Monday, January 26, 2009

Pesticides have an immense potential for unintended impacts...And More

January 26, 2009
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Thinkers: Pitt expert's work targets pesticides' ecological risks
By Mark Roth,
Next to Pymatuning Reservoir in northwestern Pennsylvania are 700water-filled tanks that may provide the answer to just how riskypesticides are to the environment and human health.
The tanks are filled with tadpoles, and University of Pittsburghecologist Rick Relyea has used them over the past several years toshow how lethal many of the most commonly used pesticides are, even inconcentrations below allowable levels.
That's significant not just because frogs are an important part ofnature's food web but because these delicate creatures may function asan early warning system for environmental threats to human beings.
Over the last four years, Dr. Relyea and his colleagues have shown howubiquitous chemicals like the weedkiller Roundup, malathion andendosulfan kill off large proportions of some frog species and may becontributing to the worldwide decline in the amphibian population.
In 2005, he showed that Roundup, the most commonly used herbicide inthe world, killed more than 70 percent of the tadpoles in his tankswhen it was present in just a third of the maximum concentrationexpected in nature. The chemical also killed more than 80 percent ofland frogs after just one day of exposure to the recommended dosage ofRoundup Weed & Grass Killer.
Last year, his team demonstrated that malathion, which is used formosquito and insect control around the world, was deadly for onespecies, the leopard frog.
Malathion didn't kill the leopard frog tadpoles directly. Instead, itobliterated tiny creatures known as zooplankton, which normally eatalgae.
Without the zooplankton nibbling away, the algae in the tanks grew sothick that it blocked sunlight from reaching another type of algaethat lived on the bottom of the tanks and is the primary food sourcefor the leopard frog tadpoles.
The chain reaction starved many of the tadpoles and kept them frommetamorphosing into frogs.
In another study last year, the Relyea team found that a "cocktail" of10 common pesticides killed nearly all the leopard frog tadpoles inthe tanks, even when each one was under the limits considered safe.
Closer analysis showed the main culprit in the cocktail wasendosulfan, a nerve agent used to combat such insects as aphids andcabbage worms, but which is risky enough that it has been banned inthe European Union and some Asian and West African nations.
Unlike other nerve agents, Dr. Relyea said, endosulfan works byoverstimulating an animal's nerves. Tadpoles affected by theinsecticide, he said, "would turn cartwheels. They would just spin andspin and spin and then die."
The same cocktail, however, had almost no effect on another commonspecies, gray tree frog tadpoles. In fact, those tadpoles tended tothrive once their leopard frog competitors were wiped out.
Even though Dr. Relyea has focused much of his recent research on thedangers of pesticides, he doesn't consider himself "anti-pesticide."
"As a kid I grew up on a farm spraying all kinds of pesticides, so Irecognize the benefits. But we really haven't put a lot of attentionon the side effects [they have] on organisms that we're not trying tokill. We're not surprised when pharmaceuticals have unintended sideeffects, so we shouldn't be surprised when pesticides do."
And while his research hasn't proved the pesticides have human healtheffects, he said we should pay close attention to that possibility.
"I think what's clear is that pesticides have an immense potential forunintended impacts, and organisms -- humans or otherwise -- areimmensely complicated, and those unintended impacts are really hard topredict," especially when you consider that today's commercialpesticides as a whole contain more than 800 active ingredients.
Dr. Relyea didn't start out to be a frog expert.
While doing his master's work in wildlife management at Texas TechUniversity, which largely involved putting radio collars on mule deerand tracking their movements, he came across the work of Earl Werner,an amphibian expert at the University of Michigan.
He became fascinated by frogs and decided to make an abrupt careerswitch, going to the University of Michigan to earn a doctorate underDr. Werner's tutelage.
One of his first experiments was studying the way that gray tree frogtadpoles grew new tails when they sensed that predators were nearby.
When tadpoles are devoured, they release a smell into the water thatthe other tadpoles can sense, and some grow bigger, bright orangetails in response. The new tails not only let them swim away fromdanger faster, but if they are caught, the predators tend to chomp offtheir colorful tails, which can then grow back.
While working on a postdoctoral project in Missouri, Dr. Relyea said afellow graduate student who was studying a pesticide suggested theyshould see whether the chemical would interfere with the tadpoles'ability to sense predators.
The resulting experiment showed that the only tadpoles that died werethose that were exposed both to the smell of predators and thepesticide, which led Dr. Relyea to the conclusion that pesticidescould be especially dangerous if amphibians were under stress.
Dr. Relyea's ongoing work already has had some real-world results.After the Roundup study was published, Congress demanded that the U.S.stop spraying the herbicide over wetlands in Colombia, where thegovernment was trying to stop illegal coca cultivation.
In the future, he would like to see the federal EnvironmentalProtection Agency start to use at least one amphibian species instandard testing of new pesticides.
Right now, the EPA tests pesticides on lab rats or mice, birds, fishand a small plankton called Daphnia. The fish are supposed to stand infor all 6,000 species of amphibians, Dr. Relyea said, but "sometimesthat's not a reasonable stretch."
To those who might argue that he wants to save frogs at the expense ofsafe food for people, he said that's a "false trade-off."
"That assumes you either have amphibians or you have the use ofpesticides, but we have lots and lots of pesticide options" that mightnot be nearly as dangerous as the ones now on the market, "so none ofthis is a trade-off between frogs and safe food."
Still, he admits to loving frogs. And he's not alone.
"My wife and I have a perpetual debate over the cutest frog species inPennsylvania, because she's also an aquatic ecologist. She argues thatthe gray tree frog is the cutest, in part because it has the littlesuction cup toes so it can walk up the glass on your house, and I ofcourse argue that the wood frog is the cutest because it has thelittle yellow stripe across the eyes and is called the bandit of theforest.
"We have this debate every year," he said, "but I'm certain like withmost things, she's probably right."
Rick A. Relyea
Position: Ecology professor, University of Pittsburgh; director of thePymatuning Laboratory of Ecology, Pitt.
Residence: Slippery Rock
Education: Bachelor's in environmental and forest biology, StateUniversity of New York at Syracuse, 1987; master's in wildlifemanagement, Texas Tech University, 1992. Ph.D. in ecology, evolutionand organismal biology, University of Michigan, 1998.
Previous positions: Postdoctoral researcher, University of Missouri,1999.
Professional awards: Chancellor's distinguished researcher, Universityof Pittsburgh, 2005.
Publications: Sixty scientific articles in journals; contributor to"Economy of Nature," by Robert Ricklefs, world's top ecology textbook.
PG AUDIODr. Rick Relyea talks about:
* Why the double whammy of stress from predators and frompesticides might kill frog tadpoles. * Research in California that connects pesticides to amphibiandeaths. * His perspective on animal research.
Mark Roth can be reached at or at 412-263-1130.
Dr. Rick RelyeaAssociate ProfessorDirector, Pymatuning Laboratory of EcologyUniversity of Pittsburgh13142 Hartstown RoadLinesville, PA 16424USAEmail: relyea@pitt.eduTel: (814) 683-5813Fax: (814) 683-2302
A Response to Monsanto
A recent paper in Ecological Applications (Relyea 2005a) hasdemonstrated highly lethal effects of the herbicide Roundup® onamphibians.
A brief description of the Relyea (2005a) study
To determine the effect of Roundup on tadpoles in ponds, Relyea(2005a) added Roundup to pond mesocosms (1000-liter outdoor tanks thatcontained algae, zooplankton, snails, tadpoles, and several species ofinsect predators). After two weeks, we went back and determined howmany tadpoles survived. The result was widespread death for many ofthe amphibian species when exposed to Roundup compared to amphibiansin the control tanks. Furthermore the death rate was much higher thanexpected based on previous studies of Roundup.
Roundup (sold under a variety of commercial names worldwide, includingVision®) is the number one herbicide in the world and the manufacturerof Roundup (Monsanto) has expressed a number of concerns about thisstudy on the Monsanto web site.
Below, Dr. Relyea responds to Monsanto's concerns.
Concern #1: Roundup is only intended for terrestrial use, not aquaticuse
While it may be intended for terrestrial use, there is overwhelmingevidence that Roundup gets into aquatic habitats, typically throughinadvertent (or unavoidable) aerial overspray (Newton et al. 1984,Goldsborough and Brown 1989, Feng et al. 1990, Thompson et al. 2004).In addition, in some countries outside of North America, Roundup issprayed directly on water to control emergent aquatic plants (Giesy etal. 2000).
It is relatively common knowledge that Roundup should not be appliedto large ponds and lakes, but it is less commonly appreciated thatmost amphibians are not produced in large ponds and lakes due topredation by fish. Instead, small temporary wetlands that may appearto be unimportant and only have 6" (15 cm) of water can, in fact,produce thousands of tadpoles including many species that breed onlyin temporary wetlands. These small, temporary pools are either notavoided or not avoidable by aerial pesticide applications.
Roundup is not only lethal to tadpoles. A new study has discoveredthat Roundup can be highly lethal to terrestrial frogs and toads aswell as well (Relyea 2005c).
Concern #2: The application rate of Roundup was 3 to 7 times too high
The application rate of "6 ounces per 300 square feet" came directlyfrom the label of Monsanto's "Roundup Weed and Grass Killer."
Monsanto wrote the label.
The simple issue is that Roundup has a wide range of application ratesdepending on which weeds one is trying to control. Thus, therecommended application rates for some uses are higher than for otheruses. Moreover, some types of weeds require up to four times theirrecommended application rate to be effective.
Concern #3: The concentration of Roundup used in the experiment washigh and unrealistic
Regardless of application rate issues, the real question is whetherthe concentrations in the water were reasonable.
Before I address this concern, I want to point out the different unitsused in reporting Roundup concentrations. Roundup can either bereported in mg a.i./L (milligrams of active ingredient per liter) orin mg a.e./L (milligrams of acid equivalents per liter). This subtlepoint is easy to overlook when reading the Roundup literature. Toconvert between units, 1 mg a.i/L = 0.75 mg a.e./L.
The concentration used by Relyea (2005a) was 3.8 mg a.i./L = 2.9 mga.e./L.
A variety of researchers have estimated the "worst-case scenario" forRoundup, which is the maximum concentration of Roundup predicted to bein a wetland that is inadvertently over-sprayed). These estimatesinclude the following:
1.4 mg a.e./L (Canadian government estimates)
2.7 mg a.e./L (Solomon and Thompson 2003)
2.8 mg a.e./L (Giesy et al. 2000, in collaboration withMonsanto)
2.9 mg a.e./L (Perkins et al. 2000)
7.6 mg a.e./L (Mann and Bidwell 1999)
Thus, the Relyea (2005a) experiment was testing the worst-casescenario for tadpoles exposed to Roundup based on Giesy et al. (2000).
Although we have many estimates of the worst-case scenarios forRoundup, we few studies on the actual concentrations of Roundup inwetlands. Observed values include the following:
0.3 to 0.7 mg a.e./L (Wood 2001)
1.1 mg a.e./L (Beck 1985)
0.3 to 1.2 mg a.e./L (Newton et al. 1994)
1.5 mg a.e/L (Couture et al. 1995)
1.7 mg a.e./L (Horner, unpublished data for Monsanto,published in Giesy et al. 2000)
0 to 1.9 mg a.e./L (Thompson et al. (2004)
2.8 mg a.e./L (Legris and Couture 1989)
5.2 mg a.e./L (Edwards et al. 1980)
Importantly, a new study using only one-third as much Roundup as theworst-case scenario (1.0 mg a.e./L) still caused up to 71% amphibianmortality (Relyea et al. 2005). This means that even when Roundup iswell within expected concentrations, a substantial fraction of atadpole population can be killed.
Concern #4: Past risk assessments have shown that Roundup posesminimal risk to amphibians
The first risk assessment to include any data on tadpoles wasconducted by Giesy et al. (2000), in cooperation with Monsanto, andthe assessment was based on the available data at that time. Foramphibians, data only existed for four species of Australian tadpoles(there are > 5,000 species of amphibians worldwide). For the fourAustralian species, Mann and Bidwell (1999) estimated the LC50 (theamount of pesticide needed to kill 50% of the animals) to be 2.9 to11.6 mg a.e./L. A subsequent risk assessment by Solomon and Thompson(2003) also included very few data on amphibians and addressed therisk of Roundup to all aquatic organisms pooled together, without anydirect assessment of amphibians in particular.
During the past three years, there has been a surge of interest inconducting LC50 experiments with Roundup on North American amphibians.These studies have demonstrated that North American amphibians can bemuch more sensitive than the four Australian species. These studieshave found the following LC50 values:
2.7 to 11.5 mg a.e./L (Wojtaszek et al. 2004)
0.9 to 3.5 mg a.e./L (Edginton et al. 2004)
2.0 to >8 mg a.e./L (Howe et al. 2004)
0.4 to 1.9 mg a.e./L (Relyea 2005b)
In addition, there are new experiments conducted with the Africanclawed frog also showing very low LC50 values: 1.1 mg a.e./L (Sutherland et al. 2006)
According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife classifications, this means thatRoundup formulations containing the POEA surfactant can no longer beconsidered slightly to moderately toxic, but rather moderately tohighly toxic to North American amphibians.
Concern #5: The results are not consistent with in-situ studies ofamphibians in Canada (Thompson et al. 2004)
The studies of Thompson et al. (2004) and Relyea (2005a) differed inseveral important ways. Thompson et al. (2004) reported mortalityrates of green frog and leopard frog tadpoles placed in small cages inponds after 48 hours of exposure to Roundup. Relyea (2005a) used analmost entirely different set of species (leopard frogs, wood frogs,gray tree frogs, American toads, and spring peepers), the animals wereraised in large pond mesocosms, and the exposure time was much longer(2 weeks). In addition, Thompson et al.'s tadpoles experienced anaverage of 36% mortality in ponds with the highest Roundupconcentrations. This high mortality in only 48 hours was notattributed to Roundup (P = 0.12), but it could not be explained by anyother natural or anthropogenic factor. When there is high andunexplained mortality, it is difficult to draw strong conclusions fromsuch studies.
Concern #6: The results are not realistic because the pond mesocosmsdid not contain soil
It is true that the Relyea (2005a) experiment used tanks that did notcontain soil. This is an important issue because soil can absorbpesticides and thereby remove them from the water column. However, asubsequent study (Relyea 2005c) has examined the effect of adding soiland found that it made no difference to tadpole survival. In thisstudy, Roundup caused 98% tadpole mortality, regardless of soiladditions.
Concern #7: The study attributes the mortality to the surfactant inRoundup but did not test the surfactant alone
Glyphosate-based herbicides are not effective unless a surfactant isadded to allow the active ingredient (glyphosate) to penetrate thewaxy cuticle of plant leaves. The most widely used formulations ofRoundup contain the surfactant POEA (polyethoxylated tallowamine, achemical derived from animal fat).
Previous work in the Australian species showed that, although theAustralian species were less sensitive to Roundup, the death thatoccurred was completely due to the surfactant (POEA) and not due tothe active ingredient (glyphosate). Relyea (2005a) used the commercialform of Roundup Weed and Grass Killer® (25% glyphosate) that alsocontained the POEA surfactant. Importantly, while most agriculturalformulations of glyphosate are 41% glyphosate, theglyphosate:surfactant ratio in the version of Roundup used in Relyea(2005) is identical to that used in agricultural formulations.
The results of Relyea (2005a) only apply to formulations that containthis common surfactant and not to other forms of glyphosate (e.g.,Rodeo). Glyphosate formulations such as Rodeo® do not contain asurfactant (they contain only glyphosate and water), but the consumermust purchase a separate surfactant and combine it with Rodeo® to makeit effective in controlling aquatic plants.
Who funded Dr. Relyea's research?
All work was funded by the United States government's National ScienceFoundation. This research has no anti-pesticide, anti-agriculture, oranti-forestry agenda. We simply asked the question, "What happens totadpoles if Roundup is present in aquatic habitats"
Abstracts and electronic reprints of all Relyea articles can be foundbe clicking on “Publications” at the top of the page.
Beck, A. E. 1985. Glyphosate residues in surface water followinginitial Manfor Ltd. Field trials, 1985., Water Standards and StudiesReport #87-4. Manitoba Environment and Workplace Safety and Health.
Couture, G., J. Legris, and R. Langevin. 1995. Évaluation des impactsdu glyphosate utilisé dans le milieu forestier. Ministere desRessources Naturelles, Direction de l’environment forestier, Servicedu suivi environnemental. 199 pp.
Edginton AN, Sheridan PM, Stephenson GR, Thompson DG, Boermans HJ(2004) Comparative effects of pH and Vision® herbicide on two lifestages of four anuran amphibian species. Environ Toxicol Chem23:815-822.
Edwards, W. M., G. B. Triplett Jr., and R. M. Kramer. 1980. Awatershed study of glyphosate transport in runoff. Journal ofEnvironmental Quality 9:661-665.
Feng JC, Thompson DG, Reynolds PE (1990) Fate of glyphosate in aCanadian forest watershed. 1. Aquatic residues and off-target depositassessment. J Agric Food Chem 38: 1110-1118.
Giesy JP, Dobson S, Solomon KR (2000) Ecotoxicological risk assessmentfor Roundup herbicide. Rev Contam Toxicol 167: 35-120.
Goldsborough LG, Brown DJ (1989) Rapid dissipation of glyphosate andaminomethylphosphonic acid in water and sediments of boreal forestponds. Environ Toxicol Chem 12: 1139-1147.
Howe, C. M., M. Berrill, B. D. Pauli, C. C. Helbring, K. Werry, and N.Veldhoen (2004) Toxicity of glyphosate-cased pesticides to four NorthAmerican frog species. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry23:1928-1938.
Legris, J., and G. Couture. 1989. Résidus de glyphosate dans l’eau etles sediments suite a des pulverisations terrestres en milieuforestier en 1986. Gouvernment du Quebec. Ministere de l’Energie etdes Ressources. Direction de la Conservation. Publication #3322. 26pp.
Leveille, P., J. Legris, and G. Couture. 1993. Results of spot checksin lotic environments after spraying of glyphosate in forests from1989 to 1991. Quebec, Canada: Ministere des Forets du Quebec. 21 p.
Mann, R. M., and J. R. Bidwell. 1999. The toxicity of glyphosate andseveral glyphosate formulations to four species of southwesternAustralian frogs. Archives of Environmental Contamination andToxicology 26:193-199.
Newton M, Howard KM, Kelpsas BR, Danhaus R, Lottman CM, Dubelman S(1984) Fate of glyphosate in an Oregon forest ecosystem. J Agric FoodChem 32: 1144-1151.
Newton, M., L. H. Horner, J. E. Cowell, D. E. White, E. C. Cole. 1994.Dissipation of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid in NorthAmerican forests. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry42:1795-1802.
Perkins PJ, Boermans HJ, Stephenson GR (2000) Toxicity of glyphosateand triclopyr using the frog embryo teratogenesis assay-Xenopus.Environ Toxicol Chem 19: 940-945.
Relyea, RA (2005a) The impact of insecticides and herbicides on thebiodiversity and productivity of aquatic communities. EcologicalApplications 15:618-627.
Relyea, RA (2005b) The lethal impacts of Roundup and predatory stresson six species of North American tadpoles. Archives of EnvironmentalContamination and Toxicology 48:351-357.
Relyea, RA (2005c) The lethal impact of Roundup® on aquatic andterrestrial amphibians. Ecological Applications 15:1118-1124.
Relyea, RA, NM Schoeppner, and JT Hoverman (2005) Pesticides andamphibians: The importance of community context. EcologicalApplications 15:1125-1134.
Solomon, KR, and DG Thompson (2003) Ecological risk assessment foraquatic organisms from over-water uses of glyphosate. Journal ofToxicology and Environmental Health 6:289-324.
Thompson DG, Wojtaszek BF, Staznik B, Chartrand DT, Stephenson GR(2004) Chemical and biomonitoring to assess potential acute effects ofVision® herbicide on native amphibian larvae in forest wetlands.Environ Toxicol Chem 23:843-849
Wojtaszek, B. F., B. Staznik, D. T. Chartrand , G. R. Stephenson, D.G. Thompson. 2004. Effects of Vision® herbicide on mortality,avoidance response, and growth of amphibian larvae in two forestwetlands. Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 23:832-842.
Wood, T. M. 2001. Herbicide use in the management of roadsidevegetation, Western Oregon, 1999-2000.: Effects on the water qualityof nearby streams. U.S. Department of the interior. U.S. GeologicalSurvey. Water Resources Investigations Report 01-4065. pp. 27
Hiroshima of the Chemical IndustryJanuary 26, 2009
***Please Circulate Widely***"Hiroshima of the chemical industry"
Bhopal: The Search for JusticeA Documentary film by Peter Raymont & Lindalee Tracey&
We are not Flowers, We are Flames!A touring Photo exhibit in North America by Raghu Rai and Maud Dorr
Monday, January 26thExhibit >>>12:00pm - 8:30 pmLocation: SCC Lobby, Ryerson Student's Center, 55 Gould St.
Film & Discussion >>> 6:30pm – 8:30 pmLocation: Thomas Lounge, Oakham House, 63 Gould St.
Free snacks!Presented By Students For Bhopal & BE:collective
"We are not Flowers, We are Flames!"
The 1984 gas leak in Bhopal, India, known as the "Hiroshima of thechemical industry," remains the worst industrial disaster in humanhistory. The people in Bhopal know the meaning of chemical terror andhave lived with its aftermath ever since.
"We are not Flowers, We are Flames!" documents both the horror of thedisaster and the perseverance and determination of those who survivedto demand justice, corporate accountability, and their basic humanright to an environment free of chemical poisons.
Bhopal: The Search for Justice
On December 2, 1984, the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal,India, leaked poisonous methyl isocyanate gas, killing at least 15,000men, women and children. Hundreds of thousands more were permanentlymaimed. Now Union Carbide is owned by the Dow Chemical Corporation.
Twenty years later, amid charges of corruption, graft and suppressionof medical and environmental research about the tragedy, the victimsare still not adequately compensated and cared for. JournalistRaajkumar Keswani, whose prediction of the Union Carbide disasterproved prophetic, documents the legacy and introduces us to theleading scientists, doctors and activists in his search for justice.
BE: collective would like to welcome you to 2009. Unfortunately formany people worldwide, it isn't a happy new year.
BE:collective stands in solidarity with the oppressed in Gaza, SriLanka, Congo, Somolia, Haiti, Colombia, Lebanon, Oakland, Favelas inRio de Janeiro, Displaced Residents of New Orleans, Migrant workersthat risk their lives crossing imposed borders, Philippines, Iraq,Afghanistan, Tyendinaga, Oaxaca and all Indigenous struggles,worldwide...the list unfortunately goes on....
We will continue the work of highlighting various conflicts worldwideand local that aren't reported in our corporate mainstream media.
The recent strikes on Gaza and the continuing illegal occupation ofPalestine only reminds us that there is a lot of work to be donearound building peace and justice on many fronts.
But let us never forget that it always starts with US! Meet! Organize!Mobilize! And more importantly KEEP FIGHTING!
BE:collective stands in solidarity with those who stand for justicearound the world.
We would love to invite you to our first screening of the new year,hope you are able to make it.
Peace and Solidarity,BE:collectiveLocation SCC Lobby, Ryerson Student Center (55 Gould St, Toronto,Ontario)
January 26, 2009
Bernards working to keep parks, other public lands free of pesticides
Come spring, the township will join 25 other municipalities throughoutthe state that have publicly vowed to do everything possible to keeptheir municipal parks, athletic facilities and other public lands freeof synthetic pesticides and weed killers.
The township committee approved an integrated pest policy in lateDecember. The policy, recommended by the township environmentalcommission and urged by a local resident, will be put into action thisyear, said Pat Monaco, public works director.
Later in February, the township plans to place its first ladybug signadvertising municipal property as pesticide-free, said Jane Nogaki,pesticide program coordinator for the nonprofit New JerseyEnvironmental Federation. She said other towns throughout the statewith similar policies to avoid pesticide use include Raritan Townshipand Chatham Township. The federation provides participating towns withladybug signs, Nogaki said.
Bernards has applied little, if any, pesticides or fertilizers onpublic open space in the past few years, Monaco said recently.
But while a pesticide-free policy is relatively easy to implement foropen space and play areas, the township continues investigating how tomaintain athletic fields without synthetic chemicals, Monaco said. Hesaid officials are consulting landscaping companies that use organicfertilizers that would have less environmental impact.
"It's more than just going over to pesticide-free," Monaco said of theprogram.
Field maintenance, and perhaps spot infestations with insects such asbees on public properties such as playgrounds, will present thebiggest challenge in making the policy work, Monaco said.
In Raritan Township, which approved its policy in summer 2008,officials are considering how to keep its fields at Lenape Park insafe playing condition, said Dirk Streuning, supervisor of publicworks.
Otherwise, Raritan Township's public property was already free oftreatments of pesticides or fertilizers, said John King, thetownship's deputy mayor. King was mayor when the policy was approvedin 2008.
"Integrated pest management is the coordinated use of pest andenvironmental information and all available pest control methods(sanitation, mechanical, biological and "least' toxic chemical) toprevent unacceptable levels of pest damage by the most economicalmeans with the least possible hazard to people, property and theenvironment," according to the policy approved in Bernards.
For example, Monaco said the public works department will keep trashcans clean, covered, and away from playgrounds to avoid attractingbees.
The township's policy has another goal — to lead by example inencouraging homeowners to eliminate pesticide use or look at organicalternatives where necessary, he said. Monaco said the use of organicfertilizers could be somewhat more expensive in a few years, but issupposed to become less expensive in the long run as soils improvethrough organic treatments each year.
"I think that wherever possible, the township and the individualhomeowner should use little, if any, pesticides on their lawns. It'sjust healthier," Bernards Mayor Carolyn Kelly said.
Monaco and Kelly agreed that Bernards' policy came about because of acombination of efforts, including interest from the environmentalcommission, a local resident and the overall efforts of the township's"Green Team" in the past few years to improve the local environmentand save energy in a cost-effective manner.
"This was something that was bubbling up in all directions," Kellysaid.
Local activist Joseph Speeney, who recently was appointed to theenvironmental commission, addressed the committee in August and urgedpassage of a pesticide-free policy at that time.
"This is a major victory," Speeney said after the committee adoptedthe policy on Dec. 23.
Speeney, a resident of a townhouse in The Hills development and fatherof a 2-year-old son, said he and other parents of young children inhis neighborhood have been concerned about the effect of weed killersand pesticides on their children and pets.
Speeney said he wants to create a pesticide-free environment forchildren where they live, play and go to school. Bernards' policyaddresses where children and other residents go for recreation, and hesaid he will follow up with local schools to determine what, if any,treatments are applied to school properties.
In the meantime, Speeney said he will continue efforts in his ownneighborhood calling for use of organic, not synthetic, pesticides,and in smaller amounts.
Bernards is not alone in taking steps to cut the use of synthetictreatments on outdoor properties.
So far, Nogaki said, 26 municipalities statewide have passed similarinitiatives to Bernards, many of them patterned after a standardpolicy the environmental federation is urging municipalities toconsider. But she said Chatham Township and Fair Lawn in Bergen Countyhad their own versions of the policy even before the federation gotthe ball rolling on the pesticide-free initiative in 1996.
Nogaki said she is encouraged by the growing numbers of municipalitieslooking at the policy.
January 26, 2009
The Montreal Gazette
Don't throw it all away
Quebecers are doing a decent job of returning reusable containers tothe stores they came from or putting them in our recycling bins, butwe can still do better
Be honest now. Let's say you are at a hockey arena, food court, parkor other public place, and you are drinking a can of pop. When you'redone, you look around for one of those garbage cans that allows you tosort recyclables from the rest of the trash, but all you see is anormal trash can. Do you hunt around for a store that will give youthe 5-cent refund? Do you tuck it into your purse or knapsack so thatyou can recycle it at home? Or do you toss the can in the trash?
While I recycle diligently at home, I must confess that I have tossedmy share of refundable cans and bottles into the trash when given noother convenient option. (At this point you may be wondering, what isone of the Gazette's Green Life columnists doing drinking pop out ofcans or plastic bottles? Why is she creating unnecessary waste? Whatabout the Bisphenol A lining the can and its possible adverse healtheffects? And why doesn't she plan ahead, and carry a thermos of coffeeand/or an aluminum bottle filled with tap water wherever she goes?Here is where I remind readers that we here at Green Life do not claimto be perfectly green, only trying to move in that direction. We arealso trying to offer tips to like-minded readers. In other words, doas I say, not as I do.)
Anyway, statistics show I am not alone in my bad habits. According toBoissons Gazeuses Environnement, an organization created by the Quebecsoft drink industry to manage the consignment system of non-refillablesoft drink containers, Quebecers throw about 400 million refundablecontainers into the trash each year.
That amounts to $20 million in unclaimed refunds. That's a lot of cashtossed into the trash, and worse, it's tonnes of bulky, reusable,valuable material that ends up in landfill. We've all heard the statson how long it takes for plastic and aluminum to decompose - anywherefrom 200 to 1,000 years, depending on whose stats you want to believe.Whoever is right, we can be sure existing landfill sites will be fulllong before that time elapses.
While these containers cannot be refilled, like beer bottles can, theycan be melted down, remolded into containers again or into somethingelse, and reused. The BGE has a program to promote its consignmentsystem called CONSIGNaction. Its website (
php) will tell you that aluminum takes a lot of energy to produce, andcan be used over and over again, without losing its essentialproperties. Recycled cans can be remade into bicycles, baseball bats,construction materials and automotive parts, or new aluminum cans.Making a new can out of recycled aluminum uses 95 per cent less energythan producing a can out of raw materials. Used plastic pop bottlescan be turned into all kinds of consumer items, like polar fleecesweaters, baseball caps, clothes hangers, garden furniture andknapsacks.
The good news is, we really are doing well on this issue in our homes.Quebecers return about 900 million containers every year either byputting them in our recycling bins (and letting scavengers or therecycling companies claim the refund) or by bringing them back to thestore ourselves. I don't have a car, so I tend to rely on the army ofpeople who comb my street every recycling day before the trucks cometo return these containers to the retailers. It works for me and itworks for them. And I figure even if they miss a few from time totime, those refunds can go to support our recycling system.
If we are managing to return 900 million refundable containers to theright place to be melted down and then used again, that's about 70 percent of the total. Not bad. But we can do better. And I firmly believeit is up to the producers of these products to help us do better. It'sall part of the polluter-pay philosophy that is finally catching onhere in Quebec and across Canada.
BGE and Récyc Québec (the Quebec government agency responsible forpromoting waste reduction) recently announced a brilliant publicawareness campaign to reduce that 400-million-container pile ofrefundable containers that ends up in landfill every year. It's called"Moi?" and it asks the members of the public to step up to the plateto help improve our recycling rates outside the home.
If you work at an office, or frequent a recreation facility that doesnot provide containers for refundable cans and bottles, just call1-877-CANETTE (1-877-226-3883). BGE will provide recovery boxes forrefundable containers free of charge, and pick them up when they arefull. The campaign started last week with ads on television and radiostations as well as billboards and posters. (To see the ad, go to
consignaction-moi/3860852756). It will continue to the end of March.
Along a similar vein, last week Ontario announced a $28-million DoWhat You Can program to help consumers dispose of household hazardouswaste by simply bringing them back to participating retailers. Thefirst phase of the program will include paints, single-use batteries,contact cement, paint strippers, used oil filters, antifreeze, propanetanks, fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and pesticides. Thesecond phase, to be launched this summer, will include things likeaerosol containers, fluorescent light bulbs, contact cement andcorrosive cleaners like ammonia and pool chemicals.
Quebec's chain of home improvement stores, Rona, pioneered thecountry's first paint-return program more than 11 years ago. ButOntario's Do What You Can program is going further by getting bigretailers to pool their resources and offer a more widespread program,which makes it easier on consumers.
The best thing about all of these programs is that the producers orretailers of these polluting products are paying to reduce theirenvironmental impact. It's all about making it easier to be green. Andit just makes sense.
(Of course, consumers have the power to refuse to buy these pollutingproducts in the first place, but that's another column.)
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette
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St. John's Daily Spray Advisory

My Past Articles

More enforcement needed for pesticide spray regulations
The Western Star (Corner Brook) - Final - 10-01-2002 - 413 words
Karen Griffin - Judie Squires says someone needs to patrol the companies that spray residential areas for pesticides because she's observed nine violations of the Environmental Protection Act in her Paradise neighborhood alone

Spray woes: Province falling down on monitoring pesticides
The Telegram (St. John's) - Final - 10-01-2002 - 253 words
Judie Squires - environment to become poisoned? A temporary ban on all residential pesticides has to be put into place, to protect us, our wildlife and our environment as a whole. Judie Squires Paradise

Government lax on cosmetic pesticide regulation: advocate
The Telegram (St. John's) - 08-28-2004 - 613 words
Stokes Sullivan, Deana - Despite increased awareness about adverse health effects from pesticides, Judie Squires, a member of the Pesticide Working Group of Newfoundland and Labrador, isn't optimistic the province will ban cosmetic use

Woman doesn't expect cosmetic pesticide ban any time soon
The Western Star (Corner Brook) - 08-30-2004 - 712 words
Stokes Sullivan, Deana - Despite increased awareness about adverse health effects from pesticides, Judie Squires, a member of the Pesticide Working Group of Newfoundland and Labrador, isn't optimistic that the province will ban the

Province lagging behind in pesticide control
The Telegram (St. John's) - 09-04-2005 - 496 words
Squires, Judie - it to do is to prohibit the cosmetic use of synthetic pesticides altogether in order to protect our citizens and the environment. Judie Squires writes from Portugal Cove-St. Philip's

The two sides to pesticide use
The Telegram (St. John's) - 07-16-2006 - 781 words
Judie Squires - health of your families. When Canada's most respected health authorities tell us pesticides threaten our health, we should all be listening. Judie Squires writes from Portugal Cove-St. Philip's

Inquiry implicates BTk
The Telegram (St. John's) - 06-24-2006 - 353 words
DEANA STOKES SULLIVAN - of trees. The live spores can be inhaled by humans and animals exposed to BT. Judie Squires, secretary of the Northeast Avalon Group of the Sierra Club, says despite claims that

Delayed pesticide laws 'disappointing'
The Telegram (St. John's) - 06-24-2006 - 833 words
DEANA STOKES SULLIVAN - at the end of this year. These products will only be sold to certified dealers. Judie Squires, secretary of the newly formed Northeast Avalon Group of the Sierra Club, isn't

Above Articles available through Trancontinental Newsnet

Time for provincial lawn pesticide regulation
The Telegram (St. John's) - 03-14-2009 - 419 words
pesticides. Please join me in lobbying our province for a pesticide ban Judie Squires Portugal Cove...

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