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For years research has linked some pesticides and toxic chemicals with the development of Parkinson's disease. Recent research from the military base Camp Lejeune strongly suggests that one possible cause of PD is the toxic chemical trichloroethylene (TCE). The drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with high levels of TCE and perchloroethylene (PCE) for 35 years at 280 times safety standards.

In the past century, TCE (and the similar chemical PCE) has had numerous industrial, consumer, military, and medical applications. For example, it is used in dry cleaning clothes, removing paint, as a degreaser, carpet cleaner, and engine cleaner. It even was used to produce  decaffeinated coffee in the past! It's still used today - much less in the US, but increasing in China.

The problem is that TCE is environmentally persistent, and contaminates soil, air, and water. Vapors from underground water and soil contamination seep out into homes, schools, and workplaces. It is known to be carcinogenic (cancer causing) and associated with numerous cancers and other health harms, including birth defects.

The neurologist Ray Dorsey (at Univ. of Rochester), who was part of a team looking at TCE and Parkinson's disease (see post), was recently interviewed about the research linking TCE and PD. One finding: there has been a major increase in Parkinson's disease in the past decades, making it the "world's fastest-growing brain disease".

What you can do: Dr. Ray Dorsey (and fellow researchers) feel that PD is preventable. (their book). He recommends that everyone, but especially all persons with Parkinson's disease, try to avoid pesticides as much as possible. For example, use a carbon filter for drinking water, eat organic foods, don't put pesticides on the lawn, etc.

Excerpts from Dr. Subramanian (Professor at UCLA) interview with Dr. Ray Dorsey, from the medical site Medscape: Is Most Parkinson's Disease Man-Made and Therefore Preventable?

Subramanian: I wanted to first highlight some of the work that has come out and gotten a large amount of media attention around Camp Lejeune and specifically trichloroethylene (TCE) as a cause of Parkinson's, and one of the environmental toxins that we talk about as something that is in pretty much everywhere. This paper came out, and you wrote a commentary in JAMA Neurology as well. Perhaps we can summarize the paper and its findings. ...continue reading "The Case For Some Toxic Chemicals Causing Parkinson’s Disease"

Once again a study looked at pesticide exposure in humans and found health problems. This time a study by Univ. Of California researchers looked at exposures to the commonly used pesticides 2,4-D and glyphosate, and found that they are associated with neurobehavioral effects in teenagers.

Neurobehavioral effects means there are effects on the relationship between the brain and nervous system and behavior. The study found that 2,4-D had significant effects on brain function - with lower performance on tests measuring attention and inhibition control, language, memory/learning, and visual-spatial processing, while glyphosate had effects on social perception.

Studies finding harmful health effects from both of these pesticides (e.g., cancer, neurological effects, endocrine disrupting effects) are increasing each year.

By the way, almost all of us have the herbicide glyphosate (found in Roundup) in our bodies. Most of us also have 2,4-D residues in our bodies because of its common use as a weed-killer, especially in Feed and Weed products (used on lawns) and in crops.

We get pesticides into our bodies through the foods we eat and drink, air we breathe, and skin contact. Pesticide exposure to glyphosate and 2,4-D is actually increasing due to the increased use in genetically modified (e.g., Roundup Ready) crops and "preharvest" use in conventional crops.

Bottom line: Try to lower your exposure to pesticides. Eat organic foods as much as possible. (Glyphosate and 2,4-D are not allowed in organic food production.) Avoid using pesticides on your lawn. Use least toxic Integrated Pest Management for control of pests indoors and outdoors. Leave your shoes at the door.

From Medical Xpress: Research suggests commonly-used herbicide is harmful to adolescent brain function

Herbicides are the most used class of pesticides worldwide, with uses in agriculture, homes and industry. Exposures to two of the most popular herbicides were associated with worse brain function among adolescents, according to a study led by researchers at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at University of California San Diego. ...continue reading "Commonly Used Pesticides and the Adolescent Brain"

Human male sperm Credit: Wikipedia

Male reproductive health is a big deal, whether it's erectile dysfunction or sperm count and quality. A huge problem is that sperm count in men has been dropping rapidly over the past few decades, and studies find that this 50% drop is occurring globally. Two recent studies found that pesticides are playing a role in these problems.

The first study found that pesticides commonly used in our homes, gardens and lawns, as well as in our foods, are contributing to the huge sperm decline. The researchers reviewed studies looking at levels of 2 types of pesticides in men. They found that men with higher levels of organophosphates insecticides or carbamates (N-methyl carbamates) had lower sperm counts (sperm concentration).

The second study found that exposure to the insecticide chlorpyrifos and other organophosphate pesticides was associated with the development of erectile dysfunction (ED). The higher the exposure levels (as measured in the person's urine), the greater the risk of ED. Erectile dysfunction is the difficulty of getting or keeping an erection.

Bottom line: Lower your pesticide exposures (and thus the amount of pesticides in your body) by not using pesticides routinely in your garden, lawn, or home. Instead, use least-toxic Integrated Pest Management in the home and garden, and avoid use of pesticides on lawns (view "weeds" and clover as wildflowers and a bee habitat). Also, eat as much organic food as possible.

1) From CNN: Common pesticides in food reducing sperm count worldwide, study says

 Pesticides used in our homes, gardens and lawns and sprayed on foods we eat are contributing to a dramatic decline in sperm count among men worldwide, according to a new analysis of studies over the last 50 years.

“Over the course of 50 years, sperm concentration has fallen about 50% around the world,” said senior study author Melissa Perry, dean of the College of Public Health at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. ...continue reading "Pesticides and Male Reproductive Health"

Buyer beware when it comes to lawn care services. Lately I've been seeing a number of lawn care companies saying they offer "organic-based" or "organic  weed-free lawn care" or "natural lawn care". Nope, nope, nope.

These companies do NOT provide organic lawn care. Instead it's the same old routine of using toxic pesticides disguised with organic, environmentally friendly buzzwords. And yes, these pesticides are harmful to adults, children, pets, wildlife, birds, bees, butterflies, and the environment.

How do you you know that they are not providing organic lawn care?

1) One big tip off is "weed free" lawns. Nope. A real organic lawn has diversity of plants - for example, clover.  Only toxic pesticides can give you the sterile carpet look. Yes, an organic lawn can be lush, beautiful, and green, but it's different than a sterile carpet with only 1 species of grass (a monoculture).

2) Another warning sign is that they routinely apply "preemergent herbicides" (weed-killers). Nope, nope, nope. For example, one popular herbicide used by such companies is 2,4,-D. This was one of the 2 pesticides used in Agent Orange, and yes - it sticks around. Yikes!

3) They use the word "organic-based". They generally use this only when discussing fertilizers. Hah! Talk is cheap. I haven't yet seen evidence of real organic fertilizers being used.

4) They will routinely schedule "insect control" - of course, by using toxic pesticides. If they were real organic, they wouldn't do that - it wouldn't be needed and/or desired.

By the way, pyrethroids are synthetic toxic pesticides - they are NOT from chrysanthemums and have different effects, such as being toxic to bees and butterflies, and with harmful effects on humans, especially children. They are not used in real organic lawn care. ...continue reading "Buyer Beware When It Comes to “Organic-Based” Lawn Care Services"

Indoor pesticide application Credit: Wikipedia

A recent study found that indoor use of pesticides is associated with a higher risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Especially in women.

The researchers found that the longer the pesticide exposure time, the higher the risk, even among persons without any underlying risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension. This type of CKD, without known causes, is known as chronic kidney disease of unknown origins (CKDu).

CKDu has already been linked with outdoor use of pesticides, including glyphosate and malathion. This disease is on the rise globally, so studies like this one looking at indoor pesticides are important. When pesticides are applied indoors, persons living there are exposed (breathe in) pesticides for a long time. They do not break down like outdoors, where there is sunlight and rain.

The kidneys are one of the most important organs for filtering waste out of the human body. We need to protect them! One way is to use least-toxic Integrative Pest Management (IPM) when needing to control pests indoors (e.g., by caulking holes, using baits or traps).

Excerpts from Beyond Pesticides: Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Origins Linked To Indoor Pesticide Use, Disproportionately Affecting Women

A study published in PLOS ONE finds a pointed, positive association between chronic kidney disease (CKD) of unknown origins (CKDu) and the use of indoor pesticides. Longer exposure times have an especially detrimental impact on kidney function, even among individuals without underlying diseases like diabetes mellitus and hypertension. The innovation of this study’s purpose highlights the lack of exposure-related studies on kidney health outcomes associated with indoor pesticide use. ...continue reading "Indoor Use of Pesticides and Chronic Kidney Disease"

Credit: M. Silgailis

Ever since an immediate neighbor started using a mosquito and tick service last year, it is rare to find bees or butterflies in my organic yard and garden. Where I formerly had multitudes of bees, I now rarely see one.

This is because mosquito/tick services use pesticides that are highly toxic to bees and butterflies. The applicators hold pesticide sprayers at waist height that spray insecticides directly out at high volume, and usually walk along a property 's perimeter spraying.

Typically pyrethroid and cypermethrin insecticides (e.g. made by Fendona) are used. These are broad-spectrum (kill many species, including bees), microencapsulated, long-lasting (up to 90 days), and applications are every 3 weeks.

Yup, I observed the applicator walking along the neighbor's yard perimeter applying the insecticides at waist height directly into my hedges (it is obvious to the applicator that they are on my property). As he walked along, I could see the hedges violently shaking from the high volume application.

That is a deliberate non-target application of pesticides, which is against the law in my state. But it's what these companies do with impunity - go look at their web-site photos. By the way, pesticide contamination of adjacent properties will always be a problem in suburban yards with this kind of application.

Bees are pollinators, and unfortunately they are in serious decline in the United States. Pesticides are a big cause. Pesticides, including pyrethroids, also have numerous health effects on humans - none of them good. Especially worrisome is exposure during pregnancy or in young children.

Credit: M. Silgailis


A rare bee sighting among the oregano blossoms.

For a while now it's known that exposure to pesticides is associated with developing Parkinson's Disease. But which pesticides? This is an important question because millions of pounds of pesticides are applied in the US each year. A recent study provides some answers.

The Harvard and UCLA Health researchers looked at 288 pesticides. They found that 53 pesticides were associated with Parkinson's disease, but 10 were directly toxic to dopaminergic neurons. Dopaminergic neurons are cells in the brain, and their degeneration and death play a key role in Parkinson's disease.

The 10 most toxic pesticides included four insecticides (dicofol, endosulfan, naled, propargite), three herbicides (diquat, endothall, trifluralin), and three fungicides (copper sulfate [basic and pentahydrate] and folpet). Some are commonly used even by homeowners, such as Preen (contains trifluralin) and Ortho Groundclear (contains diquat).

They also found that co-exposure to several pesticides (which typically happens) have a greater negative effect than just 1 pesticide.

Bottom line: There is much we don't know about pesticides, but studies are finding more health harms each year. Avoid using pesticides in your home, lawn, and garden if you can - especially unnecessary "cosmetic" lawn pesticides. Best and safest is to use nontoxic Integrated Pest Management (IPM) or organic.

Think of it this way: pesticides can give you cancer and damage your health, but clover and crabgrass can't.

From Science Daily: 10 pesticides toxic to neurons involved in Parkinson's

Researchers at UCLA Health and Harvard have identified 10 pesticides that significantly damaged neurons implicated in the development of Parkinson's disease, providing new clues about environmental toxins' role in the disease. ...continue reading "Pesticides Involved in the Development of Parkinson’s Disease"

A recent study may contribute to explaining why autism spectrum disorder (ASD) rates are rising so rapidly in the US. The CDC reports that 1 in 36 children have autism spectrum disorder as of 2020!! Researchers and physicians agree that things in the environment (e.g., pesticides) are playing a role in this increase.

Even though the study was conducted in mice, it examined the impact of pesticides called pyrethroids on neurological development. They found that even at low levels that humans are typically exposed to, there were neurological effects on mice who were exposed during pregnancy. Their behaviors were altered in a negative way, for example an increase in repetitive behaviors.

Pyrethroids are being used in increasing amounts in the US for all sorts of insect treatments, both inside and outside of homes. It's very frequently used against mosquitos. Studies find that 70 to 80% of the US population have pyrethroid breakdown products (metabolites) in the blood. This is because we are exposed to chronic low levels - whether in the air, in water, around our homes or workplace.

The researchers wrote in the published research that scientists are especially concerned with pyrethroid exposure because it has a harmful effect on fetal development in both humans and animals. Studies are finding links from pyrethroid exposure during pregnancy or infancy and developmental delays.

"Critically, evidence from recent epidemiology and longitudinal studies suggests that ambient prenatal exposure to pyrethroid pesticides poses a risk for autism, developmental delay, and neurodevelopmental disorders in general. Analysis of data from the CHARGE study showed a significant increase in risk for either ASD or developmental delay from exposure during pregnancy to pyrethroid pesticides being applied up to 1.5 km from the home. A regional study in New York showed an association between areas where aerial application of pyrethroid pesticides was used, and ASD and developmental delay prevalence in the area. Additionally, the presence of pyrethroid metabolites in blood or urine correlates with risk for ADHD in children."

Bottom line: Avoid using pyrethroids around the home and yard. Look into IPM (Integrated Pest Management) or organic and natural ways to deal with pests. Pyrethroids are also toxic to bees, and we need bees. Synthetic pyrethroids (which is what is commonly used) are not like natural extracts from the chrysanthemum flower, and don't let someone tell you they are.

Excerpts from Medical Xpress: Research links common insecticide to neurodevelopmental disorders

A new study from The University of Toledo suggests early exposure to a common class of insecticides called pyrethroids may increase the risk of autism and other developmental disorders, even at levels currently recognized as safe by federal regulators. ...continue reading "Pyrethroids and Autism Spectrum Disorder"

Child Credit: Wikipedia

The CDC reports that autism (autism spectrum disorder) rates are still increasing in the US, from 1 in 150 twenty years ago to 1 in 36 children in 2020. That's huge!

It's not just better screening and diagnosis. Rates are increasing so rapidly that researchers agree that there are environmental factors going on. But what are they?

The researchers of the report point out known factors (e.g., age of parents, multiple gestation birth, prematurity, genetics), but what is not discussed are all the chemical toxins in our environment that people are exposed to both prenatally and after birth (postnatally). Studies find that pregnant women are exposed to more harmful industrial chemicals nowadays than ever before.

For example, lead, heavy metals, and pesticides. People use pesticides in the home, on home exteriors, in their gardens and lawns, on pets, on crops, they're in foods we eat, in water we drink, even in rainfall (!). Millions of pounds are used each year in the US. Many of them have neurological effects.

This means that babies and young children are also exposed to more pesticides than ever before. The American Academy of Pediatrics has been warning about the dangers of pesticide exposure in children for years.

Excerpts from Futurity (site for research news from universities): United States autism rates hit new high

More children have been diagnosed with autism than at any time since monitoring began more than two decades ago, according to new federal studies. About 4% of 8-year-old boys and 1% of 8-year-old girls, in the United States have autism, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ...continue reading "Autism Spectrum Disorder Rates Hit New High"

Once again Europe is better at protecting people than the US (Surprise, surprise! Not...) This time a study compared pesticide use on golf courses in different regions of the US and 3 European countries (UK, Denmark, Norway).  It found that the number of pesticide products and pesticide use is significantly higher in the US than in Europe - the risk to people from pesticides is 15 times higher in the US than the European countries.

This is because Europe is actively trying to reduce the amount of pesticides used, while the US is not. The European Union has banned a number of the most dangerous pesticides, while the US has not. Fewer pesticides (20 or fewer) are allowed to be used on golf courses in the 3 European countries, while many more (200 to 250) are allowed in the US.

Important: Pesticides drift onto neighboring properties when applied, they contaminate water and soil, people breathe them in, get them on their skin (and so absorb them). They have harmful effects to our health and environment, even at low doses.

Excerpts from Beyond Pesticides: Pesticide Dangers at Golf Courses Much Higher in the U.S. than Europe, Study Finds  

Pesticide use on golf courses in the United States poses significantly more risk to human health than those in Europe, according to a study published this month in Science of the Total Environment. The findings highlight yet another area of land management where the U.S. is dangerously behind the European Union, as these countries are set to ban pesticides in parks, playgrounds, and playing fields, and have established a 50% reduction goal for agriculture by 2030.

Meanwhile U.S. agencies continue to perpetuate widespread toxic pesticide use, with U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack even working to counter the EU’s reduction goals through a separate, “market-oriented” initiative alongside pesticide industry-friendly countries like UAE and Brazil. ...continue reading "European Governments Protect Residents By Allowing Fewer Pesticides On Golf Courses Than in the US"