Millions of people rely on EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce to reduce their exposure to toxic synthetic pesticides used on fruits and vegetables. The alternative is buy organic.
Testing in suburban California neighborhoods revealed methyl bromide in the air well beyond state mandated “buffer” zones at 12 out of 16 locations tested. The levels detected ranged from less than 1 part per billion to 294 parts per billion (ppb) on average over 12 to 24 hours. Single point measurements were as high as 1,900 ppb. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has estab- lished rules that allow individuals, including pregnant women and children, to be exposed to an average of 210 ppb of methyl bromide in the air over a 24 hour period as a result of agricultural application. Methyl bromide is known to cause birth defects (CCR 1994, OEHHA 1993) and is extremely toxic to the nervous sys- tem (CDPR 1995a, Pease 1996).
On August 3,1996, President Clinton signed the Food Quality Protection Act,fundamen tally improving the way that pesticides are regulated in food. The bill passed the House of Representatives on July 23, 1996, by a vote of 417 - 0. It cleared the Senate on July 24, 1996, by unanimous consent.
Testing of air in two California neighborhoods adjacent to agricultural fields receiving applications of the soil fumigant methyl bromide revealed high levels of this extremely toxic pesticide outside state mandated buffer zones. Buffer zones are recommended based on the size of the field and the rate of methyl bromide application and are intended to protect the public from exposure to unsafe levels methyl bromide. Air monitoring was conducted using a state-of-the-art remote sensing device, the open-path FTIR. This system is approved by the US EPA to monitor toxic gas emissions and to measure air pollution releases from factories and refineries. It is recognized as superior to testing methods used by the state of California for monitoring pesticide gases like methyl bromide.
Pesticide companies, agribusiness, food corporations, and farm groups strongly support the passage of H.R. 1627 and S. 1166, the House and Senate versions of the so-called Food Quality Protection Act, which would implement an across-the-board rollback of current federal safeguards that protect the public from pesticides in the environment and the food supply.Read More
In 1993, fourteen people were made ill from routine application of methyl bromide in strawberry fields adjacent to subdivisions in Castroville, California. In 1995, residents of this same subdivision were poisoned again, after methyl bromide was applied to the same fields. In both cases, injury occurred even though all required actions to reduce human exposure to methyl bromide were employed. Since 1985 more than 1,600 Californians have been poisoned and hundreds more evacuated from schools and homes due to methyl bromide exposure (Brodberg et al. 1992). Methyl bromide is an extremely toxic pesticide, heavily used in the production of strawberries, flowers, and other high value specialty crops. It is applied as a gas, and naturally drifts into the surrounding community.Read More
Nitrate in drinking water at levels greater than the Federal standard of 10 parts per million (ppm) can cause methemoglobinemia, a potentially fatal condition in infants commonly known as blue-baby syndrome. According to Dr. Burton Kross, of the University of Iowa's Center For International Rural and Environmental Health, nitrate poisoning via drinking water contamination "certainly contributes to national infant death rate statistics" (Johnson and Kross 1990). Agriculture is the primary source of nitrate contamination.Read More
Beginning on May 15, 1995, a network of environmental organizations began testing tap water for weed killers in cities across the U.S. Corn Belt, in Louisiana, and in Maryland. Samples were collected every three days from people's homes or offices. Samples collected were sent to the Iowa State Hygienic Lab and analyzed for the presence of atrazine and cyanazine, two of the most heavily used pesticides in all of the United States. The results of these tests reveal widespread contamination of tap water with many different pesticides at levels that present serious health risks.
Cyanazine is sold by DuPont Chemical as Bladex, and has been in use since 1971. It is the fourth most widely used synthetic chemical pesticide in U.S. agriculture. An estimated 30-35 million pounds were applied in 1993 (Aspeline 1994), primarily on corn fields to control grasses and broad leaf weeds. Based on information reported by the EPA, the USDA, and others, the use of cyanazine appears to be increasing.
Sometimes misinformation is repeated so often that it sounds like fact. Such is the case with the rampant misinformation trumpeted by opponents of tougher health standards for pesticides. This report covers eight myths about pesticides that you have heard repeatedly in the media, including claims that animal tests are irrelevant to protecting humans, and that a person would have to eat some huge amount of food to be exposed to pesticides at anywhere near the levels that produced toxic effects in animals.
Most people believe that the produce they buy meets pesticide safety standards. But as this study shows, fruits and vegetables with illegal pesticides end up on grocery shelves, in kitchens, and in lunchboxes throughout the country every day. Forbidden Fruit analyzes 14,923 computerized records from the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) routine pesticide monitoring program for the fiscal years 1992 and 1993. We focused our investigation on 42 fruits and vegetables that respectively comprise 96 and 83 percent of domestic fruit and vegetable consumption.Read More