Friday, August 26, 2011

Update on OUST... Lessons learned?   Out is one of the chemicals used in the Massachusetts Rights of Way Vegetation Management Plans.  The problem with these ROW plans is that the herbicide fact sheets the companies and state agencies use are out of date.  Current research (and law suits) repeatedly  show that the chemicals are more toxic and cause more damage than previously understood.

PAN Blog
Last week's action by EPA and the pending lawsuits — with billions in potential liability — come on the heels of Dupont's losses in a lawsuit around damage caused by the company's herbicide Oust. Another longlasting, water-soluble herbicide (active ingredient: sulfometuron methyl), Oust was used by the Bureau of Land Management back in 2001 to control invasive weeds on more than 30,000 acres of public rangeland in Idaho. (See below.)
GroundTruth Blog
 Tree-killing herbicide pulled from market  Mon, 2011-08-22  
Dupont's new systemic herbicides, designed to keep turf grass free of troublesome weeds, seem to pose little direct danger to human health. But it turns out they do kill trees.
After receiving more than 7,000 reports of damaged or killed trees in states throughout the midwest, last week EPA ordered Dupont to immediately "halt the sale, use or distribution" of the company's herbicide Imprelis.

EPA approved conditional registration of Imprelis in August 2010. New York and California chose not to register the herbicide because tests showed it failed to bind with soil, "raising a red flag for potentially contaminating groundwater and damaging non-target plants," according to BioCycle Magazine.

BioCycle also reports that a national law firm has organized a class action lawsuit targeting Dupont on behalf of homeowners in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, and Minnesota whose trees have been damaged or killed. Plans are underway for additional legal actions in Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas and South Dakota.

Norway spruce and white pine appear to be particularly susceptible to harm from the longlasting herbicide.

Imprelis is one of dozens of Dupont products with the active ingredient aminocyclopyrachlor, most designed for use on turf grass or roadside brush control. All other products in this family, including the herbicides Perspective, Plainview, Streamline and Viewpoint, are still on the market.


Growing trouble with herbicides

Last week's action by EPA and the pending lawsuits — with billions in potential liability — come on the heels of Dupont's losses in a lawsuit around damage caused by the company's herbicide Oust. Another longlasting, water-soluble herbicide (active ingredient: sulfometuron methyl), Oust was used by the Bureau of Land Management back in 2001 to control invasive weeds on more than 30,000 acres of public rangeland in Idaho.


When the wind came, the herbicide was carried in dust onto more than 100 neighboring farms. Sugar beets wilted, corn was stunted and potatoes died; after years of crop failure, farmers suffered millions in losses, and some lost their land to creditors.

One of the attorneys in the case described the herbicide as "very potent," known to hurt crops in concentrations as low as parts-per-trillion.

In a 2009 trial involving just 4 of the 118 farmers who have filed suit, a jury ordered Dupont to pay $17.8 million in damages, finding the company "responsible for selling a product that was defective, unreasonably dangerous and lacking adequate warnings" according to coverage in the MagicValley Times-News.

Dupont has appealed the ruling, and the 114 other cases remain to be heard. Between dying trees and damaged crops, Dupont's herbicides seem to be keeping the company lawyers very busy.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Learn about Piperonyl Butoxide (PBO)
...because it is an ingredient in many of the products in the vegetation management plans by MBTA, DCR, CSX and DOT on Greenline tracks, parkways, railroad and turnpike and products sold for landscaping and mosquito control.
Roundup-Pro or Razor-Pro, alone or in combination with Arsenal, Escort XP, Oust Extra or Oust XP.  (MGL c. 132B sec. 6B)
Beyond Pesticides Rating: Toxic

Piperonyl butoxide, or PBO as it is most often called, is a pesticide synergist. A synergist is another chemical that is added to a pesticide product, in addition to the active and inert ingredients, to increase the potency of the active ingredient. While the increased potency make the pesticides more deadly to their targets, synergists may also compromise the detoxifying mechanisms of non-target species, including humans. A typical pesticide product contains 5-20 times more synergist than active ingredient. Many products from repellants and pediculicides (lice killers) to foggers and garden sprays contain synergists. Formulations of permethrin, resmethrin and sumithrin, including ScourgeTM and AnvilTM, used along the for mosquito control to combat the West Nile Virus, commonly contain the synergist PBO. Prethroids, pyrethrins, rotenone and carbamates are the pesticides most often formulated in combination with PBO (Gosselin et al., 1984). 

Health Effects

PBO affects humans by inhibiting important liver enzymes responsible for breakdown of some toxins, including the active ingredients of pesticides. Specifically, it has been shown to inhibit hepatic microsomal oxidase enzymes in laboratory rodents and interfere in humans. Because these enzymes act to detoxify many drugs and other chemicals, a heavy exposure to an insecticidal synergist may make a person temporarily vulnerable to a variety of toxic insults that would normally be easily tolerated (Gosselin et al., 1984). In addition to the symptoms induced by the active ingredients, signs of PBO poisoning include anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal inflammation, pulmonary hemorrhage and perhaps mild central nervous system depression. Repeated contact may cause slight skin irritation. Chronic toxicity studies have shown increased liver weights, even at the lowest doses, 30 mg/kg/day. Animal studies have shown hepatocellular carcinomas, even treatments as low as 1.2% (Takahashi et al., 1994). EPA considers PBO to be a class C possible human carcinogen.

PBO in the Environment

PBO is moderately toxic to most amphibians, crustaceans, fish and other aquatic organisms. However, study published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found piperonyl butoxide to be very highly toxic to bluegills and aquatic sowbugs (Johnson, 1980). Very little is known about the persistence of PBO in the environment.

Gosselin, R.E. 1984. Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products. Williams and Wilkins. Baltimore, MD.
Johnson,W.W. and M.T.Finley Handbook of Acute Toxicity of Chemicals to Fish and Aquatic Invertebrates, Resource Publication 137, Fish Wildlife Service, U.S.D.I., Washington, D.C. 1980
Takahashi, O., et al., 1994. “Chronic toxicity studies of piperonyl butoxide in F344 rats: induction of hepatocellular carcinoma.” Fund. Appl. Toxicol. 22:293-303.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Newton Herbicide Notification List UPDATE 8 8 2011

Update Addendum. 

Notice: rec'd 8/8/2011  3:40 pm MA Dept. of Transporation Herbicide Application Notice for I-90, Published in the Boston Herald, June 5, 2011

 Herbicide Notification Update  August 8, 2011

Let me know if you would like to be taken off this list or if you get duplicate emails.  Feel free to forward to friends and neighbors. Questions? Call Ellie 617-965-9637,  Green Decade 617-965-1995  Don't Spray 'em. Outsmart 'em.

1 )  Do you see any "sensitive area" flags or markers on the MBTA, Railroad, Turnpike or roadways, parkways, sidewalks or trails in Newton or surrounding towns?  Please take photos and send them to me.  See marker descriptions below.* 

2 )  No spray

Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation: DCR- Division of Urban Parks [PDF]
At the Newton Conservation Commission meeting on July 28, Environmental Planner Anne Phelps did not approve DCR's maps. They did not show sufficient detail to identify sensitive areas. Phelps asked for better maps.  Therefore Newton did not approve DCR's plan to apply herbicides this year, 2011, to Hammond Pond-Lost Pond PKWY, Saw Mill Brook Area, Quinobequin Rd, Charles River Reservation.

According to John McNally, Newton Department of Health, the MBTA will not apply herbicides on the Greenline in 2011. 

3 ) I am still trying to find a find out about:

According to the 2011 plan, "CSX intends to commence initial application of herbicides on June 6, 2011. Application in an area may be delayed by rain or windy conditions. Application will conclude on or before July 1, 2011. Any touch-up spraying that may be required will commence after
August 1, 2011 and will conclude by August 31, 2011."
CSX operates over and maintains nearly 670 miles of railroad track and maintains nearly 530 public and private grade crossings in Massachusetts.

3a)  8 9 2011:  According to Linda S. Smith, Environmental Analyst with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Highway Division, I-90 has already been sprayed.

I-90 in Newton was sprayed on 7/28 and 8/3.

Did anyone see this notice in the Boston Herald?   See Notice:  MA Dept. of Transporation Herbicide Application Notice for I-90, Published in the Boston Herald, June 5, 2011 .  MASSDOT HIGHWAY DIVISION DISTRICT 6 (includes Turnpike (I-90) from Boston to Weston.)  
MassDOT District 6 - Vegetation Management Plan (2011 - 2015) [PDF]

Linda Smith also said that a notice was published July 31 for the MA DOT herbicide application for I-95 for other towns but not in Newton.

4)  * Marker Descriptions * Different agencies use different systems.

According to the CSX plan:

Sensitive areas, no-spray areas, limited-spray areas, and non-sensitive areas will be marked at their boundaries with permanent color-coded markers by one or any combination of the following:

• color-coded signs attached to posts
• color-coded signs attached to the railroad ties
• color-coded painted rail sections and/or ties

Sensitive areas and non-sensitive areas will be designated by the following color-codes:

• white: non-sensitive areas
• blue: sensitive area in which a minimum of 12 months shall elapse between herbicide applications
• double or dark blue: sensitive areas in which a minimum of 24 months shall elapse between herbicide applications.
• yellow: no spray zone

According to the DCR vegetation management plan:

  • Prior to the commencement of herbicide application operations, DCR will place yellow painted arrows that point towards a “no spray” zone on streets curbs or sidewalks as necessary, yellow arrows on stakes for dirt trials.
  • DCR will deploy a qualified point person to assist in identification. For applications using a vehicle a single orange traffic cone will be placed by the yellow arrow to signify where to stop the herbicide treatment. Two cones will be placed at the next yellow arrow to signify where treatment can be re-started.

According to the MA DOT plan:

For the purpose of identification, sensitive areas are separated into two categories: areas that are and are not readily identifiable in the field.

Sensitive Areas that are readily identifiable in the field include surface waters, wetlands, rivers, and agricultural and inhabited areas. Sensitive areas that are not readily identifiable in the field include public groundwater supplies, public surface water supplies, and private water supplies.

For guardrail, curb and barrier spray, the following field markers shall be used: NO-SPRAY limits shall be indicated using RED signs at either end of the limits; SPRAY limits shall be GREEN.

For invasive species treatment areas, spray limits will be flagged the using painted wood survey stakes, or landscape flags. ORANGE stakes will indicate limits of Spray area.