Children exposed to a weedkiller commonly used in farming, as well as on residential yards and school playgrounds, appear to be at increased risk for liver inflammation and metabolic disorders in young adulthood and more serious diseases later in life, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
The paper was authored by 12 California scientists and health researchers – most from the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health – and is the latest of many studies linking glyphosate herbicide to human health problems.
Glyphosate is better known as the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup products as well as scores of other weedkilling brands sold around the world. The chemical is considered the most widely used herbicide in history, and residues are commonly present in food and water, as well as in human urine. The chemical is so pervasive that government researchers have documented it in rainfall.Read More
Mike DeWine, the Ohio governor, recently lamented the toll taken on the residents of East Palestine after the toxic train derailment there, saying “no other community should have to go through this”.
But such accidents are happening with striking regularity. A Guardian analysis of data collected by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and by non-profit groups that track chemical accidents in the US shows that accidental releases – be they through train derailments, truck crashes, pipeline ruptures or industrial plant leaks and spills – are happening consistently across the country.
By one estimate these incidents are occurring, on average, every two days.
“These kinds of hidden disasters happen far too frequently,” Mathy Stanislaus, who served as assistant administrator of the EPA’s office of land and emergency management during the Obama administration, told the Guardian. Stanislaus led programs focused on the cleanup of contaminated hazardous waste sites, chemical plant safety, oil spill prevention and emergency response.Read More
Growing plastic pollution not only poses a threat to wildlife and the environment, but increasingly also to human health due to pervasive microscopic plastic particles that people are ingesting through their diet, according to a research report released Monday.
These microplastics appear to be contributing to fertility problems and poor respiratory health, and to induce biological changes that can lead to cancer in the digestive track, according to the findings.
Microplastics – generally defined as particles smaller than 5 mm (5,000 microns) – result from the breakdown of larger plastic products as well as from the manufacture of miniscule plastics used in cosmetics, industrial cleaners and other products. Most first-generation plastics are made from fossil fuels.
Though there is little research on the human health impacts of microplastics, human exposure has been well documented in recent years. Microplastics have been found in stool samples of people around the world as well as in blood samples and in human lungs.
“There is an urgency to this,” said Tracey Woodruff, professor and director of the University of California San Francisco’s Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE), which helped lead the review of nearly 2,000 studies that formed the basis for the new report.Read More
In President Biden’s state of the union address Tuesday night, he pledged his devotion to a fierce “fight against cancer,” invoking a heart-tugging story of baby “Ava,” who began battling kidney cancer at the age of 1.
Biden spoke of a reignited “Cancer Moonshot” search for a cure for cancers that are impacting far too many lives, and of measures to cut healthcare costs to make treating cancer more affordable. He outlined an ambitious goal to cut cancer death rates by at least 50% in the next 25 years, and to “turn more cancers from death sentences to treatable diseases, provide more support for patients and their families.”
But nowhere in his lengthy prime-time address did Biden speak of working to rein in the vast, virtually unchecked, flood of environmental chemical contaminants that scientists say cause cancer.
A new book scheduled for release in May written by journalist Kristina Marusic lays out in stark terms how already-staggeringly highly rates of cancer are sure to continue to climb if we don’t slash our exposure to the chemicals known to cause cancer.Read More
New research by top US government scientists has found that people exposed to the widely used weedkilling chemical glyphosate have biomarkers in their urine linked to the development of cancer and other diseases.
The study, published last week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, measured glyphosate levels in the urine of farmers and other study participants and determined that high levels of the pesticide were associated with signs of a reaction in the body called oxidative stress, a condition that causes damage to DNA.
Oxidative stress is considered by health experts as a key characteristic of carcinogens.
The authors of the paper – 10 scientists with the National Institutes of Health and two from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – concluded that their study “contributes to the weight of evidence supporting an association between glyphosate exposure and oxidative stress in humans”.
They also noted that “accumulating evidence supports the role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of hematologic cancers”, such as lymphoma, myeloma and leukemia.
“Oxidative stress is not something you want to have,” said Linda Birnbaum, a toxicologist and former director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences. “This study increases our understanding that glyphosate has the potential to cause cancer.”Read More
US officials said Friday that they are moving to strengthen a key air quality standard, acknowledging a wealth of scientific evidence that demonstrates the dire health dangers posed by air pollution – and the lack of adequate protection provided by current US standards.
Promising “transformative” change, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan announced an agency proposal that would tighten the current air quality standard for what is commonly referred to as PM2.5, defined as fine particulate matter that is less than or equal to 2.5 micrometers (mm) in diameter.
The agency proposal falls woefully short of recommendations by the World Health Organization, and some critics expressed disappointment in the effort. But other observers applauded the move.
“All decreases are good and will have health benefits,” said Scott Weichenthal, a researcher at McGill University in Canada who specializes in evaluating environmental risk factors for chronic diseases. “Larger decreases are better but there are practical realities that the EPA has to consider, and this is a move in the right direction.”
People are exposed to these harmful fine particles, known simply as soot, through a variety of common sources, including industrial emissions, vehicle exhaust and wildfire smoke. Soot exposure is known to contribute to a range of health problems, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. The fine particulate matter can penetrate a person’s lungs and move into the blood stream, impacting other organs. Lower-income communities and people of color are seen at particular risk.Read More
For decades, the Swiss chemical giant Syngenta has manufactured and marketed a widely used weedkilling chemical called paraquat, and for much of that time the company has been dealing with external concerns that long-term exposure to the chemical may be a cause of the incurable brain ailment known as Parkinson’s disease.
Syngenta has repeatedly told customers and regulators that scientific research does not prove a connection between its weedkiller and the disease, insisting that the chemical does not readily cross the blood-brain barrier, and does not affect brain cells in ways that cause Parkinson’s.
But a cache of internal corporate documents dating back to the 1950s reviewed by the Guardian suggests that the public narrative put forward by Syngenta and the corporate entities that preceded it has at times contradicted the company’s own research and knowledge.
And though the documents reviewed do not show that Syngenta’s scientists and executives accepted and believed that paraquat can cause Parkinson’s, they do show a corporate focus on strategies to protect product sales, refute external scientific research and influence regulators.
In one defensive tactic, the documents indicate that the company worked behind the scenes to try to keep a highly regarded scientist from sitting on an advisory panel for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency is the chief US regulator for paraquat and other pesticides. Company officials wanted to make sure the efforts could not be traced back to Syngenta, the documents show.
And the documents show that insiders feared they could face legal liability for long-term, chronic effects of paraquat as long ago as 1975. One company scientist called the situation “a quite terrible problem” for which “some plan could be made”.Read More
Cancer has taken an unrelenting toll on 72-year-old Mike Langford. After being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in 2007 he suffered through five recurrences despite multiple rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. Now he struggles with chemo-related neuropathy in his arms and legs, and new tests show the cancer is back.
Langford blames his cancer on his longtime use of the popular weed-killing product Roundup, which he applied countless times over decades using a backpack sprayer around his five-acre California property and a vacation lake home. He alleges in a lawsuit that Monsanto, the longtime Roundup maker now owned by the German company Bayer AG, should have warned of a cancer risk.
Last month, a San Francisco judge ruled that Langford’s health is so poor that he is entitled to a speedy hearing of his claims. A trial is set for 7 November in San Francisco county superior court.
“I’ve had it so long. I’m very angry,” Langford told the Guardian a day after doctors biopsied an enlarged lymph node. “The future doesn’t look too terribly promising,” he said, trying to hold back tears. He learned last week that the preliminary biopsy results show a return of NHL.Read More
More than 80% of urine samples drawn from children and adults in a US health study contained a weedkilling chemical linked to cancer, a finding scientists have called “disturbing” and “concerning”.
The report by a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that out of 2,310 urine samples, taken from a group of Americans intended to be representative of the US population, 1,885 were laced with detectable traces of glyphosate. This is the active ingredient in herbicides sold around the world, including the widely used Roundup brand. Almost a third of the participants were children ranging from six to 18.Read More
Tensions are high in Kansas, where a ballot initiative could undo state protection for abortion rights.
Even before the Supreme Court decision on Friday that overturned Roe v. Wade, Kansas had become a haven for women seeking abortions from surrounding states where the procedure was severely restricted or outlawed. But that could soon change. A ballot initiative slated for an Aug. 2 primary vote would strip away that protection by amending the state’s Constitution with a provision titled “The Value Them Both Amendment.”
Kansas currently has five clinics that provide abortion services, which have drawn patients from Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri, according to Emily Wales, the president of Planned Parenthood Great Plains.
On Saturday, abortion rights protesters gathered at a clinic in Overland Park, Kan., armed with signs, microphones and loudspeakers, to show their support for the women making their way to the clinic doors. Close by, abortion protesters took up their positions, chanting Bible verses and begging women not to “murder your baby.”Read More