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EPA Will Test Pesticides' Effect on Endocrine System
By Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The Environmental Protection Agency announced today it will order pesticide manufacturers for the first time to test 67 chemicals contained in their products to determine if they disrupt the endocrine system, which regulates both animals' and humans' growth, metabolism and reproduction.
The testing will begin this summer and focus on whether these chemicals affect the body's estrogen, androgen and thyroid systems, EPA officials said. It will eventually encompass all pesticide chemicals.
Research into large estuarine bodies of waters is also showing that frogs and fish are reacting to the pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and herbicides with mutations, extra limbs and other anomalies. A study is underway on that aspect of water-supply contamination too. Someone who was interviewed yesterday on NPR has written a book about it but I don't recall the name.
I did not see anything about any specific tests. I wonder if the tests are going to be for each individual chemical, or for combinations too, such as the combos you might find on a farm that uses different pesticides to control specific critters.
"Pesticide industry officials said they had anticipated the move, which was prompted initially by the 1996 passage of the Food Quality Protection Act, and they planned to cooperate on the matter." From the Washington Post article.
It's 2009. Hello? It says a lot that the concept of testing these products only occurred 13 years ago and it says a lot more about who's looking out for whom.
It concerns me that the manufacturers are the testers. There have been many instances of pharmaceuticals and chemicals being banned AFTER the damage is done and after they had been declared safe by the developers and approved by our regulators who rely on industry reports. It all seems too cozy to me. On the other hand, I don't want to spend billions of tax dollars testing all this crxp.
As a dyed-in-the-wool foodie, who is married to a man that loves his cokes and bologna sandwiches (yet is also a bit of a martial arts jock, so I'm not sure how he does that one), I have had to explain my concerns about pesticides several times.
Basically, I explain to him that the individual pesticide, on its own, probably is safe (within certain tolerances of safe). By itself, any individual herbicide is probably safe, too. On an individual basis, if you ingest a certain amount of the pesticide (measured in Parts Per Million of course), then you probably won't die or get a disease or anything (again within certain parameters).
However, if you take in two pesticides, each that are considered safe, that's two. And they may combine in ways that are completely unexpected. A really good example of how things that are unexpected can happen was shown to me in a chemistry class. We made asprin. Simple pure asprin. The final step was to pour some liquid that we had created into a beaker of dry ice, and then harvest the crystals. Simple, right? Thing is, the liquid we were pouring over the dry ice was a form of LSD. The reaction of the two chemicals created something completely different than either of the ones going in.
All chemicals are like this. Ammonia by itself is pretty harmless, and chlorine bleach is fairly harmless. Either one can get on your skin, and as long as you wash it off won't do any major damage. But if you combine them, you get chlorine gas - deadly.
Therefore, while testing is a start, I am curious if there will be testing of combinations of the pesticides. And for my examples, I only used two of any given chemical. What kind of combinations are effected in the real world? Three? Ten? More?
That is the worrysome point: the allowed tolerances of melamine, other chemicals, drugs and hormones in the groundwater - when combined with other substances or used in cumulative amounts over the years are no longer harmless nor insignificant when incorporated into biological reality.
We tend to think that natural processes - like climate - like the weather - are independent of us. But what we do is part and parcel of how things work on a global scale.