March 31, 2016 | by Katarina Schmieder | WIVB News 4
LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB) — 18-year-old Ryan Blair is a senior at Lackawanna High School. He says he is fed up with the bed bug problem at his school.
Ryan described what happened to his friend who allegedly was bitten during school. Ryan said, “Her neck was swollen because it looked like a mosquito bite, and it hurt her. At first, she said it didn’t hurt, but then it started to. She had bumps all over her hand.”Ryan says the girl was sent home after visiting the nurse’s office after her supposed contact with bed bugs, and says that sometimes when he gets home from school, he has some of the same symptoms.
He wishes more would be done about this problem. “It’s slowly becoming more and more of a problem in the school that we are finding more and more bugs, and it seems like the school is not recognizing it.”
On Wednesday, parents were put on alert by the school after staff found what appeared to resemble a bed bug at the school. The letter says even though they found a potential bed bug, it does not mean the building is infested. The letter goes on to say that the school has an exterminator to treat certain rooms.
Back in December, News 4 reported that the school warned parents and students after finding the bug in a classroom. But now, Ryan wants to know, why is this happening again?
He says, “It’s disgusting, and the fact that we are seeing bugs crawling around our school, not only that, but what if a student brings one home, it’s just going to cause problems all over the place.”
News 4 tried reaching out to the district superintendent for a comment, but have yet to hear back.
Below is a copy of the letter that was sent home to parents:
March 31, 2016 | by Taylor Stuck |The Herald-Dispatch
HUNTINGTON, WV – Huntington High School students were sent home Thursday with a letter alerting parents bed bugs were found in the school.
Jedd Flowers, Cabell County Schools communications director, said one or two bugs were found, probably “hitchhiking” in on a student.
“It’s pretty common these days,” he said. “It’s not an infestation of the building.”
Flowers said every student was sent home with a letter because the high school students travel throughout the school for classes, so it would be impossible to determine who came in contact.
The school will follow state protocol, calling in an exterminator to assess the building. Flowers said they will check for bugs and vacuum. If that does not rid the building of the problem, chemicals will be used.
Flowers said they just want to make sure parents and guardians are aware, and to ask them to let the school know if bed bugs are in their home. Cabell County Schools will help families who need assistance ridding their homes of bed bugs.
Residential bed bugs have been on the rise across the country, said Stan Mills, program manager at the Cabell-Huntington Health Department.
Mills said a couple bed bugs at the high school is as common as the school having a cricket, and the chance of a bed bug being taken home by a student is about the same chance of that student winning the lottery.
Mills said the health department worries more about people overdosing on chemicals to remove bed bugs than people having bed bugs in the first place.
“Chemicals are not the only treatment,” he said.
Bed bugs are small, oval, brownish insects that live on the blood of animals or humans. Adult bed bugs have flat bodies about the size of an apple seed.
Initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames and headboards. Bed bugs bite in the night, and a spot of blood can also be seen on sheets.
A pest-control company has agreed to pay $10 million in penalties for using a dangerous pesticide at a U.S. Virgin Islands resort where a Delaware family fell critically ill, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Terminix International Company LP and its U.S. Virgin Islands operation agreed to plead guilty to four counts of violating federal pesticide law in a deal with prosecutors that still needs to be approved by a judge.
According to information filed Tuesday in federal court in the U.S. District Court of the Virgin Islands, the Wilmington family was staying at the Sirenusa resort in St. John last March when they were exposed to methyl bromide, which had been sprayed in an adjacent unit.
Stephen Esmond, an administrator at the Tatnall School in Wilmington, his wife, Theresa Devine, a dentist, and their two teenage sons, were hospitalized. The sons spent weeks in medically induced comas.
The family was blessed by Pope Francis at a brief meeting at Philadelphia International Airport as the pontiff was leaving the city following his weekend visit in September.
Methyl bromide can cause convulsions, coma, and cognitive deficits. The indoor use of products containing the chemical was banned by the federal government in 1984 and the remaining uses are highly restricted.
As part of the plea deal, Terminix agreed to make good faith efforts to cover medical expenses for the family through a separate civil proceeding. If the expenses are not resolved, prosecutors said they may reopen the sentencing proceedings.
The four criminal counts cover the illegal use of methyl bromide twice at the St. John resort, once in St. Croix, and once in St. Thomas.
“The facts in this case show the Terminix companies knowingly failed to properly manage their pest control operations in the U.S. Virgin Islands, allowing pesticides containing methyl bromide to be applied illegally and exposing a family of four to profoundly debilitating injuries,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden.
ServiceMaster Global Holdings Inc., the parent company of Terminix, filed a notice Tuesday to investors about the plea agreement. Citing the judge’s pending decision on the plea deal, a company spokesman declined to comment.
[ServiceMaster Global Holdings Inc. owns Terminix, Merry Maids, Furniture Medic, American Home Shield, AmeriSpec, ServiceMaster Clean and ServiceMaster Restore.]
The $10 million in penalties include $8 million in fines, $1 million in restitution for the government’s response and cleanup at the St. John resort, and $1 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to fund training for pesticide applicators in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Our Daily Poison. A shocking documentary, written & directed by Marie-Monique Robin
February 24, 2016 | by Marie-Monique Robin | InTheseTimes.com
In a 1996 report entitled Pesticides and the Immune System: The Public Health Risks, which was commissioned by the prestigious World Resources Institute (WRI) in Washington, DC, Robert Repetto and Sanjay Baliga write: “The scientific evidence suggesting that many pesticides damage the immune system is impressive. Animal studies have found that pesticides alter the immune system’s normal structure, disturb immune responses, and reduce animals’ resistance to antigens and infectious agents. There is convincing direct and indirect evidence that these findings carry over to human populations exposed to pesticides.”
“That document sparked the chemical industry’s wrath,” explained Robert Repetto, an economist who specializes in sustainable development and who was vice president of the WRI when the report was written. “It was the first time a study had gathered all the available data on the effects of pesticides on the immune system, a subject that was completely underestimated at the time and, in my opinion, continues to be now, even though it is crucial to understanding the epidemic of cancer and autoimmune diseases that are observed, notably in industrialized countries.”
Indeed it is—and we will revisit this—as cancer is rarely caused by one factor alone; more often it is the result of a complex and multifactorial process, generally initiated by the action of pathogens (or of antigens), such as rays, viruses, bacteria, toxins, or chemical pollutants, and possibly favored by genetic predispositions, lifestyle, or diet. In good health, the body can defend itself against the aggression of pathogens by mobilizing its immune system, whose function is precisely to track and eliminate intruders using the action of three distinct, but complementary, mechanisms.
As in most states, regulators in California measure the effect of only one pesticide at a time. But farmers often use several pesticides together—and that’s a big, toxic problem.
“Acting together, these effects multiply. So even pesticides that don’t cause cancer on their own might do so together by interfering with or overwhelming the body’s ability to clear toxic substances, or harming DNA and then blocking mechanisms to repair it.”
February 23, 2016 | by Liza Gross | The Nation
California officials have long touted their pesticide regulations as the toughest in the nation. But a new report from the University of California, Los Angeles, reveals a major flaw in the state’s approach to evaluating safety, one that has broad implications for the way pesticides are regulated nationally: Regulators assess pesticide safety one product at a time, but growers often apply pesticides as mixtures. That’s a serious problem, the authors argue, because pesticide interactions can ratchet up toxic effects, greatly enhancing the risk of cancer and other serious health conditions.
“The federal EPA and California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) have not adequately dealt with interactive effects,” says John Froines, a report coauthor and a chemist with decades of experience assessing health risks of toxic chemicals as a scientist and regulator. “People are exposed to a large number of chemicals. You can’t simply look chemical by chemical to adequately address the toxicity of these compounds.”
Fumigants, used to combat a range of pests and diseases, are among the most toxic chemicals used in agriculture. They are a staple of high-value crops like tomatoes and strawberries. Studies in humans and animals have linked them to acute respiratory and skin damage and serious chronic health problems, including cancer and neurological and reproductive disorders.
To get around the state’s failure to collect data on cumulative exposures to these fumigants, Froines and his colleagues drew on what’s known about the chemical and biological properties of three of the most heavily used fumigants in California: chloropicrin, Telone (the trade name for 1,3-dichloropropene), and metam sodium.
Individual fumigants are highly reactive chemicals that damage DNA and interfere with proteins that perform critical cell functions. Acting together, these effects multiply. So even pesticides that don’t cause cancer on their own might do so together by interfering with or overwhelming the body’s ability to clear toxic substances, or harming DNA and then blocking mechanisms to repair it.
These interactive effects would not be detected in studies of individual pesticides.
Pesticide regulators are aware of the report, says California DPR spokesperson Charlotte Fadipe, but adds that the agency rarely comments on such studies because “the information often lacks the extensive rigorous science for a regulatory department to make regulations.” What’s more, she notes, “DPR has the most protective and robust pesticide program in the country.”
Froines, who served as director of the Office of Toxic Substances at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration under President Jimmy Carter and has led several scientific review panels at the state’s request to assess chemical toxicity, has revealed flaws in pesticide regulations before. In 2010, he headed a California scientific review panel that deemed chloropicrin—one of the fumigants studied in the current report—a “potent carcinogen.” State officials ignored the panel’s advice and decided the evidence was ambiguous. The same year, he chaired another review panel that calledthe fumigant methyl iodide a “highly toxic chemical” that poses a serious threat to public health. This time, manufacturers withdrew the product from the market.
With few restrictions on combining pesticides, growers often use multiple-chemical formulations or apply different fumigants to adjoining fields or in close succession. That exposes people who live, work, and go to school near these fields to several fumigants at once, despite growing evidence that these chemical concoctions pose even greater health risks.
As reported by the Food & Environment Reporting Network and The Nation last April, residents of Oxnard, a strawberry-growing stronghold in Southern California where most residents are Latino, had worried for years about the risks of heavy exposure to fumigants.
Rio Mesa High School students were twice as likely as white kids to go to schools near heavy fumigant use. And though regulators admitted as much in addressing a complaint filed by several parents, they did little to restrict fumigant use near schools. In fact, the year after EPA officials dismissed the families’ complaint, growers dramatically increased their use of toxic fumigants around Rio Mesa.
Less than a month after the Nation story ran, the Department of Pesticide Regulation announced it would revisit restrictions on pesticide use near schools after seeking public input through statewide workshops. Officials promised to deliver new rules last December, then pushed back the date, saying they hadn’t reviewed all the public comments. DPR spokesperson Fadipe says they’re still working on draft regulations but can’t say for sure when they’ll issue the draft rules.
The UCLA report shows that going to school at Rio Mesa still poses a health risk. The authors used standard EPA air dispersion models and pesticide use data collected by state regulators to simulate likely fumigant dispersion patterns around the school. They chose Rio Mesa in part because an on-site air monitor shows that fumigants are escaping into the air. As expected, their modeling results show that overlapping exposures occur at Rio Mesa—two years after EPA dismissed community concerns—and at other locations, including schools and daycare centers.
These results underscore the importance of establishing no-spray zones around schools and other sensitive sites as soon as possible, activists say.
“This new report on fumigants is a stark reminder that regulatory agencies have largely failed to regulate toxic chemicals,” says Bruce Lanphear, professor of health sciences at Simon Fraser University and an expert on the impacts of toxic exposures on the developing brain who was not involved in the report. “We are all exposed to a cocktail of dozens, if not hundreds of chemicals, which can have similar detoxification mechanisms and modes of action.”
Regulators must consider synergistic effects of pesticides in risk assessments, the authors say. They contend that a California law requires state agencies to consider cumulative impacts and that interactive effects from pesticides fall under that law. They urge state officials to make several changes to pesticide regulations to uphold their mission to protect public health.