BPA—another inconvenient truth by Claire McCarthy on October 25, 2011

Once upon a time, more than a hundred years ago, a scientist in Germany created a chemical called Bisphenol-A, or BPA.

Around thirty years later, other scientists discovered that BPA was similar to estrogen, the main female hormone of the reproductive system. They thought of using BPA as a synthetic estrogen. But there were better synthetic estrogens, so they didn’t.

Then, in the 1940’s and 50’s, yet other scientists discovered that BPA was a useful chemical after all. They found that it could be used to make all sorts of things, including plastic linings for cans and polycarbonate plastic. Polycarbonate plastic was particularly useful, because it is clear and shatterproof—making it perfect, for example, for baby bottles. Soon BPA was being used in hundreds of different products, from baby and water bottles to bike helmets to dental sealants and medical equipment.

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EPA: California waters show widespread pollution. Those bracing dips in the local lake or river may not be as healthy as they were cracked up to be judging by a new list of polluted waterways released last week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The study shows a 170 percent increase in the number of waterways showing toxicity in 2010 compared with 2006. San Francisco Chronicle, California.

Municipal wastewater spreads antibiotic resistance. When wastewater treatment plants discharge treated water into rivers and lakes, they can also pass along antibiotic-resistant bacteria and their resistance genes, a new study finds. If other bacteria in the environment snag these genes, municipal wastewater could contribute to the growth of antibiotic resistance worldwide, the researchers say. Chemical & Engineering News


In her book, Silent Spring, Rachel Carson wrote about a chain of events that ended in tragedy for robins. It all started when people wanted to protect American elm trees from a deadly disease. They sprayed the elm trees with an insecticide that contained a powerful chemical called DDT. The chemical pesticides ended up killing backyard robins, but long after the elm trees were sprayed. How did this happen?

Read about Carson's courage to voice her concerns.  A Food Chain Mystery: From Elm Leaves to a Silent Spring Introduction | Article | Journal Page


Beyond Pesticides’ 30th Anniversary Reception and Film Screening

30 years, 1981-2011Thursday, October 27, 2011 @ 6:30 pm
Busboys & Poets, Washington, DC

Beyond Pesticides is celebrating 30 years of protecting health and the environment through science, policy and grassroots action. Please join us for a reception with live music and organic food and drinks, then stay for a  screening of the award-winning film Vanishing of the Bees. Featured beekeeper David Hackenberg, who first discovered colony collapse disorder (CCD), will be with us to introduce the film.
In recognition of our 30th anniversary and the important work that needs to be done to protect health and the environment --through the restriction of pesticides and the adoption of organic practices and policies-- please plan to join us for this event and consider a donation between $30 and $3000. Donate and RSVP.
About the Film
Honey bees have been mysteriously disappearing across the planet, literally vanishing from their hives. Known as colony collapse disorder, this crisis is explored in Vanishing of the Bees. The film takes a piercing investigative look at the economic, political and ecological implications of the worldwide disappearance of honey bees and empowers the audience to fight back.
Celebrate 30 Years


Districts looking for water in far-away places. First it was desalinating ocean water. Then it was recycling sewage water. Now water districts desperate to diversify their supplies in the face of ever-longer droughts are pursuing water purchases from hundreds of miles away as insurance against shortages. Whittier Daily News, California.


'Emerging contaminants of concern' detected throughout Narragansett Bay watershed
Source: University of Rhode Island, September 21, 2011

A group of hazardous chemical compounds that are common in industrial processes and personal care products but which are not typically monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency have been detected throughout the Narragansett Bay watershed, according to a URI researcher.

Rainer Lohmann, associate professor of chemical oceanography, and graduate student Victoria Sacks, with the help of 40 volunteers, tested for the presence of the chemicals in 27 locations. The compounds were found at every site.

"Being exposed to these compounds is the hidden cost of our lifestyle," said Lohmann. "It's frustrating that as we ban the use of some chemical compounds, industry is adding new ones that we don't know are any better."

Lohmann said the good news is that the chemicals were detected at extremely low levels.

"By themselves, none of these results makes me think that we shouldn't be swimming in the bay or eating fish caught there," he said. "But we only tested for three compounds that might be of concern, and we know there are hundreds more out there. The totality of all those compounds together is what may be worrisome."

The three compounds the researchers measured, which scientists refer to as "emerging contaminants of concern," are: triclosans, antibacterial agents found in many personal care products and which have been identified as posing risks to humans and the environment; alkylphenols, widely used as detergents and known to disrupt the reproductive system; and PBDEs, industrial products used as flame retardants on a wide variety of consumer products. PBDEs have been banned because they cause long-term adverse effects in humans and wildlife.

PBDEs, methyltriclosan and triclosan were found in highest concentrations in the Blackstone River, Woonasquatucket River and in upper Narragansett Bay, while some detergents were detected at similar levels at nearly every site.

"Many of the trends in society - from early puberty changes to some diseases - may be caused by chemical exposures," said Lohmann. "They trigger hormones and disrupt the normal functioning of the body. We have no resistance against them."