Depressed? Landmark 20-Year Study Finds Pesticides Linked to Depression In Farmers

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A landmark study indicates that seven pesticides, some widely used, may be causing clinical depression in farmers. Will the government step in and start regulating these chemical tools?

Earlier this fall, researchers from the National Institute of Health finished up a landmark 20-year study, a study that hasn’t received the amount of coverage it deserves. About 84,000 farmers and spouses of farmers were interviewed since the mid-1990s to investigate the connection between pesticides and depression, a connection that had been suggested through anecdotal evidence for far longer. We called up Dr. Freya Kamel, the lead researcher on the study, to find out what the team learned and what it all means. Spoiler: nothing good.

“There had been scattered reports in the literature that pesticides were associated with depression,” says Kamel. “We wanted to do a new study because we had more detailed data than most people have access to.” That excessive amount of data includes tens of thousands of farmers, with specific information about which pesticides they were using and whether they had sought treatment for a variety of health problems, from pesticide poisoning to depression. Farmers were surveyed multiple times throughout the 20-year period, which gives the researchers an insight into their health over time that no other study has.

“I don’t think there’s anything surprising about the fact that pesticides would affect neurologic function.”

Because the data is so excessive, the researchers have mined it three times so far, the most recent time in a study published just this fall. The first one was concerned with suicide, the second with depression amongst the spouses of farmers (Kamel says “pesticide applicators,” but most of the people applying pesticides are farmers), and the most recent with depression amongst the farmers themselves.

There’s a significant correlation between pesticide use and depression, that much is very clear, but not all pesticides. The two types that Kamel says reliably moved the needle on depression are organochlorine insecticides and fumigants, which increase the farmer’s risk of depression by a whopping 90% and 80%, respectively. The study lays out the seven specific pesticides, falling generally into one of those two categories, that demonstrated a categorically reliable correlation to increased risk of depression.

These types aren’t necessarily uncommon, either; one, called malathion, was used by 67% of the tens of thousands of farmers surveyed. Malathion is banned in Europe, for what that’s worth.

I asked whether farmers were likely to simply have higher levels of depression than the norm, given the difficulties of the job — long hours, low wages, a lack of power due to government interference, that kind of thing — and, according to Kamel, that wasn’t a problem at all. “We didn’t have to deal with overreporting [of depression] because we weren’t seeing that,” she says. In fact, only 8% of farmers surveyed sought treatment for depression, lower than the norm, which is somewhere around 10% in this country. That doesn’t mean farmers are less likely to suffer from depression, only that they’re less likely to seek treatment for it, and that makes the findings, if anything, even stronger.

The study doesn’t really deal with exactly how the pesticides are affecting the farmers. Insecticides are designed to disrupt the way nerves work, sometimes inhibiting specific enzymes or the way nerve membranes work, that kind of thing. It’s pretty complicated, and nobody’s quite sure where depression fits in. “How this ultimately leads to depression, I don’t know that anyone can really fill in the dots there,” says Kamel. But essentially, the pesticides are designed to mess with the nerves of insects, and in certain aspects, our own nervous systems are similar enough to those of insects that we could be affected, too. “I don’t think there’s anything surprising about the fact that pesticides would affect neurologic function,” says Kamel, flatly.

Kamel speaks slowly and precisely, and though her voice is naturally a little quavery, she answered questions confidently and at one point made fun of me a little for a mischaracterization I’d made in a question. The one time she hesitated was when I asked what she thought the result of the study should be; it’s a huge deal, finding out that commonly used pesticides, pesticides approved for use by our own government, are wreaking havoc on the neurological systems of farmers. Kamel doesn’t recommend policy; she’s a scientist and would only go so far as to suggest that we should cut down on the use of pesticides in general.

Others are going further. Melanie Forti, of a farmer advocacy group based in DC, told Vice, “There should be more regulations on the type of pesticides being used.” With any luck, this study will lead to a thorough reexamination of the chemical weapons allowed by farmers.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Will We Be Forced To Welcome Our Insecticide-Resistant Bed Bug Overlords?

Bed bugs

February 23, 2016 | by Keith Wagstaff | Forbes

Bad news for people who hate bed bugs. The insects are developing a resistance to widely used chemicals, according to a new study.

Researchers tested bed bugs taken from homes in Cincinnati and throughout Michigan, and found “high levels of resistance” to neonicotinoid insecticides.

Bed bugs were a big problem until the 1930s, when use of DDT kept them in check. Then came Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” in 1962 and concerns over the environmental and health effects of DTT.

Over the last few decades, thanks to the rise of international air travel and declines in the usage and effectiveness of DDT, bed bug infestations have exploded. In 2015, nearly every pest control professional (99.6 percent) had to deal with bed bugs. That is up from 25 percent in 2001, according to the National Pest Management Association. Neonicotinoids looked like at least one solution to the problem — until now.

“It’s a constant arms race,” Richard Pollack, an entomologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, told me in an interview. “We find something new, it works, and then they use Mother Nature’s laboratory to come up with ways to get around it.”

The resistance to neonicotinoids might be new, Pollack said, but it’s not unexpected. Insecticides can be incredibly effective for decades at a time. But if even a tiny percentage of bed bugs are resistant, they will survive and reproduce, eventually creating entire populations that can’t easily be killed off.

In the study, published recently in the Journal of Medical Entomology, researchers found that the bed bugs from Cincinnati and Michigan were far more resistant to four types of neonicotinoids (acetamiprid, dinotefuran, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam) than bed bugs raised in a colony maintained by entomologist Harold Harlan.

Thanks to the “detoxifying enzymes” their bodies produced, the bed bugs from Cincinnati and Michigan were 33,333 times more resistant to acetamiprid than the colony-raised bed bugs. They were more than a hundred times more resistant to the other neonicotinoids, as well.

So, should we simply welcome our new insect overlords and resign ourselves to waking up covered in itchy red bites?  Not so fast, according to Pollack.

“A lot of things bed bugs have become resistant to still work,” he said. In other words, if one pesticide doesn’t kill your bed bugs, pest control workers can just try several of them until one does the trick. Chances are the bed bugs in your home won’t be resistant to them all. There are other options out there too, like fumigation and applying extreme heat to a home. (Yes, houses have caught fire during heat treatments. Nobody said insecticide alternatives were perfect.)

To be clear, it’s not good that in some areas, human beings have one less weapon in their arsenal when it comes to killing bed bugs. But that doesn’t mean that people won’t develop new pesticides— potentially ones that are more effective and less toxic than old chemicals like DDT.

“We are in a free market economy,”Pollack said. “There is money to be made by developing new products.”

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Disturbing Map of NYC Parks/Public Areas shows Roundup herbicide Glyphosate INCREASING

February 23, 2016 | by Julie M. Rodriguez |  Inhabitat.com

Bad news, New Yorkers — if you like to take long walks or pay visits to your local park, you’ve probably been exposed to glyphosate, the cancer-linked main ingredient of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. In response to concerned citizen groups, the New York City government released a report last year detailing pesticide use by its agencies. And now, if you’d like to see whether you’re at risk, Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir have created a disturbing new map that charts every park and public area known to be treated with the toxic compound. You can view the map here.

The data shows that in 2014 alone, the city applied glyphosate 2,748 times within the city. While the recent numbers are alarming enough all on their own, what’s even worse is the fact that glyphosate use within the city seems to be increasing — the amount sprayed jumped 16% from 2013 to 2014.

Why is NYC drenching its parks in a chemical that World Health Organization classes as a probable carcinogen? Studies have repeatedly linked the herbicide to cancer dating back to the 1980s, and farmers have even filed suit against Monsanto alleging that exposure to glyphosate caused them to develop the disease. The company, naturally, has fought back against this research by suing states that try to regulate the use of the herbicide.

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Glyphosate is BANNED in France, Netherlands, Bermuda and Sri Lanka.  Switzerland and Germany begin to REFUSE stocking Roundup.

While cities like NYC and San Francisco may have no problem with spraying this controversial chemical all over their streets, other governments are beginning to crack down on glyphosate use. France has banned the sale of the herbicide over the counter, along with the Netherlands, Bermuda, and Sri Lanka. In Switzerland and Germany, major retailers have begun refusing to stock Roundup even in the absence of government regulation. The evidence of Roundup’s toxic effects is strong enough for the leaders of these nations and corporations to pull it from the shelves, and New York City needs to stand up and take note.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

“To solve the [bedbug] problem once and for all, American Hotel recommends Live Free powered by KiltronX™ bedbug barrier system.”

January 11, 2016 | by American Hotel Register

Banish bedbugs with Live Free powered by KiltronX™
  

Biting hotel owners’ wallets

It’s no surprise to anyone in the hospitality industry that bedbugs are a huge concern. Since travelers today often choose their accommodations online, they are heavily influenced by fellow travelers’ reviews. Online reviews can harm a hotel’s business and reputation if even the slightest hint of a bedbug infestation exists. Signs of bedbugs are more likely than other common hotel issues (odors, unclean bathrooms, dirty sheets) to prompt guests to leave a property.

A recent survey found that even a single mention of bedbugs on travel and social media sites drops the value of a hotel room by an average of almost $30/night.

Prevention

While bedbugs are challenging to eliminate, they’re easy to avoid – if you know how and use the right products. You may think cleanliness affects whether bedbugs will infiltrate your property. In fact, cleanliness is not the issue. Bedbugs hide in miniscule crevices and because they usually come out after dark, are harder to detect. To solve the problem once and for all, American Hotel recommends Live Free powered by KiltronX™ bedbug barrier system. This proven system actively kills bedbugs, protects the entire room (not just the mattress), prevents future infestations, and its organic solution is safe for guests.

Peace of mind

There’s no doubt bedbugs are a pain in more ways than one. Treating a minor infestation is inconvenient, but far less costly than treating the same problem after it spreads. The Live Free system, powered by KiltronX, is designed to protect an entire property, not just a room or two. The active compound that kills bedbugs was developed based on organic farming pest control technology. This green compound is in the system’s mattress covers, cushion liners, box spring wraps and all other kit components.

Sweet dreams

As the single-source solution for your property, American Hotel invites you to save up to 20% on KiltronX products through January 31.

We bid you good night, and, whatever you do, don’t let the bedbugs bite!

American Hotel Register Co.

WARNING: Osceola County Animal Services is investigating reports that someone might be poisoning pets in a Kissimmee neighborhood.

Illegal insecticide poisoned Osceola pets

Oct 12, 2015 — by Henry Pierson Curtis | Orlando Sentinel

A deadly pesticide banned for use in the United States likely killed four pets and a possum in recent weeks in Kissimmee, according to the Osceola County Animal Services.

Three cats and the possum were found dead two weeks ago on Locust Berry Drive and a dog died the following weekend in the same neighborhood, Animal Services Director Kim Staton said Monday.

“It’s kind of unusual to have that many deaths,” said Staton “None of them showed external injuries.”

The bodies of the cats and the possum were found within feet of a bowl filled with rice and beans outside an undisclosed home on the street. Tests conducted last week at Michigan State University showed the bowl’s contents had deadly levels of Aldicarb, a pesticide banned for sale in the U.S., said Staton.

“People are not supposed to be able to obtain it at this point,” she said.

The pesticide drew international attention after July 4, 1985, when more than 2,000 people were treated for poisoning after eating watermelons improperly grown with Aldicarb, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control. International bans followed when testing showed it was particularly deadly for children.

The latest deaths follow an unusually high number of animal cruelty cases this year.

Animal Control already was investigating five criminal cases of animal abuse before the food bowl poisonings. On average, the county handles no more than three cases annually, said Staton.

Animal Control officers are trying to find the source of the pesticide.

Sold illegally in the U.S. as “Tres Pasitos,” the pesticide is smuggled from Latin American countries where it used to kill roaches, mice and rats. “It’s name means “Three Little Steps” in English, because after eating it, this is all mice can muster before dying,” according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The dead animals will undergo necropsies at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Staton said.

Residents living on or near Locust Berry Drive have been advised not to allow their pets outside without being on a leash.

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Information and Perspectives on Bed Bug Prevention, Protection and Safety

Information and Perspectives on Bed Bug Prevention, Protection and Safety