The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed to ban all agricultural use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, because of the health risks from contaminated drinking water.
The agency said it would issue a final decision by the end of next year, after taking public comment.
The EPA had already eliminated household uses in home gardens, insect sprays and other products in 2000 — in response to a lawsuit by the Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups — because the chemical damages the developing brains of children.
Veena Singla, a scientist with the health program at NRDC, said, “We’ve known for years that chlorpyrifos is dangerous, and that’s why we sued EPA—to take it off the market. The agency’s announcement today is a huge step in the right direction, but we think there’s enough evidence to ban all its uses now.”
Chlorpyrifos is a toxic chemical sprayed on apples, oranges, broccoli, nuts and scores of other crops.
It’s also used on golf courses.
It is associated with long-lasting neurological damage to children and numerous farmworker poisonings. Farms in the United States disperse more than 5 million pounds of it each year.
EPA’s decision was the outcome of a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice, NRDC and Pesticide Action Network, asking EPA to ban chlorpyrifos.
“This is what we have been seeking for years. EPA’s and other independent findings show that chlorpyrifos causes brain damage to children and poisons workers and bystanders,” said Patti Goldman, the Earthjustice attorney handling the case. “At long last, the agency is signaling its intention to protect children, workers and their families by banning this hazardous pesticide. It is imperative that EPA move quickly to protect workers and children by finalizing this important rule.”
One-in-three Americans lives in the “sneeziest and wheeziest” cities and regions where they are exposed to both ragweed pollen and ozone smog pollution that can worsen respiratory allergies and asthma, according to a new Natural Resources Defense Council report.
NRDC said some 109 million Americans are more likely to suffer itchy eyes, runny noses and sneezing, and may find it hard to breathe. And they become more ill than those exposed to only ragweed or ozone pollution.
The study, “Sneezing and Wheezing: How Climate Change Could Increase Ragweed Allergies, Air Pollution and Asthma,” is among the first to map the intersection of ragweed prevalence and high ozone smog, which can magnify respiratory allergies and asthma.
It carries a dire warning for policymakers and the nation’s leaders: As climate change warms our planet, millions more Americans could become ill with potentially severe respiratory allergies and asthma.
That underscores the need for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to finalize standards to strengthen the health standard for ozone pollution and to slash carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants, which helps create ground-level ozone and fuels climate change. The pollutants that form health-harming ozone smog are emitted from the same fossil fuel burning that produces heat-trapping carbon pollution.
“Americans deserve to breathe clean air, but today millions of us are sneezing and wheezing from allergies and asthma worsened by climate change-fueled ragweed pollen and ozone smog pollution,” said Juan Declet-Barreto, the report’s primary author. “This double-whammy health threat will only intensify, and affect more people, if we don’t take steps to reduce climate change now. For our health and future, the EPA should strengthen the health standard for ozone pollution and set strong limits on power plant carbon pollution.”
“As a pediatrician, I care for the group most vulnerable to the health consequences of climate change-our children, said Dr. Samantha Ahdoot of Alexandria, Virginia. “Children today are already experiencing worsening respiratory and allergic disease due to impacts on air quality and plant pollen production. These impacts are expected to increase as carbon dioxide concentrations and global temperature continue to rise. That’s why we need to take action now to curb harmful pollution so we can have healthier air — reducing allergies and asthma, and ultimately saving lives.”
NRDC’s report finds that 35 major cities where people are exposed to both ragweed pollen and ozone smog. The most vulnerable regions are the Los Angeles Basin, the St. Louis area, the Great Lakes Region, the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast.
Allergies and asthma symptoms associated with ragweed pollen and ozone smog, scientific studies project, are expected to rise if carbon dioxide concentrations keep rising and climate change is unchecked.
With the exception of 1998, the 10 warmest years in the instrumental record (dating to 1880) have all occurred since 2000, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The scientific consensus is that climate change, caused by carbon pollution, is pushing temperatures upward.
This is a health problem because warmer temperatures enhance the reactions that form ozone pollution. Ozone exposures irritate the lungs and can lead to lung inflammation, diminished lung function and worsen asthma symptoms.
With more carbon pollution in the air, ragweed produces more pollen in late summer and fall. In addition, other pollen-producing plants such as birch, oak and pine trees tend to produce pollen earlier in spring and for a longer time, studies show.
An estimated 50 million Americans today have some type of nasal allergy, the NRDC report notes.
NRDC’s report identifies the following cities now faced with both ragweed pollen and ozone pollution, and the associated threats to respiratory health:
1. Richmond, VA
2. Memphis, TN
3. Oklahoma City, OK
4. Philadelphia, PA
5. Chattanooga, TN
6. Chicago, IL
7. Detroit, MI
8. New Haven, CT
9. Allentown, PA
10. Atlanta, GA
11. Pittsburgh, PA
12. Louisville, KY
13. Springfield, MA
14. Milwaukee, WI
15. Dayton, OH
16. Cleveland, OH
17. Toledo, OH
18. Little Rock, AR
19. Bridgeport, CT
20. Akron, OH.
The NRDC recommended the following actions:
> Strengthen the carbon pollution standards.
> Strengthen the unprotective ozone health standard.
> Develop better pollen data collection.
> Add more ozone monitors.
> Provide more information to the public.
The National Resources Defense Council on Jan. 5 filed a federal lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, challenging the agency’s decision to allow the continued use of a toxic pesticide — tetrachlorvinphos — in flea-control products used on pets.
Pesticides like TCVP can harm pets, as well as children’s brains and nervous systems and the EPA already has restricted household use of TCVP’s chemical cousins in the class of pesticides called organophosphates, according to the NRDC. However, the EPA allows neurotoxic TCVP to be used in flea collars for dogs and cats.
“Over five years have passed since we first urged EPA to get these toxic chemical collars off the market for good, but the agency continues to fall back on faulty assessments that don’t reflect the true vulnerability of children,” said NRDC senior scientist Miriam Rotkin-Ellman. “Science shows, time and again, that brain and nervous system-damaging chemicals like TCVP are too harmful to have in our homes, on our pets and around our children.
“NRDC’s lawsuit simply asks the court to send EPA back to do the job it should have done long ago – remove neurotoxic TCVP from our store shelves permanently. EPA’s blatant disregard for protecting our children’s health from toxic flea collars is irresponsible and unacceptable.”
For now, the organization encourages consumers with pets to follow the Green Paws guide for safer options.
In a first of its kind report, the NHL this week says that climate change threatens hockey, a sport that many pros began playing on the frozen ponds and lakes of North America.
“The NHL represents the highest level of hockey in the world,” said Commissioner Gary Bettman. “But before many of our players ever took their first stride on NHL ice, they honed their skills on the frozen lakes and ponds of North America and Europe. Our sport can trace its roots to frozen freshwater ponds, to cold climates. Major environmental challenges, such as climate change and freshwater scarcity, affect opportunities for hockey players of all ages to learn and play the game outdoors.”
“The 2014 NHL Sustainability Report is arguably the most important statement about the environment ever issued by a professional sports league,” said scientist Allen Hershkowitz of the National Resources Defense Council. “The report’s focus on controlling fossil-fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions is a mainstream wake-up call that climate disruption poses an existential threat to everything we hold dear, including sports and recreation.”
The report reviews the numerous programs, benchmarks and successes that have increased the overall sustainability of NHL, its teams and their arenas, and it details the impact of NHL Green, the 4-year-old initiative that involves a partnership with the National Resources Defense Council.
NHL Green was launched to promote green business practices across the league by:
• Reducing the use of natural resources in business operations.
• Tracking and measuring the environmental impact of the sport.
• Inspiring fans and partners to commit to environmental stewardship.
The sustainability report released this week puts the NHL’s carbon footprint at about 530,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year. This comes from operations that include travel and play on 182 game days, with 1,230 regular-season games, more than 60 playoff contests and nearly 2 million miles of team air travel per season. By comparison, annual emissions from the single largest coal power plant in the United States totals 23 million metric tons.
The analysis concludes that the NHL has made progress, but still has much to do to minimize its impact on the environment.
“At the NHL, we recognize that we have great responsibility for the way we conduct our business, and we are uniquely positioned to promote the environmental message,” Bettman said in a news release. “Today, we join many of our business partners who have for years been documenting their emissions and making progress toward their own sustainability goals.”
Hershkowitz, NRDC’s senior scientist in charge of the green sports program, added, “This document is an important reminder to all sports fans, leagues, teams and businesses that while natural hockey ice might be the ‘canary in the coal mine’ when it comes to the effects of climate change on sports, the effects of climate disruption are a challenge to all leagues and businesses, and we must take meaningful action to reverse course.”
He said the single most important thing the NHL can do to address urgent ecological challenges is to help change cultural expectations and attitudes about how humans relate to the planet. There are 68 million NHL fans in North America, and the league’s total social media audience, not including individual team sites, exceeds 10 million followers.
The report is at nhl.com/green/report.
“The routine of my daily life as a kid was pretty simple. One way or another, it always seemed to lead me in the direction of a body of water, regardless of the time of year. The only question was whether the water would be frozen solid for hockey or open and flowing for fish.” — legendary hockey player Bobby Orr
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