceptable dose for some tasks.”

Methyl iodide’s manufacturer, Arysta, withdrew its New York application for registration after state officials raised concerns about groundwater contamination and potential exposure for workers, bystanders and nearby residents–especially children, pregnant women and the elderly.

Now the industry is asking California’s governor to order DPR to fast track the registration of this deadly fumigant. This is not acceptable. Please take action and tell the Governor to keep methyl iodide of California’s fields.

Take action:

Aftermath of Southern California Wild Fires: False Promises and Lies?

This morning, I once again awoke indoors in Beaumont, CA with a scratchy throat and stuffy nose.  We are miles away from any fire devastation yet are feeling the consequences.  ‘Snow’ floats down onto housing tracts and farms from Los Angeles to Phoenix.  An orange sky stretches seemingly forever north, south, east and west of Beaumont and the Inland Empire.  At first it reminded me of the Southern California fire storm that hit a few years ago after my partner and I moved to CA.

Then, I remembered that those fires reminded me of the environmental consequences of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  You have the odors that are unexpected and ill-defined.  You have the constant particulate matter in the air.  And you have difficulty breathing and shortly will have Bush, the Bush Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, a Republican Governor, and Republican local officials lying to the affected citizenry.

More below the flip…

During the days, weeks, months, and even years following the terrorist attacks, Bush and his cronies lied constantly to the people of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.  Christine Todd Whitman, former Governor of New Jersey, and EPA Director under Bush, came repeatedly to New York to assure that there was no deleterious effects from the fallout.  Gov. George Pataki, R-NY and Mayor Rudy Guiliani, R-NY chimed in similarly.  As the New York-area firefighters and other workers at Ground Zero now know, these people were Liars, Liars, and Liars.

The Federal Government has the responsibilty through Executive Order and Congressional mandate that U.S. citizens and residents be protected during a National Disaster.

In 1970, a U.S. Senate report on Section 303 of the Clean Air Act stated:

“The levels of concentration of air pollution agents or combination of agents which substantially endanger health are levels which should never be reached in any community. When the prediction can reasonably be made that such elevated levels could be reached even for a short period of time-that is that they are imminent-an emergency action plan should be implemented.”

In 1972, the Clean Water Act extended the scope of the National Contingency Plan:

“With the passage of the Clean Water Act of 1972, the scope of the National Contingency Plan (NCP) is extended to cover hazardous substance releases in addition to oil spills.”

In February 1988, the Emergeny Planning and Community-Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA) stated:

“A final rule is issued on the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).  The rule states a “community right-to-know” public notification must be issued whenever there is a spill of any carcinogen in concentrations over 0.1 percent.”

In 1992, The Federal Response Plan (FRP) is finalized and becomes Public Law 93-288.  The FRP provides”

“a process and structure for the systematic, coordinated, and effective delivery of Federal assistance to address the consequences of any major disaster or emergency declared under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.”

The FRP can be enacted by the President in times of emergency.  Once invoked, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) coordinates the efforts of any Emergency Support Functions (ESF) involved.  In the event of a hazardous materials release, the EPA is charged with overseeing the federal government’s response.  The Federal Response Team (FRT) and Regional Response Teams (RRTs) are charged with

“carry[ing] out their duties and responsibilities as put forth in the NCP [National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan] (see 1972) and agency implementing procedures.”

Given the loss of 1,700 or more homes, businesses, and other structures, the destruction of countless vehicles and storage containers, and the burning of about 500,000 acres of Southern California, I wonder how much hazardous material has been released into the air over Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada?  During the Santa Anas of Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, October 21 – 24, 2007, the prevailing winds pushed a significant amount of the pollutants several hundred miles out over the Pacific Ocean.  Since the Santa Anas ceased, the prevailing wind currents have pushed the pollutants back ashore, across the San Diego and Los Angeles basins through Orange, Ventura, Imperial, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties and into Arizona and Nevada.  Apparently, the pollutants have even extended as far north as Silicon Valley.  Residents of Southern California are cautioned to stay indoors, to avoid exercise outdoors, and to wear masks outdoors.

Given the evisceration of the Environmental Protection Agency under Bush and his business cronies, I wonder to what extent, the EPA will be in the forefront to protect the health and lives of millions of people.  Given the history of lies from the Bush Administration and their incompetent and avaricious minions, I doubt that we can trust them at all in this arena.

Take Action: Stop toxic methyl iodide from being used in California

(Nice action diary from the United Farm Workers. – promoted by Julia Rosen)

E-mail CA officials today!

A little over a week ago, the EPA approved the use of methyl iodide–a dangerous toxic, mutagenic pesticide. The EPA is refusing to listen to us and the dozens of prominent scientists who have repeatedly pointed out the dangers associated with this pesticide.

California is one of the largest users of fumigant pesticides. The state must give a separate approval to methyl iodide before this toxic chemical can be used. We asking for your immediate help to encourage California authorities to do the right thing and refuse approval of this deadly compound.


By sending an e-mail today, you can help protect the tens of thousands of farmworkers who work and live in California along with consumers who eat the California-grown produce.

There is still time to pressure the CA Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). The California’s state review of methyl iodide isn’t scheduled to be completed until late 2008. Up until this point, DPR has been cautious about use of this pesticide. A February 2006 letter that the California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) submitted to the EPA expressed serious reservations about the chemical’s high toxicity and the potential harm it posed to “workers and bystanders, as well as residents living near treated fields.” However, it’s very important that you give DPR immediate feedback, in order to let officials know you are watching their actions in light of the EPA’s disastrous decision. 


As an October 11, Sacramento Bee editorial, entitled “New danger in the fields – State should keep methyl iodide out” points out, “While [methyl iodide] does not damage the ozone, methyl iodide is more acutely toxic than methyl bromide. It is so dangerous that chemists who handle tiny amounts of it in laboratory settings must first don protective hoods and double gloves and use specially sealed bottles and syringes to ensure none of the chemical escapes…The EPA ignored objections raised by 52 eminent scientists, including five Nobel Laureates for chemistry, who signed a letter last month advising the EPA not to register methyl iodide. ‘As scientists and physicians familiar with this chemical,’ they wrote, ‘we are concerned that pregnant women and the fetus, children, the elderly, farmworkers and other people living near application sites would be at serious risk if methyl iodide is permitted in agriculture.'” (For background information, click here to see last weeks’ UFW alert to the EPA)

Please E-mail Mary-Ann Warmerdam, Director of the Department of Pesticide Regulation TODAY and tell the DPR to protect the public and the environment by not allowing this pesticide to be used.


Sacramento Bee editorial

Letter to EPA by scientists