EPA approves use of bee-killing pesticide

Agency also suspends study of bee populations

RollCall.com |Elvina Nawaguna | July 15, 2019

Just days after another federal agency suspended its periodical study of honey bee populations, the EPA greenlighted the wider use of a pesticide that environmental activists warn could further decimate the pollinators.

A major conservation group says it will take the agency to court over the decision.

The EPA said Friday it was permitting the broader use of the pesticide sulfoxaflor, a move that follows a request by chemical manufacturer Dow AgroSciences LLC.

The EPA approval of sulfoxaflor follows a decision by the Agriculture Department last week to suspend its study of bee populations, a tool that beekeepers use to track the decline of colonies. The USDA cited limited “fiscal and program resources” as justification for its decision to stop collecting the data.

Dow Chemical Co., the former parent of Dow AgroSciences, gave President Donald Trump $1 million for his 2017 inauguration, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets.org, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics.

Gregg Schmidt, a spokesman for the company, now called Corteva Agriscience following its spinoff after the merger of Dow and DuPont, said it was “pleased” with EPA’s decision. “Growers should have access to tools that can be used safely according to the product label,” he said in an emailed response.

Researchers have observed the sudden and quick disappearance of honey bee colonies in the U.S. and other parts of the world, with implications for ecosystems, crop yields and nutrition.

Blame for the bees’ losses have been assigned to intensive farming practices; planting of a single crop on the same land year after year, or mono-cropping; excessive use of agricultural chemicals and higher temperatures due to climate change, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

“Bees are under great threat from the combined effects of climate change, intensive agriculture, pesticides use, biodiversity loss and pollution,” said FAO’s Director-General José Graziano da Silva in a video for World Bee Day in May. “The absence of bees and other pollinators would wipe out coffee, apples, almonds, tomatoes and cocoa to name just a few of the crops that rely on pollination.”

Between April 2018 and the same month this year, beekeepers in the U.S. lost about 40.7 percent of their colonies, according to a report by of the Bee Informed Partnership, a program partly run by the University of Maryland and Auburn University.

“Just looking at the overall picture . . .  it’s disconcerting that we’re still seeing elevated losses after over a decade of survey and quite intense work to try to understand and reduce colony loss,” Geoffrey Williams, assistant professor of entomology at Auburn University and co-author, said in comments accompanying the June 19 report. “We don’t seem to be making particularly great progress to reduce overall losses.”

A study published in the journal Nature found exposure to sulfoxaflor reduced bees’ ability to reproduce.

“The Trump EPA’s reckless approval of this bee-killing pesticide across 200 million U.S. acres of crops like strawberries and watermelon without any public process is a terrible blow to imperiled pollinators,” Lori Ann Burd, the director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s environmental health program, said following EPA’s announcement. “With no opportunity for independent oversight or review, this autocratic administration’s appalling decision to bow to industry and grant broad approval for this highly toxic insecticide leaves us with no choice but to take legal action.”

The Obama administration in 2015 moved to ban the use of the pesticide after a lawsuit brought by beekeepers. Another court decision later prompted the Obama EPA to allow the use of the pesticide although it restricted it to only crops that are not attractive to pollinators.

Dow AgroSciences, the manufacturer of the pesticide, in 2018 filed an application to the EPA for wider use of sulfoxaflor, according to a filing in the Federal Register.

EPA’s decision on Friday not only adds new uses for the pesticides but also removes previous restrictions.

Chiquita Can’t Escape Ecuadoran Farm Workers’ Lawsuit Over Pesticide Poisoning

Chiquita

A Delaware federal magistrate judge has denied produce company Chiquita’s request to be let out of litigation concerning Ecuadorian farm workers’ claims that they were poisoned from exposure to pesticides used on bananas.

 

Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite. They have returned with a vengeance.

Credit Victoria Roberts

A. Scientists believe that bedbugs have developed resistance to some insecticides, and travel is helping to spread the resistant insects worldwide.

Another major contributor is the failure of many hotels and residential landlords to identify infestations promptly, and to dispose of or treat infested bedding and carpeting.

It has been known since the 1950s that bed bugs can develop resistance to commonly used insecticides, like pyrethrin. Resistance has emerged to more products over the years.

The biological mechanisms include a thickening of the bedbugs’ exterior cuticle, so that an insecticide does not penetrate properly, and metabolic resistance, in which the insects produce extra amounts of detoxification enzymes.

Resistance can also involve something as simple as a tendency to avoid insecticidal powders.

Researchers are pursuing new control methods, especially the use of natural pesticides. One is a fungus called Beauveria bassiana.

The fungus, which infects insects, already has been incorporated into a commercially available product called Aprehend.

Can You Pick a Bedbug Out of a Lineup?

In a survey, scientists found many travelers could not distinguish bedbugs from other pests, which could have implications for hotels and the travel industry.

Today’s Menu: Pesticide Salad, Leaded Fish with Plastic, Chemical Fruit

logo-IPS

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Credit: UN Environment.

MADRID, Jul 10 2019 (IPS) – In case you were not aware or just do not remember: all you eat, drink, breathe, wear, take as a medicine, the cosmetics you use, the walls of your house, among others, is full of chemicals. And all is really ALL.

For instance, in your bathroom, formaldehyde often sits in your shampoo, microbeads in your toothpaste, phthalates in your nail polish and antimicrobials in your soaps, while your medicine cabinet contains a myriad of synthetic pharmaceuticals.

In your kitchen, a juicy strawberry may carry traces of up to 20 different pesticides.

The size of the global chemical industry exceeded 5 trillion dollars in 2017. It is projected to double by 2030. Consumption and production are rapidly increasing in emerging economies.

And the perfumed bin-liners and air fresheners contain volatile organic compounds that can make you nauseous and give you a headache. And the list goes on…

Who tells all these and many other shocking facts is one of the top world organisations dealing with the sources and dangers of pollution and contamination – the UN Environment, which on 29 April 2019 released its Global Chemicals Outlook.

Chemicals, chemicals, chemicals everywhere

See what Tanzanian microbiologist and environmental scientist Joyce Msuya, the Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said in her introduction to this report:

“Chemicals are part of our everyday lives. From pharmaceuticals to plant protection, innovations in chemistry can improve our health, food security and much more. However, if poorly used and managed, hazardous chemicals and waste threaten human health and the environment.

“As the second Global Chemicals Outlook lays out, global trends such as population dynamics, urbanisation and economic growth are rapidly increasing chemical use, particularly in emerging economies.

“In 2017, the industry was worth more than 5 trillion dollars. By 2030, this will double.

“Large quantities of hazardous chemicals and pollutants continue to leak into the environment, contaminating food chains and accumulating in our bodies, where they do serious damage.

“Estimates by the European Environment Agency suggest that 62 per cent of the volume of chemicals consumed in Europe in 2016 were hazardous to health.

“The World Health Organization estimates the burden of disease from selected chemicals at 1.6 million lives in 2016. The lives of many more are negatively impacted…”

Referring to the agreed objective that, by 2020, chemicals will be produced and used in ways that minimise significant adverse effects on the environment and human health, Joyce Msuya warned “At our current pace, we will not achieve the goal.”

Key findings

The following are three key findings included in the report, among many others.

One is that the size of the global chemical industry exceeded 5 trillion dollars in 2017. It is projected to double by 2030. Consumption and production are rapidly increasing in emerging economies. Global supply chains, and the trade of chemicals and products, are becoming increasingly complex.

Another one is that, driven by global mega-trends, growth in chemical-intensive industry sectors (e.g. construction, agriculture, electronics) creates risks, but also opportunities to advance sustainable consumption, production and product innovation.

And a third one is that hazardous chemicals and other pollutants (e.g. plastic waste and pharmaceutical pollutants) continue to be released in large quantities. They are ubiquitous in humans and the environment and are accumulating in material stocks and products, highlighting the need to avoid future legacies through sustainable materials management and circular business models.

The Global Chemicals Outlook covers three broad inter-linked areas building upon the findings of existing and concurrent studies:

Production, trade, use and disposal of chemicals

Both the continuous growth trends and the changes in global production, trade and use of chemicals point towards an increasing chemical intensification of the economy.

This chemical intensification of the economy derives largely from several factors, such as the increased volume and a shift of production and use from highly industrialised countries to developing countries and countries in economic transition.

Another factor is the penetration of chemical intensive products into national economies through globalisation of sales and use.

Then there are the increased chemical emissions resulting from major economic development sectors.

According to the report, products of the chemical industry that are increasingly replacing natural materials in both industrial and commercial products.

Thus, petrochemical lubricants, coatings, adhesives, inks, dyes, creams, gels, soaps, detergents, fragrances and plastics are replacing conventional plant, animal and ceramic based products.

Industries and research institutions which are increasingly developing sophisticated and novel nano-scale chemicals and synthetic halogenated compounds that are creating new functions such as durable, non-stick, stain resistant, fire retardant, water-resistant, non-corrosive surfaces, and metallic, conductive compounds that are central to integrated circuits used in cars, cell phones, and computers.

Penetration of chemical intensive products 

The Global Outlook also informs that many countries are primarily importers of chemicals and are not significant producers. Agricultural chemicals and pesticides used in farming were among the first synthetic chemicals to be actively exported to developing countries.

Today, as consumption of a wide range of products increases over time, these products themselves become a significant vehicle increasing the presence of chemicals in developing and transition economies, the report explains, adding the following information:

  • These include liquid chemical personal care products for sale directly to consumers; paints, adhesives and lubricants; as well as chemically complex articles ranging from textiles and electronics, to building materials and toys. Emissions from products pose different management challenges from those associated with manufacturing, as   they are diffused throughout the economy, rather than being concentrated at manufacturing facilities.
  • Trade in articles has been identified as a significant driver of global transport of lead, cadmium, mercury and brominated flame retardants.
  • It is often the case that electrical and electronic equipment, which contain hazardous or toxic substances, are purchased in developed countries before being disposed of or recycled in unsafe and unprotected conditions in developing states or countries with economies in transition.
  • Products such as cell phones and laptops are being purchased and used in regions of the world recently thought to be too remote.
  • Increasing consumer demand for electrical/electronic goods and materials, along with rapid technology change and the high obsolescence rate of these items have led to the increasing generation of large quantities of obsolete and near end of life electronic products.
  • These trends contribute to global electronic waste generation estimated at 40 million tons per year.

Chemical contamination and waste associated with industrial sectors of importance in developing countries include: pesticides from agricultural runoff; heavy metals associated with cement production; dioxin associated with electronics recycling; mercury and other heavy metals associated with mining and coal combustion, explains the Global Outlook.

They also include: butyl tins, heavy metals, and asbestos released during ship breaking; heavy metals associated with tanneries; mutagenic dyes, heavy metals and other pollutants associated with textile production; toxic metals, solvents, polymers, and flame retardants used in electronics manufacturing, and  the direct exposure resulting from the long range transport of many chemicals through environmental media that deliver chemical pollutants which originate from sources thousands of kilometres away.

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Credit: UN Environment.

Health and environmental effects

According to the report:

  • Chemicals released to the air can act as air pollutants as well as greenhouse gases and ozone depleters and contribute to acid rain formation.
  • Chemicals can contaminate water resources through direct discharges to bodies of water, or via deposition of air contaminants to water. This contamination can have adverse effects on aquatic organisms, including fish, and on the availability of water resources for drinking, bathing, and other activities.
  • It is common for soil pollution to be a direct result of atmospheric deposition, dumping of waste, spills from industrial or waste facilities, mining activities, contaminated water, or pesticides.
  • Persistent and bio-accumulative chemicals are found as widespread contaminants in wildlife, especially those that are high in the food chain. Some of these chemicals cause cancers, immune system dysfunction, and reproductive disorders in wildlife.
  • In some countries, the runoff of pesticides and fertilisers from agricultural fields or the use of chemicals in mining in neighbouring countries, may leach into ground water, or run into estuaries shared across national boundaries.
  • Fisheries, an important source of protein and of economic value for populations around the world, can be severely affected by chemicals. Persistent organic pollutants can accumulate in fish, especially those high in the food chain. As a result, the value of this otherwise excellent protein source is diminished or lost completely.
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals can cause or contribute to a broad range of health outcomes. These include eye, skin, and respiratory irritation; damage to organs such as the brain, lungs, liver or kidneys; damage to the immune, respiratory, cardiovascular, nervous, reproductive or endocrine systems; and birth defects and chronic diseases, such as cancer, asthma, or diabetes.
  • Workers in industries using chemicals are especially vulnerable through exposure to toxic chemicals and related health effects.

These include an increased cancer rate in workers in electronics facilities; high blood lead levels among workers at lead-acid battery manufacturing and recycling plants; flame retardant exposures among workers in electronic waste recycling; mercury poisoning in small-scale gold miners; asbestosis among workers employed in asbestos mining and milling; and acute and chronic pesticide poisoning among workers in agriculture in many countries.

In spite of these and other immense negative impacts on health and the environment, the more than 400 scientists and experts around the world, who worked over three long years to prepare the Global Chemicals Outlook, underscore that the goal to minimise adverse impacts of chemicals and waste will not be achieved by 2020.

“Solutions exist,” the 400 world experts emphasise, “but more ambitious worldwide action by all stakeholders is urgently required.”

Now Fruit Juice Is Linked to a Higher Cancer Risk

Drinking soda doesn’t just threaten to make us fat, it could be linked to a higher risk of cancer, judging from a new study. But here’s the more surprising part: so could fruit juices.

Increased daily consumption of about 3.4 ounces of soda — roughly a third of a can of Coke — was associated with an 18% greater risk of some cancers in a study published in the British Medical Journal. The likelihood of breast tumors alone rose even more, by 22%. When people drank the same amount of unsweetened fruit juice, they were also more likely to develop cancer, the researchers found.

The research, part of a broader effort carried out in France to investigate links between nutrition and health, is one of the first to find a connection between sweet drinks and cancer. The findings may also taint the image of fruit juices, which are often perceived — and promoted — as healthy.

“All beverages — either with sugar or without — are safe to consume as part of a balanced diet,” the American Beverage Association said in a statement. Beverage companies are working to provide more choices with reduced or no sugar, smaller package sizes and clear calorie information, according to the industry group.

The researchers tracked 97 beverages and 12 artificially sweetened ones, including carbonated ones, sports drinks, syrups and pure fruit juices. The correlations they found don’t necessarily mean the beverages alone lead to cancer. The study didn’t seek to understand the reason for the link, though the researchers speculated that sugar’s effect on visceral fat, blood-sugar levels and inflammation may play a role. Additives found in sodas and pesticides in fruit could also have an impact, they wrote.

“These data support the relevance of existing nutritional recommendations to limit sugary drink consumption, including 100% fruit juice, as well as policy actions, such as taxation and marketing restrictions targeting sugary drinks,” the authors wrote in conclusion.

Taxing on sweet products and labeling the front of packages can help reduce sugar consumption, especially if pure fruit juice is included in the measures, according to a study from the University of Waterloo published in May.

The French study found no increased cancer risk from sugar-free drinks, although so few of the people studied consumed them that the results may not be significant, the researchers said. Water, unsweetened tea and coffee also showed no heightened risk.

The research is part of France’s NutriNet-Sante, a web-based study following about 100,000 volunteers since 2009.

Zagreb is a Pesticide Free City: Will Varazdin Be Next?

Croatia.pngJuly 8, 2019 | by Paul Bradbury

Zagreb joined the European Pesticide Free Town network last year. Will Varazdin be next?

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One of the things I have appreciated most about moving from the island of Hvar to Varazdin in northern Croatia has been the diversity of people I come into contact with. I love Hvar (and am currently enjoying that endless sunshine) but with an economy so focused on tourism, it is not exactly representative of daily life in the rest of Croatia. And as TCN moves away from a main focus on tourism to other aspects of life, it has been fascinating to learn of various initiatives around the country, and to meet people whose passions are far away from tourism.

I have a friend who lives in Varazdin and commutes to Zagreb each day, and we have a nice chat as we drive in together on the days when I have business in Zagreb. He has introduced me to various people and ideas, including Natlija Svrtan of Earth Trek (Zemljane Staze in Croatian), an environmental group which is working on – among other things – getting rid of the use of pesticides in public places in the towns and cities of Croatia. I asked Natlija to write a piece for TCN on the subject. Here it is. Will Varazdin and other Croatian towns and cities follow Zagreb’s lead?

Pesticide Free Zagreb – safe for citizens, excellent for biodiversity

Zagreb is Pesticide Free Town – will other towns in Croatia follow the example?

Since February 2018, Zagreb has been a Pesticide Free Town – which means that Zagreb does not use pesticides in public places.

The Mayor of Zagreb, Mr. Milan Bandić has recognized this initiative as a valuable contribution to improving the living conditions of citizens of Zagreb. Therefore, Mr. Bandić signed the Pledge with which he commits to phase out pesticides in public places.  With this step, the citizens of Zagreb can enjoy lying on the grass without worrying if they are inhaling dangerous toxins, and their pets can run around without having allergies and acute poisoning from chewing the grass.

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By signing this Pledge, Zagreb has become a member of European Pesticide Free Towns Network, a network of European towns who replaced pesticides with sustainable, non-hazardous alternatives. This Network is established by PAN Europe, together with its member organizations. Pesticide-free towns have teamed up within this Network with the aim of creating a platform for linking and sharing experiences, and effectively supporting cities in transition.

The use of pesticides in public places is considered to be unnecessary. While gardeners in Pesticide Free Towns use mechanical technics such as hand weeding, or machine treatment with hot water or steam, biologists and city leaders are trying to promote the “return of Nature back to the towns”, by convincing people that, for example, plants on the pavements are not “an ugly scene”, and that native wildflowers are as beautiful as those cultivated. With accepting native plants, and by accepting so-called weeds on lawns, we are contributing to biodiversity and to the return of pollinators, besides sparing the animals of direct poisoning.

Pesticides have multiple negative effects:

  • Pesticides have a direct impact on human health, and although the effects of pesticide use do not show directly and at the moment of consumption, pesticides certainly have a significant impact on human health. They are carcinogenic, cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, affect reproductive health – conceiving problems, cause abdominal pain, obesity, diabetes, allergies, neurological problems, agitation, asthma, Parkinson’s disease, and many other diseases and disorders.
  • The application of pesticides is never limited to the area for which the pesticide application is intended, but the effects of pesticides are spread far beyond the scope of application. Pesticides spread with air and water after being washed out by irrigation or after rain. Unfortunately, in almost all tested water samples (in Western European countries) residues of pesticides were found.
  • Pesticide cause direct harm to animals and insects that inhale or digest pesticides, or eat animals and bugs that are intoxicated by pesticides; this causes the imbalance in nature by killing bugs which are, or predators, or the food for other animals; direct harm applies especially to amphibians and fish which have permeable skin and therefore absorb toxins with their whole body surface. By choosing alternatives to pesticides, the impact on soil, air and water pollution, especially the groundwater that is a source of potable water is eliminated. Animals and plants are not affected by these toxins, and the biodiversity is improved.

In 2018. the Earth Trek association conducted a campaign urging all the cities in the Republic of Croatia to follow the examples of cities in Western Europe countries. Zagreb and Ozalj are those who committed to phasing out pesticides.

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In the Town of Varaždin the use of pesticides is not banned.

Varaždin has beautiful parks and green areas which are probably treated with pesticides. An especially endangered group are children – who run around grass, roll on it and expose themselves directly to pesticides.

Since the use of pesticides is not limited only to the application spot (which was proven by taking the soil samples of children’s playgrounds), children are exposed to dangerous toxins, even if those were not applied in kindergartens, or on the playgrounds. Especially worrying is the fact that most of these toxins are endocrine disruptors and have long-term effects on health.

The town of Varaždin hasn’t responded to our request to sign the Pledge.

We haven’t received the explanation on cancelled meeting in September last year, accusations of writing inaccurate allegations on our web page, nor the promised notification after planning to ask the Town’s Utility Company for an explanation of pictures we took in May 2018.

Earth Trek wishes the best for the citizens of Varaždin. Besides the elimination of toxic substances from public areas, air, soil and ground water, the transition to a pesticide free concept would open new job positions, and would also promote the Town of Varaždin trough Pesticide Free Towns marketing tools.

We believe the health of the citizens should be everyone’s first concern, and even though it seems that the use of pesticides is the cheapest way of green areas maintenance, the externalities show that the costs of the treatment of the illness caused by the use of pesticide cost the society and the government even more.

It takes time for the pesticides to decompose, particularly for those persistent, and it takes time for nature the re-establish its balance – that’s why we need to act immediately and start applying sustainable systems, in order to leave a healthy world to our children.

Best way to search a hotel room for bed bugs

By Greg Keraghosian | Yahoo Travel | March 26, 2016

Bedbugs aren’t a big concern when you travel … unless you get them. Then they’re a blood-sucking nightmare, and they won’t just ruin your trip — they can ruin your life for months afterward if they hitch a ride home with you.

Don’t think you’ll find them only in a two-bit motel — there are well-documented cases of tourists having their upscale hotel getaways ruined by massive bedbug bites. And it’s no use traveling to a region that’s bedbug-free: The data says they can be found all over the U.S.

What’s the best way to weed out these tiny critters?  We love this video demonstration from the University of Maine, in which Jim Dill, an expert with a sweet New England accent, shows us how to look for bedbugs upon first checking into a hotel.

We combine his tips along with some other expert advice into a step-by-step guide for avoiding a bedbug-infested holiday:

Put your bags in the tub, away from the luggage rack

This should be the first thing you do after checking in, and it’s often not mentioned. While a luggage rack may be away from the bed and elevated, bedbugs could easily be hiding out within the fabric of the straps. To be extra safe, put your bags in the bathroom tub, which bedbugs are unlikely to climb into.

Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association, also says you could leave your bags at the door when you first check in: “Just don’t unpack anything until you’ve checked for bedbugs,” she told Yahoo Travel.

Start your inspection by checking the headboard

Bedbugs don’t stray far from the bed — as Dill says, their range is about 20 feet away from their host — but they’re sneaky and can play hide-and-seek better than any 5-year-old.

Take a flashlight (if you have a smartphone, it probably has one) and get a good look at the headboard, which is a common hiding spot, and don’t forget to look in the creases.

“Many people overlook the headboard because it can be difficult to remove from the wall to examine it,” Louis N. Sorkin, BCE, a consulting entomologist with Entsult Associates, told Yahoo Travel.

And just to digress for a minute, Sorkin should know bedbugs well — he stores thousands of them at home for study and keeps them alive by letting them feed on him, since he doesn’t react adversely to bites. Chuck Norris has nothing on Louis N. Sorkin.

As for what bed bugs can look like, their size and color can depend on whether they’re an adult or immature, or whether they’ve recently fed. The common rule of thumb is that they’re the size and shape of an appleseed, but Sorkin has posted examples of how that’s not necessarily so. They can be flat or plump in shape, and pale or reddish-brown in color.

Check the piping of the mattress

The crevices of a mattress’s piping make for a great bedbug hideout, so take off the sheets and look closely at the top and bottom parts.

Check the mattress or mattress pad for blood spots or poop

We know, this isn’t the most romantic way to begin a hotel stay, but other than seeing the bugs themselves, this is the best giveaway of whether any bedbugs have been feeding recently. The bloodstains can be red or brown, and the bedbugs’ poop can look like magic marker dots or marks, or raised mounds, Sorkin said. The poop residue will be light-to-dark brown or black.

Check the nearby drawers and nightstand

These make for another nice, dark hiding spot for bedbugs. Don’t just look on the corners of the inside — to be really thorough, take the drawers out from the nightstand and look under them too.

Check all other prime hiding spots

This could include the aforementioned luggage rack, bed frame, picture frames, and anything else within a few feet of the bed.

What if, gasp, you find bedbugs when you check in?

I’ll share a semi-embarrassing story: Last year I stayed at a boutique hotel in British Columbia, and minutes after checking in I saw some apple-seed-size, orange-brown bugs on the window and the windowsill.

So I did what any sane person would do: I freaked out, zipped up the bags I had placed on the floor, and ran down to the front desk. To the hotel’s credit, the guy working there immediately came up to my room to check on the problem. Which, it turns out, was no problem — they were just a species of ladybug I’d never seen (Canadians!). But he examined the mattress and the room just to be sure.

Provided what you found are in fact bedbugs, notify the front desk immediately. It’s probably OK to ask for another room in the hotel, but make sure it’s not next door or right above or below (and check that room thoroughly too).

What if, double gasp, you wake up the next morning with bedbugs?

This is the scarier scenario, because you don’t know where the bugs might be in your stuff, and you must make sure they don’t leave with you. Since the hotel is going to owe you one, insist that it launder your clothes immediately. And washing them isn’t enough: Mannes of the NPMA advises putting all fabric in a hot dryer for at least 30 minutes and steaming your luggage.

To be extra safe, before returning home place all your garments in a vacuum-sealed bag and dry them again.

If you’re wondering what bedbug bites look like, Sorkin keeps an extensive (and gross) collection of photos that include the bugs, their eggs, and their bite marks. The bites aren’t dangerous for most people — just unsightly and uncomfortable. Some people have harsh skin reactions that will require a doctor visit.

Bonus question: Could bedbugs hide on your pets?

Both Mannes and Sorkin said this is an unlikely scenario, but Sorkin added that it’s not impossible.

“There are exceptions where infestations have been allowed to proliferate due to many reasons,” he said. “Hotel staff haven’t been given proper education. I’ve seen infestations in homes where people and pet dogs and cats both had been fed upon over many months or longer.”

So just to be safe, give Checkers a good look before you check out.

Bonus question No. 2: How can I research if a hotel has bedbugs?

There are some websites where anonymous guests can report bedbug infestations at certain hotels, such as BedBugs.net and the Bedbug Registry. But there’s no way to be sure if the reports are accurate, and ultimately no hotel is 100 percent safe from bedbugs because of how easily they stow away with guests. Your best bet is to examine the room yourself.

EWG Calls on CDC To Monitor US Population for Monsanto’s Weedkiller Glyphosate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26, 2019  by  Alex Formuzis

WASHINGTON – Glyphosate, the most heavily used pesticide in the U.S., should be added to the list of toxic chemicals the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regularly measures in the bodies of the American people, Environmental Working Group said in a letter sent today to the CDC.

A growing body of research has found that Americans, including children, are exposed to glyphosate through food sprayed with the weedkiller, and from air and water because of the widespread presence of glyphosate in the environment.

A University of California biomonitoring study of more than 1,000 older adults in Southern California found that at least 70 percent had detectable traces of glyphosate in their bodies between 2014 and 2017. That compared to just 12 percent of participants tested between 1993 and 1996, EWG said in the letter to CDC.

The dramatic increase in exposure among the participants in the California study aligns with the growing amount of glyphosate – the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup – sprayed on cropland since the mid-1990s. More than 250 million pounds were sprayed in 2016.

Most glyphosate used in agriculture is applied on Roundup-ready corn and on soybeans genetically engineered to withstand the herbicide. Increasingly, however, glyphosate is used on non-GMO wheat, barley, oats and beans. The herbicide kills the crop, drying it out so it can be harvested sooner. EWG has conducted three rounds of tests of popular oat-based cereals and snack foods marketed toward kids, and found glyphosate in nearly every sample of food.

recent review of 19 studies of the evidence of human exposure to glyphosate globally, led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, highlighted the limitations of currently available data and concluded that additional studies are urgently needed.

In the letter, EWG urged the CDC to address the lack of nationwide biomonitoring studies of glyphosate, especially exposure of young children. “The EPA’s dietary risk assessments indicate that children one to two years old likely have the highest exposure levels, comparable with EPA estimates of exposure in occupational settings – and yet real-life data on infants’ and children’s exposure to glyphosate are missing,” EWG wrote.

Some of the most recent scientific research suggests that glyphosate exposure during pregnancy can harm the developing fetus as well as the health of newborns and young children.

In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” to people. In 2017, the herbicide was listed by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a chemical known to the state to cause cancer.

“A national biomonitoring effort will give epidemiologists the opportunity to study the health effects associated with glyphosate exposure,” wrote Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., vice president for science investigations at EWG, and Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., an EWG toxicologist.

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Is Neem Oil Causing Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome? Pesticide Contamination?

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June 24, 2019 by Emily Earlenbaugh for Leafly

Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS), a rare cyclical vomiting condition, is said to be triggered by too much cannabis. But many believe this isn’t true—and instead say the painful bouts of vomiting come from other factors, such as pesticide contamination.
Recently, the idea that neem oil (a very common pesticide) could be responsible for CHS has become a popular theory.

But is this theory plausible? While plenty of rare allergies and sensitivities to cannabis certainly exist—and some say that neem oil is the most likely cause—medical experts and CHS sufferers have concluded the theory simply doesn’t hold water. So what is the cause of CHS?

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome Defined
Doctors first identified cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome in 2004 when a new set of symptoms starting showing up for some cannabis users.

These patients came to emergency rooms complaining of recurrent episodes of intense nausea, vomiting for hours, and unusual body temperature shifts. Prolonged vomiting dehydrates the body, and in rare cases can lead to death from kidney failure.

Strangely, for all of these patients, the symptoms could be relieved by taking hot baths or showers.

Blood toxicology showed no drugs in these patients’ systems, other than cannabis. Most sufferers used large amounts of cannabis daily—grams of extract per day, or several ounces of flower per month. So doctors suspected heavy use might play a role, and recommended stopping use entirely to see if that helped. Most of these patients stopped their use and had their symptoms subside. But those who continued using cannabis, continued to be ill.

Suddenly CHS was a thing. Even if the mechanism wasn’t fully understood, there was a clear profile of symptoms that was unlike anything else.

By 2012, more cases of CHS began to appear in the medical literature. While it is considered extremely rare, the exact numbers are hard to pinpoint. Some experts like Dr. Ethan Russo say there are only around 200 identified cases in the world. Meanwhile, there are online message boards and Facebook groups dedicated to CHS with thousands of members who believe they may have this condition.

A Neem Oil Theory of CHS Emerges
Despite the association between stopping cannabis and CHS symptoms going away, many remain unconvinced CHS can be a reaction to cannabis overuse. Some argue that the condition is actually the result of pesticide poisoning—specifically from neem oil, a pesticide commonly used by commercial and home gardeners.

Neem oil is deemed an “organic pesticide” as it comes from the vegetable oil of seed kernels from the neem tree (Azadirachta indica). Neem oil contains active ingredients like azadirachtin, nimbin, picrin, and sialin.

This theory gained prominence through CHS patients like Taeia Kaley-Dolan, who started doing her own research on the syndrome and noticed similarities between the symptoms of CHS and poisoning from azadirachtin, one of the chemicals in neem oil. Both CHS and azadirachtin poisoning can cause severe vomiting and nausea. However, azadirachtin poisonings are rare and symptoms also include not just vomiting, but seizures, acidic blood, and deadly nervous system swelling.

Kaley-Dolan shared her theory to help others with her condition understand that it might not be from cannabis, and many in the cannabis space echo the theory that CHS might really just be pesticide poisoning, or something—anything—other than cannabis.

Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome is sort of like the boogie man for cannabis consumers. It comes without warning and turns your ideal medicine into your worst nightmare, but it’s also rare, so many have never met someone with the condition. It’s no wonder that the cannabis community pushed back on this theory, saying it must be misdiagnosed or totally made up.

Russ Hudson, a Barcelona, Spain-based cannabis consultant who has been working in the space for 27 years agrees. “I would posit that most veterans in the cannabis industry—people with 20-plus years of experience—think that cannabis hyperemesis is a made-up or severely ‘misunderstood’ (read; misdiagnosed) condition,” he shares. Hudson says that he’s never met anyone with this condition in his entire time working in the space, and isn’t sure it’s real.

According to Hudson, “Azadirachtin poisoning seems a likely culprit, as well as other types of contamination,” such as bacteria or other pesticides. He also points to allergic reactions to terpenes or an uncomfortable reaction to being too high as potential causes.

Registered nurse Doug Rhodes is a wellness educator who has seen two cases of CHS first-hand agrees with Hudson and Kaley-Dolan, saying, “I’m a firm believer that hyperemesis syndrome is from contamination, be that neem, pyrethrum, or other products.”

So could it be that CHS isn’t a real thing? Could it be that we are just seeing pesticide poisoning and there are no cases of true CHS—cyclical vomiting actually caused by cannabinoids?

Unfortunately, this theory doesn’t line up with the evidence.

Neem Poisoning Differs From CHS
While we’d all love to hear the news that CHS could be solved by avoiding neem oil, the medical experts we talked to say this theory doesn’t make much sense. The effects of these two conditions are just too different from each other.

“As much as I decry the use of pesticides on cannabis, their toxicity profile does not match the symptom complex or time course of CHS.”
Dr. Ethan Russo, cannabis researcher

“As much as I decry the use of pesticides on cannabis, their toxicity profile does not match the symptom complex or time course of CHS,” explains leading cannabis researcher and neurologist Dr. Ethan Russo. “Neem oil and azadirachtin generally have limited human toxicity, but can rarely produce vomiting (the only symptom in common with CHS).”

Dr. Russo points to the other symptoms of azadirachtin overdose like increased salivation, diarrhea, liver toxicity, and convulsions. “The latter symptoms do not match CHS at all,” he says. “This is someone’s wishful thinking, or just another conspiracy theory.”

Furthermore, neem oil poisoning cannot be treated with hot showers, a core feature of CHS.

Jeff Raber, PhD, a cannabis researcher and organic chemist, agrees that neem oil isn’t likely to be the culprit.

“Someone sent the neem oil link to me a while ago and I was just like, ‘It doesn’t make that much sense,’” he recalls. “A lot of people use neem oil on that and on a lot of other products. We don’t see neem oil hyperemesis syndrome. I think we’d see a lot more cases because of the prevalence that neem has been used.”

These experts say that the CHS cases they’ve encountered and studied seemed to consistently respond to one major factor: cannabis use. They both believe that an overabundance of cannabinoids is causing nerve cell signalling dysfunction. The theory comports with what’s known about cannabis, based on cell, animal, and human trials. Take vomiting, for example. At low doses, cannabis can treat nausea. But at high doses—the opposite occurs.

“Phytocannabinoids such as THC are noted to produce biphasic effects, i.e., they may produce one effect at a low dose and an opposite effect at a much higher dose,” explains Dr. Russo. “THC is normally antiemetic, but perhaps in CHS this reverses after heavy chronic usage.”

Scientists know THC stimulates the body’s CB1 receptor—found in the brain and the gut. The body responds by decreasing the number of CB1 receptors on nerve cells. That’s how tolerance to THC develops. If the number of CB1 receptors falls below a certain threshold, boom, hyperemesis, scientists think.

Another factor is the TRPV1 receptor, also known as the capsaicin receptor or the vanilloid receptor 1. This receptor seems to be involved in CHS, and is activated by cannabinoids. Issues with TRPV1 could explain why hot baths help, since they are also known to activate that receptor.

Still, what’s not clear is why this condition affects only a small subset of cannabis consumers.

While both doctors said more research should be done to understand this rare condition and the exact mechanisms driving it, both were also convinced that pesticides could not account for the symptoms seen in CHS.

Patients Get CHS From Clean Cannabis
Perhaps the biggest nail in the coffin for the ‘CHS is just pesticide poisoning’ theory is the fact that some patients have gotten CHS from cannabis that was grown without pesticides, including neem oil.

“You can have too much water. So why are we trying to pretend that you can’t have too much cannabis?”
Alice Moon, CHS sufferer, Los Angeles

Take Jared Panks for example. The 39 year-old is a co-owner for Home Grown ORegonicX, a company in Oregon that teaches deaf individuals how to cultivate cannabis. He sources cannabis from his own organic garden, which is pesticide-free (including neem). So when he was diagnosed with CHS, he knew that pesticides couldn’t be the reason.

“I have all this documentation with all the genetics that I’ve grown, all the mold tests, all the pesticide tests, all that stuff, and I’m still getting sick,” he explains.

Panks’ symptoms line up perfectly with classic CHS—cyclical vomiting that increases with more cannabis use, and is relieved by hot baths and cannabis cessation. Panks’ worst attack left him unable to hold down food or water for 14 days. He needed to be hooked up to IV’s to survive the severe dehydration.

“For me, I think it’s an overload on cannabinoids,” he explains, adding that he’s tried cannabinoids other than THC, like CBD and CBN, and still had bad reactions. The only thing that has helped is lessening his intake of cannabinoids. “They can’t clinically say that anybody’s ever overdosed from it,” he adds. “I can say that I’ve overloaded. And that’s the truth.”

Alice Moon, a 29 year-old from Los Angeles with CHS, says she is also convinced that pesticides are not the problem. She put her body through the ringer hoping that pesticides might be.

The cannabis public relations person was once a cannabis edible reviewer, but had to shift her career focus when she discovered her recurrent vomiting would only stop when she ceased cannabis use. After quitting, her symptoms subsided and Moon decided to try again.

“I started smoking pesticide-free weed because so many people say CHS is pesticides,” she explains. “But I smoked pesticide-free weed and my symptoms came back after a few months.”

Her last attempt was to use hemp-derived CBD from a source she knew used no pesticides including neem. But one day, a larger than normal CBD dose sent her back to the hospital with her worst CHS bout yet—16 days of non-stop vomiting.

“I had so many moments where I was wondering if I was going to die because it was so severe,” she recalls. By the end of her stay she had three ulcers, a hernia, and a bacterial infection from the experience.

“Now, I will not be a guinea pig at all,” she explains. “I can’t do it. My body can’t do it.”

Since her own failed experiments getting rid of CHS without stopping cannabis, Moon has been outspoken about CHS and her belief that it is truly related to cannabinoid intake. “I 1,000% believe it’s not neem,” she says, adding that she even had a blood test that came back negative for any pesticides.

“I do believe people can have pesticide poisoning. I am not denying that that’s real,” Moon says. “But I do think that this isn’t that.”

Moon says that since going public with her thoughts on CHS, she’s gotten a lot of negative responses from the cannabis community.

“I get so much online hate in regards to this,” she explains. “Every other day, people are telling me, ‘You made this up. You work for the government. You work for Big Pharma.’ I’m like, ‘No dude, I just want to be able to smoke weed again.’”

Moon says she believes in the medical benefits of cannabis but wants to educate people about CHS so they’ll stop as soon as they exhibit symptoms and not risk their lives thinking pesticide-free cannabis will help. But Moon says, “People don’t want to believe it’s real.”

“You can have too much water,” she points out simply “So why are we trying to pretend that you can’t have too much cannabis?”

Are Sub-Populations Sensitive to Pesticides?
While the bulk of CHS sufferers must reduce their cannabis intake to be cured, some rare sub-groups most certainly have CHS-like symptoms related to cannabis’ many added ingredients. One such person is Leafly’s own Natalie Bernstein, a performance improvement analyst.

“It’s really difficult to say that any one answer is going to apply to everybody.”
Natalie Bernstein, neem allergy sufferer, Seattle

Bernstein moved to Washington in 2014 to use cannabis to manage her chronic migraines. In the spring of 2017, she switched from a pesticide-free, illicit market source of cannabis to store-bought cannabis. By summer of 2017, she developed what she thought might be CHS—nausea and intense vomiting following cannabis use.

While she worried she had CHS, her symptoms didn’t line up. She wasn’t a heavy smoker. And hot showers didn’t stop the vomiting. Rather, the antihistamine Benadryl controlled her nausea, she discovered by accident.

Bernstein has many allergies, and new ones can pop up seemingly out of nowhere. Suspecting a rare type of cannabis contaminant allergy, Bernstein started tracking her intake. To source neem-free cannabis, she used Washington state’s cannabis industry pesticide application data, and called growers directly.

She found a strong correlation between inhaling flowers treated with neem oil, and her nausea and vomiting. “My doctor told me that I was wrong, that it was THC, so I stopped seeing that doctor,” she said. “People say neem is ‘organic,’ but poison ivy is organic.”

By winter of 2017, she determined she could control her nausea through edibles, or inhaling neem-free cannabis.

Bernstein believes not all CHS cases are caused by heavy cannabis use. There’s probably a spectrum of CHS causes, where maybe 70% of CHS sufferers might have classic CHS, she believes, while maybe 20% have a reaction to pesticide toxicity, and 10% have rare allergies to even trace amounts of pesticides, like her.

“It’s really difficult to say that any one answer is going to apply to everybody,” Bernstein said. “I think what I have is more prevalent that what people know.”

Neem Oil Generally Not Causing CHS
So is neem oil the cause of CHS? Generally not. The bulk of early evidence points to overactivation of the CB1 receptor. The old adage “moderation in all things” holds true.

There is a long way to go in understanding CHS, and why it only affects a segment of heavy cannabis consumers. More research is needed to fully understand what factors are at play in this mysterious condition.

Still, while we’d all love to hear that CHS is just a made up condition or a misdiagnosis of something we can easily fix, the pesticide theory doesn’t match most case studies. Patients like Moon and Panks are suffering from a very real condition, one that can’t be explained by pesticides.

When pesticides are taken out of the equation, CHS remains.

As Boise grows, bed bug infestations are on the rise in the Treasure Valley

BOISE, Idaho — You may have heard of bed bugs being a problem in big cities like New York, but as Boise grows, it’s taking on those big-city problems as well.

In the past six months, Ada County Paramedics have noticed an increase in bed bug calls.

Because of more people traveling to and from Boise, Dina Hardaway, Infection Control Officer for Ada County Paramedics, said that more bed bugs are coming into our area as well.

“There is so much more international travel now; we’re getting more populated just within our city and within our county,” Hardaway said. “Just with those conditions alone, they are brought into our area.”

Due to the uptick in bed bug cases, Ada County Paramedics have spent the past few months learning new protocols, including tracking data on infestations and learning techniques on how to identify and exterminate them from equipment.

Hardaway says that while the bugs aren’t a public health crisis– because they don’t spread disease– they can still be a nuisance.

To prevent the spread of bed bugs, be sure to check the seams of mattresses and underneath base boards. Make sure to wash second hand clothing and clean up used furniture after buying it. If you’re traveling, wash all of your clothing and vacuum your suitcase.

If you do end up getting beg bugs, there’s no need to call 911– just be sure to call your local exterminator.

For more information on how to get rid of bed bugs, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.