Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Far Reach of Pesticide Contamination

In the past couple days, three articles have caught our eye in the CT NOFA office:

Owner responsibility for private well quality is at heart of contamination issues in state
This article raises some important questions about water quality in Connecticut wells.  As this study in Woodbridge proved pesticide use - even by neighbors, can contaminate wells.  This article shows that Connecticut's health code only requires testing when a well is initially built after that homeowners are "on their own."  It is recommended that homeowners test their wells regularly (but most never test their well water). Based on these findings, a filter might be available that addresses particular contaminants.  Spiegel points out that New Jersey is considered a model for Connecticut on well water quality and monitoring because the state requires that well water is tested each time a house or property is sold.

"Pesticides found in LI Sound lobsters for the first time: more study planned"
Image: Council on Environmental Quality
Enough pesticides have been applied to Connecticut's lawns that these chemicals have run off through Connecticut's rivers, into Long Island Sound, where they were still in a high enough concentration, that traces could be found in the organs of lobsters.  The article, by Jan Ellen Spiegel, explains that it had been thought that lobster die-off was due to rising temperatures in the sound.  But these recent findings might mean that pesticide run-off also might play a role in lobster die-offs.  According to this 2008 New York Times article "Connecticut Lobstermen Hope for a Reprieve, the die-off in the late 1990s was thought to kill 80% of Long Island Sound's lobsters.  The lobster industry brought in just under 12 million pounds a year leading up to 1999 and after that the catch dropped to 2-3 million pounds per year.

Environmental Threats to Children's Health
Image: Autism Speaks Official Blog
This article, by Margie Kelly, explains that the prevalence of childhood diseases is increasing, rapidly.  Child cancer rates are rising, as are developmental disabilities.  Kelly focuses on the prevalence of autism (1 in 88 children are affected by autism, a 23% increase since 2006).  In this video, Dr. Phillip Landrigan discusses the connections between these diseases and phthalates, BPA, flame retardants and pesticides. Dr. Landrigan recommends avoiding the use of pesticides, feeding children organic vegetables, and taking off shoes to decrease the amount of pesticides tracked inside.  Check out these steps to reducing pesticide exposure.

Sorry for the depressing post - but the fact is that people can be exposed to pesticides in food and water, and these chemicals are definitely threatening.  These findings are scary, but they also require continued action.  Consumers can be aware and protect themselves, and that makes a big difference.  Consumers also need to pressure the companies that produce and use these chemicals which are poisonous to animals, people, and the animals that people eat.  

1 comment:

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