Pesticides Levels Threaten California Neighborhoods

pesticides_present_in_california_neighborhoodsVery toxic pesticides have been detected in three high-risk communities in California by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR).

The DPR detected high levels of the very toxic chlorpyrifos in about 30 percent of the air tests conducted at the communities, which are surrounded by what eNews Park Forest described as “intensive agriculture.” The finding among the 2012 results from the DPR‘s air-monitoring network (AMN) that sampled Ripon, Salinas, and Shafter, in Kern County. California has been conducting tests on air particles from 33 pesticides, including methyl bromide, as well as breakdown products. The state is also measuring results against established DPR screening levels, according to eNews Park Forest.

Although California feels the levels are at an acceptable risks, critics disagree, saying that the sampling does not represent peak agricultural exposures and are not confident that any air toxin level is acceptable, according to eNews Park Forest. This, they note, is especially true given that there are alternative agricultural practices that do not utilize toxins and chemicals. In fact, the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) doubts DPR’s results which assert that the levels pose no safety issue.

PAN monitors airborne pesticide residues with a so-called “drift catcher” device and says the levels are placing children at risk and indicated that it believes DPR sampling does not accurately reflect true agricultural exposures, both during and following the pesticide application, according to eNews Park Forest. “DPR sampled in a systematic but not targeted manner, with samples being taken once per week for 12 months,” PAN staff scientist Emily Marquez told eNews Park Forest. “The most important time to monitor is during the times of peak use.”

A 2010 PAN report  revealed that fumigant pesticides, such as chloropicrin, contaminated nearly 50 percent of 57 air samples collected; average levels of exposure over the 19-day period were at 23 -151 times higher than acceptable cancer risk levels, according to eNews Park Forest. Fumigants, which are sometimes carcinogenic, are very volatile compounds that easily drift, posting significant risk to humans. The most frequently detected pesticides, seen 28 percent of the time at all three locations, were chlorpyrifos and MITC

We previously wrote that a study suggested a link between Parkinson’s disease and pesticide exposure. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, degenerative central nervous system disorder that typically affects motor skills and speech, among other functions and, while not fatal, complications can be deadly. The cause is unknown and there is no cure. The study found that ongoing exposure to pesticides, weed killers, and solvents, may raise risks for developing Parkinson’s disease; the researchers cited paraquat, a weed killer, or maneb and mancozeb, fungicides, as doubling risks for the disease.

We also previously wrote that increased risks for Parkinson’s disease were linked to some solvents in another study published in the Annals of Neurology. Researchers found that exposure to trichloroethylene (TCE) was associated with a significantly increased risk and saw a trend for significance for exposure to the chemicals perchloroethylene (PERC) and carbon tetrachloride (CCl4).

The agricultural pesticide paraquat has been linked to Parkinson’s, posing a risk to workers who toil in fields where the pesticide is sprayed and to people living near fields. Other research revealed that people exposed at their workplaces to ziram, maneb, and paraquat tripled their risk of Parkinson’s; workplace exposure to both ziram and paraquat nearly doubled Parkinson’s risk; and people who worked with either paraquat or the pesticide rotenone were 2.5 times likelier to develop Parkinson’s disease.

Another study found an association with glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, and Parkinson’s disease and Parkinson’s-related brain disorders. According to a report from the Organic Authority, Roundup is the best-selling pesticide in the world and is the companion chemical application to many of the company’s genetically modified seeds including corn, soy, canola, and cotton.

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