TEDX conducts brief interviews with leading experts to get answers about health threats posed by unconventional oil and gas operations.
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Fracking and Health : Ask an Expert – with Dusty Horwitt
Fracking and Health : Ask an Expert – with Dusty Horwitt
Application of Systematic Review Methods in an Overall Strategy for Evaluating Low-Dose Toxicity from Endocrine Active Chemicals
A new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine proposes a strategy that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should use to evaluate the evidence of adverse human health effects from low doses of exposure to chemicals that can disrupt the endocrine system.
The report’s proposed strategy has three broad steps that can help evaluate evidence of impacts from low-dose chemical exposure:
UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, 2017
The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE)’s mission is to create a healthier environment for human reproduction and development through advancing scientific inquiry, clinical care and health policies that prevent exposures to harmful chemicals in our environment.
PRHE is housed within the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, in the UCSF School of Medicine, one of the nation’s most prestigious medical schools. The Department is renowned for promoting cutting-edge reproductive science research, extending the frontiers of multidisciplinary women’s health care and professional education, advocating for women’s health at local, state and national levels, and engaging community involvement.
EPA says chemical neonicotinoids can harm bee colonies in certain situations
The Environmental Protection Agency said today in a “pollinator risk assessment” that imidacloprid, a popular neonicotinoid pesticide, poses a significant risk to honeybees — but it failed to examine risks to nearly 4,000 North American native bees and all other pollinators, including imperiled butterflies, bats and birds.
” You can’t claim to do a ‘pollinator risk assessment’ and really only look at one pollinator, the honeybee,that’s not only cheating on the purpose of this work but also cheating the native bees, birds, butterflies and other species threatened by this pesticide. In fact, many of these other pollinators are even more vulnerable to neonicotinoids than honeybees. ”
said Lori Ann Burd, Environmental Health director at the Center for Biological Diversity “
Today’s analysis indicates that for some crop uses, honeybees can be exposed to imidacloprid at concentrations that negatively affect the health of the hive. But a recent Nature study found that wild bees are more sensitive to the acute toxic effects of neonicotinoids — specifically that neonicotinoid seed coatings reduce wild bee density, solitary bee nesting and bumblebee colony growth. The EPA did acknowledge that bumblebees are affected by the pesticide at much lower levels than honeybees, but it nonetheless failed to properly assess the risk.
Continue reading EPA Concludes Neonicotinoids Pose Risk to Bees, Fails to Analyze Other Pollinators, biologicaldiversity, January 6, 2016.
WSJ press release:EPA Says Insecticide May Pose Risk to Bees, Jan. 6, 2016.
Drugging the Environment…
Klaus Kümmerer, Director of the Institute of Sustainable and Environmental Chemistry, Lüneburg, says:
” Pharmaceuticals are ubiquitous in wastewater, deposited primarily from human urine and feces. The active ingredients from leftover pills thrown in patients’ trash or even hospital waste also find their way to waterways, but the contribution of those sources pales in comparison to the share “from all of us,”
Rebecca Klaper, Professor, School of Freshwater Sciences, says:
” Sewage treatment plants remove some pharmaceuticals from water during basic filtering processes, but many pass through unhindered. Metformin, for example, is stable against common water treatments such as UV light irradiation. And at this point, it is prohibitively expensive to add technologies that can filter out these chemicals. “
Kathryn Arnold, an ecologist at the University of York in the U.K., where there are also no regulations for pharmaceuticals in water, says:
” From sewage plants and landfills, drugs make their way into streams, rivers, lakes, seawater, and even into drinking water. Currently, however, the EPA does not regulate even a single human pharmaceutical in drinking water. An EPA list of pollutants that may make water unsafe, but are not regulated, includes eight hormones and one antibiotic. Metformin is not on the list. Legislation is not protecting ecosystems at the moment. ”
Read Drugging the Environment, The Scientist, articleNo/43615, August 1, 2015.
EPA is releasing an assessment for public comment on the potential for human health risk of the pesticide chlorpyrifos
The US Environmental Protection Agency EPA is releasing an assessment of people’s risks from the pesticide chlorpyrifos for public comment. The assessment updates the June 2011 preliminary human health risk assessment based on new information including public comments. EPA factored in exposures from multiple sources and considered all populations in this revised assessment. The public comment period is expected to begin in mid-January, 2015 and will be open for 60 days.
This assessment shows some risks to workers who mix, load and apply chlorpyrifos pesticide products. When used in large amounts in small watersheds in certain geographic areas, chlorpyrifos also shows potential risks from drinking water. There were no additional risks from chlorpyrifos in food or exposure to bystanders and workers from airborne chlorpyrifos.
EPA is developing appropriate measures to ensure that workers that use or work around areas treated with chlorpyrifos are protected and that drinking water in vulnerable watersheds is protected.
As part of the ongoing registration review for chlorpyrifos, EPA is also assessing the ecological risks from chlorpyrifos in conjunction with the agency’s Endangered Species Protection Program; the results of the preliminary ecological risk assessment are expected later in 2015.
Chlorpyrifos remains registered while it is undergoing registration review. Registration review ensures pesticides will not cause unreasonable adverse effects when used according to label directions and precautions and that there is a reasonable certainty of no harm from dietary and residential exposure. This revised human health risk assessment contributes to understanding how chlorpyrifos may affect humans, an important part of the registration review process.
EPA assessed exposure from multiple sources including those from food, drinking water, pesticide inhalation and absorption of the pesticide through the skin for all populations, including infants, children and women of childbearing age. The assessment updates the June 2011 preliminary human health risk assessment based on new information received, including public comments and a new human response model.
This is one of the first risk assessments to employ a physiologically-based pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic (PBPK/PD) model. This is a mathematical model that enhances our ability to assess risk by allowing us to consider variations in a chemical’s effects on a person based on such variables as age and genetics and allows us to predict how the same dose may affect various members of a large population differently. EPA has held several meetings of the FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panels to get independent advice on the relevance and usefulness that a PBPK/PD model can provide in assessing a chemical’s risks and one specifically on PBPK/PD and chlorpyrifos.
Yes, EPA did retain the 10x factor for this risk assessment. EPA believes that the PBPK-PD model in conjunction with retention of the FQPA 10x safety factor is protective of children and other vulnerable populations.
We are concerned about some workers who mix, load and apply chlorpyrifos to agricultural and other non-residential sites. We are also concerned about workers who work around areas that are treated with chlorpyrifos, even if they are not using chlorpyrifos products as part of their jobs.
At high enough doses chlorpyrifos can cause cholinesterase inhibition in humans; that is, it can impact the nervous system causing nausea, dizziness, confusion, and at very high exposures (e.g., accidents or major spills), respiratory paralysis and death. Anyone who exhibits these symptoms should seek immediate help from a local hospital, physician, or nearest poison control center.
Yes, and EPA has taken actions to help protect wildlife from chlorpyrifos exposure.
For example, many of the reported incidents of wildlife mortality associated with chlorpyrifos use were related to residential lawn and termite uses and use on golf courses. The residential uses have been eliminated, termiticide uses have been restricted, and the application rate on golf courses has been reduced. Additionally, no-spray buffers around surface water bodies, as well as rate reductions for agricultural uses further reduced the environmental burden of chlorpyrifos.
The agency is currently assessing the ecological risks for chlorpyrifos in conjunction with the agency’s Endangered Species Protection Program; the results of the preliminary ecological risk assessment are expected later in 2015.
The EPA has taken a number of actions that have limited the use of chlorpyrifos since 2000. These actions include:
Nanomaterials have proliferated in food and other consumer products with little to no oversight
There are now over 400 consumer products on the market made with nanosilver. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers silver nanoparticles a pesticide and requires products that contain – or are treated with this germ- killer – to be registered with and approved for use by the agency. But most of the nanomaterials products now on the market have not been reviewed, let alone approved by the EPA.
Two weeks ago, in an attempt to close this loophole, the Center for Food Safety, the Center for Environmental Health, Clean Production Action, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and other nonprofits filed suit against the EPA for failing to respond to their 2008 petition, asking the agency to regulate all products created with nanotechnology as pesticides.
Pesticide risk assessments seen as biased, experts advise
A September 2014 press release revealed that a team of ecotoxicologists from AIBS examined how the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency’s) carried out their evaluations on pesticide safety. The group argued that the agency’s current practices are inadequate and biased, which could potentially jeopardize the environment and the health of both humans and animals…
Pesticide use results in the widespread distribution of chemical contaminants, which necessites regulatory agencies to assess the risks to environmental and human health. However, risk assessment is compromised when relatively few studies are used to determine impacts, particularly if most of the data used in an assessment are produced by a pesticide’s manufacturer, which constitutes a conflict of interest.
Here, we present the shortcomings of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s pesticide risk assessment process, using the recent reassessment of atrazine’s impacts on amphibians as an example. We then offer solutions to improve the risk assessment process, which would reduce the potential for and perception of bias in a process that is crucial for environmental and human health.