Pesticide Controversy is Back

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, May 14, 2004 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

A news conference/briefing was held on May 11th by Assemblymember Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), Environment California and the Pesticide Action Network to discuss the release of "Chemical Trespass: Pesticides in our Bodies and Corporate Accountability", a 56-page document which draws from a multitude of previous studies and surveys.

The principal findings of "Chemical Trespass" based on a sampling of 2600 people in 29 different locations were that:

* 100% of the people tested for pesticide in both blood and urine have at least 3 of the 23 pesticides evaluated in this report in their bodies;
* The average person carried 13 of the 23 pesticides evaluated;
* 99% of the people tested had detectable levels of the breakdown product of DDT and 93% had detectable levels of the breakdown product of the insecticide chlorpyrifos;
* The average 6-11 years old child is exposed to the insecticide chlorpyrifos at a level 4 times higher than the level U.S. EPA considers acceptable for long term exposure and twice the level for methyl parathion; and
* Young children (6-11 year old), Mexican-Americans and women appeared to carry significantly higher concentrations of pesticides than the average population.

The fact that pesticides are picked up in biomonitoring should not be a surprise. Detection levels for these pesticides are now in parts per quadrillion or less. The proponents admitted that there is not a recognized threshold above which these chemicals are known to cause disease or harm.

Supporters of the study maintain that a number of these chemicals should be outright banned (lindahl and chlorpyrifos) and manufacturers should be required to prove that chemicals are safe before they can be sold. Since the United States Center for Disease Control has stated very clearly that there isn't a nexus between mere detection and harm, they rely on the precautionary principle (better to err on the side of over-regulating).

Assemblymember Chu vowed to resurrect her bill, AB 1006 (The Healthy Schools Act of 2003&ldots;.now 2004), which did not pass out of the Senate Agriculture and Water Resources committee last summer. She stated that amendments are "in the works."
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