Researchers have recently published "Pesticide use and risk of end-stage renal disease among licensed pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study" by Jill F. Lebov, Lawrence S. Engel, David Richardson, Susan L. Hogan, Jane A. Hoppin, and Dale P. Sandler in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine 73(1): 3-12 available at http://oem.bmj.com/content/73/1/3.long.
They used data generated by the Agricultural Health Study, an on-going long-term study started in 1993 of the health of farmers and commercial pesticide users in North Carolina and Iowa funded by the National Institutes of Health.
They identified 320 (308 private and 12 commercial pesticide applicators) diagnosed with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) out of the 55,580 eligible participants in the Agricultural Health Study. As with previous studies unrelated to pesticide use, those with ESRD tended to be obese and not have any education beyond high school. Those with diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease were more likely to have ESRD. There was no association between applicator type, number of years living on a farm, or alcohol use.
Those who had more than one doctor visit due to pesticide use or hospitalization due to pesticide use were significantly associated with ESRD. The likelihood of ESRD increased with increased numbers of pesticide-related doctor visits. Applying pesticides more or for more years had no effect on the likelihood of ESRD.
There was some increase in risk of ESRD with the carbamate insecticide aldicarb (Temik), the organophosphate insecticides coumaphos and parathion, and the organochlorine insecticide chlordane. Coumaphos is primarily used to control parasitic insects and mites on domestic animals and varroa mites in honey bee colonies.
This study did not find an increase in risk of ESRD with glyphosate exposure. Glyphosate was recently partially banned in Sri Lanka based on a possible association with kidney disease. That ban was lifted when it was determined that glyphosate exposure leads to kidney disease only when combined with high exposure to heavy metals.
The study did find that exposure to the herbicides atrazine, alachlor, paraquat and pendimethalin, the insecticide permethrin, and the fungicide metalaxyl were associated with ESRD. Other studies have previously found kidney damage in animals exposed to metalaxyl, paraquat, atrazine, alachlor, and permethrin.
Although previous studies have not shown an effect by pendimethalin on kidney function, at least one formulation of pendimethalin contains monochlorobenzene as an inert ingredient which has been shown to cause kidney damage in laboratory animals.
It is possible that these results may be caused by solvents and other ingredients in these pesticide formulations rather than by the pesticide active ingredients. Because 'other ingredients' in pesticide formulations are regarded as confidential business information and not disclosed, research is unable to determine whether they are responsible for ESRD.
The NIOSH is celebrating N95 Day on September 6, 2016. More information on the event is at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/N95Day.html.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the U.S. federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 established NIOSH. It has the mandate to assure "every man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources."
NIOSH has more than 1,300 employees from a diverse set of fields including epidemiology, medicine, nursing, industrial hygiene, safety, psychology, chemistry, statistics, economics, and many branches of engineering. NIOSH works closely with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration in the U.S. Department of Labor to protect American workers and miners.
NIOSH if familiar to pesticide applicators as the certifier of respirators and other personal protective equipment (PPE) used in the application of pesticides. For instance, N95 is the NIOSH designation for a respirator that filters at least 95% of airborne particles but it is not resistant to oil.Phil Nixon (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) and David Robson (mailto:email@example.com)
Ever wonder why weed scientists are so aggressive about protecting herbicide chemistry? Growers are constantly being told to protect the chemistry available today because who knows when, or if, they will get anymore. But why is that? In short, any new chemistry would have to be 'the perfect herbicide.'
But let's say we want to try to bring new chemistry to the farm today and make that perfect herbicide. What do we need to do?
To get our new herbicide chemistry venture started, we need at least $250 million. After Brad Haire (reporter for Southeast Farm Press) donates the money, we will begin our research and development of the perfect herbicide. Brad needs to understand he will have to wait 10-15 years to begin getting any of his investment back and then only has 14 years before others can start selling the same product.
Let's say by some miracle Brad coughs up the $250 million. What do we need to do next to get to growers new herbicide chemistry?
Environmentally friendly is a requirement for our new product. It cannot pose a threat to surface waters, ground waters, wild life, fish and most every other critter on earth. And for sure, it cannot pose any risk to endangered species: to plants as well as animals that eat plants.
Of course, the user of the new chemistry product and the consumer of the crops that we treat with it must be protected. Acute or chronic toxicity issues are absolutely forbidden. Our product must be harmless to all humans who could come in contact with it directly or indirectly.
Persistence of the herbicide also must be understood early in development, or in other words we need the herbicide to last just long enough to help growers, but then we need the herbicide to break down into friendly natural compounds that will not harm the environment or people. The herbicide certainly can't pose any carryover risk to the crops our growers rotate into either!
Additionally, we have to:
1) Make sure the product does not cause unacceptable crop injury under a million different environmental conditions and grower production practices.
2) Make sure the product has an extended shelf life for storage, so it doesn't go bad in a few years or separate out in the tank.
3) Understand how soil/water pH, as well as other water and soil characteristic, influence the activity or life of our product.
We need to focus on making sure our new herbicide chemistry does not have any potential for an unfriendly odor or be prone to volatilization or drift. And, of course, we have to check every potential tank mix partner for compatibility and impact on spray droplet size. If a mixture influences droplet size by just the tiniest amount, we may have the EPA increasing our buffers as well as restricting our use pattern, which could threaten a grower's ability to implement a sound weed management program.
As our product is nearing commercialization, we will need to develop a resistance management plan and strategically figure out the most effective use patterns to maximize weed control, minimize crop injury and prevent resistance development.
We have to make sure we can produce the appropriate amount of the product and have perfect, timely distribution across the world, because we'll need access to the global market if we hope at all to get our initial investment back.
We almost have it... But wait
We're almost there. We almost have the perfect herbicide. But wait, there's one more hurdle and it can come out of the blue at any time: We better be prepared for various groups to challenge our label in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals of California in attempts to delay or prevent our new tool getting to the growers who desperately need it as they strive to feed the world.
"Hmmm…..maybe those weed science guys are on to something. Seems pretty smart to protect the herbicide chemistry we have today by making wise decisions, implementing diversified herbicide modes of action into an integrated program that uses cover crops, tillage and/or hand weeding." At least we hope this is what you are thinking now if you haven't thought something similar already.
Of course, we still need to be concerned that even if our growers do all the right things to protect current herbicide chemistries in the field today, will the products we do have now survive the current rigorous regulatory processes.
As you can see, to develop and then bring to market a new herbicide chemistry is nothing short of miraculous, which is why we haven't had any new chemistry in more than two decades. A new chemistry today would have to be perfect. And very few things are perfect.
If agriculture and those who like to eat can't come together to support the development of new effective tools that are friendly within sound-science reason to the consumer, the environment or for our growers, wonder who really will feed our kids and grandkids.
They'll have to do it 'perfectly.'
US-EPA has made changes to the Worker Protection Standard (WPS). Here (https://my.extension.illinois.edu/documents/960160408160816/wps-chart-for-ipr-julaug-2016.pdf) is a summary of some, but not all, of the changes. Note the comparison of the requirement, the previous provision, and the current provision.
Notice that many have changes significantly. If you have workers affected, you need to abide by the new provisions. Per the US-EPA website most of these changes go into effect January 2, 2017.
Please go to: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/comparison-chart-wps.pdf for a four-page comparison document of all the specifics. This includes Handler Suspension Applications, Exemptions and Exceptions for certified crop advisors and their employees, early-entry workers, additional personal protection equipment for closed systems, crop advisors, and aerial applicators, decontamination supplies, and definitions.
David Robson (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org)