Spring has sprung and so have the cicadas! Please don't try to eradicate them, as they play a critical ecological role. Learn more about this below.
Along with the cicadas, mosquitoes are making their annual reappearance! Bear with me--this month's opening letter is rather long for good reason. The rest of our newsletter follows!
This mosquito season, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) is replacing its previously used truck-based pesticide Permanone 30-30 with Biomist and Permasease, in response to the Maryland Pesticide Education Network and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility/PEER finding alarming levels of "forever chemicals" PFAS in Permanone 30-30. Permanone, Biomist and Permasease contain the same mosquito-targeting pesticide, Permethrin.
MDA has 2,100 Maryland communities signed up this year for the agency's mosquito control program launching this month, exposing thousands of Maryland adults, children and pets to a questionable pesticide already determined to be a probable endocrine disruptor--and now possibly also contaminated by PFAS. This is of significant concern to us and likely to you!
On March 24, 2021, our two organizations sent a letter to the U.S. EPA and the MDA asking MDA to immediately cease using Permanone 30-30 after lab tests revealed that the tested product contains 3,500 parts per trillion (ppt) of a PFAS chemical. This is 50 times the lifetime exposure limit (70 ppt) recommended by the EPA. More alarming, Dr. Linda Birnbaum, former director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, has noted that our lifetime exposureshould not be more than .1ppt -700 times lower than the EPA's safety threshold. Frightening! To date, it's unclear whether the contamination is from the product's containers or whether it was added to the product as an adjuvant or inert ingredient.
Based on our letter and lab tests, the EPA ordered MDA to cease use of Permanone 30-30. MDA then announced they will replace it with BioMist or Permasease. Without testing these products for PFAS, Marylanders have no assurance that they are not again being exposed to PFAS. While the manufacturers have stated their product is not contaminated, we need testing to be certain.
PFAS are called "forever chemicals" because they do not break down in the environment and they are toxic to humans--associated with cancer, problems in growth, learning, and behavior in infants and children, infertility and pregnancy problems, endocrine disruption, increased cholesterol, immune system problems, and interference with liver, thyroid, and pancreatic function.
PEER has found PFAS in a variety of other pesticide products, which indicates that the container problem is more widespread than we feared or PFAS is deliberately added to some pesticides. Manufacturers do not have to disclose inert ingredients, including adjuvants used to improve product flow. The impact of continued exposure to PFAS could affect hundreds of thousands of Maryland citizens, as well as harming fragile ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay.
Starting this month, MDA is going forward with applying BioMist and Permasease without testing it. We urged MDA to halt its use of any pesticide for mosquito control in the state until properly tested and shown to contain no PFAS, including from an adjuvant or container contamination. In fact, testing is needed for all Maryland registered pesticides annually to ensure they do not also contain any PFAS.
EU top court upholds ban on Bayer pesticides linked to harming bees. The EU Court of Justice dismissed an appeal by Bayer to overturn a lower EU court's 2018 decision to uphold the ban. Read more
Glyphosate-based herbicides, such as RoundUp, activate mechanisms involved in cancer development, including DNA damage. These effects occur at doses currently assumed by regulators to have no adverse effects. Read more
Food guru Mark Bittman warns the rise of uniformity and convenience in food has mostly benefited large companies, fueled societal inequities and ravaged human health and the environment. Read more
Dire scientific findings on pesticides in the oceans: Pesticides and other toxic pollution is compromising the world's oceans, fisheries, and coastal communities while worsening the impacts of climate change and overfishing. Read more
Attract butterflies, a key species for conservation in your garden, here's how: Read more
Neonics harm butterflies: commonly used neonicotinoid pesticides have been found to reduce the number of butterfly eggs that successfully hatch, contributing to the decline of monarchs. Read more
Pesticides and insect immune systems: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School scientists find "potential for large-scale ecological impact" because cancer-causing pesticide glyphosate damages insect immune systems.Read more
Webinar: Cause of Bees Decline, June 17th. Find out what you can do to help these fascinating insectsView details here. And new research finds toxicity more than doubled in 381 pesticides in the USA for pollinators and aquatic invertebrates over the past two decades. Read more
Use your yard to save birds and bugs: Insects are in sharp decline in the Chesapeake region, and right alongside them are the birds. While there are many factors putting these species in danger, their declines are also correlated: most birds feed on insects, so fewer insects means fewer birds: Read more
Sustainable vineyards: When you think of agriculture in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, vineyards might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But as a growing industry with a lot of land to manage, vineyards can be just as important to environmental protection as traditional farms. Read more
New documentary film suggests that the epic force threatening the survival of family farmers is not nature itself, but the corporate control of agriculture. "Percy vs. Goliath" is a cautionary tale. Read more
Farmworkers and pesticide safety: To promote equity, EPA must engage farmworker advocates in the earliest deliberations on new pesticide restrictions. Read more
Soil organisms are being harmed by pesticides: Pesticides are causing widespread damage to tiny creatures that keep soils healthy and underpin all life on land. Researchers found the measured impacts of farm chemicals on earthworms, beetles and other organisms are overwhelmingly negative callingthe findings alarming, given the importance of these unsung heroes. Read more
Please help support our work to protect our babies, bees, and the Bay!