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There are thousands of studies that have shown various types of health damage from exposure to a wide range of pesticides. Damage can occur at very low levels of exposure and can show up at any time, from before birth to the senior years.
The ways in which such damage occurs vary based on the complex interaction of factors such as the timing, quantity, and length of exposure, co-exposure to other toxic substances, and the unique vulnerability of any one person. It remains very difficult to predict who is going to be harmed, and in what way. However, there is growing evidence that basic factors over which no one has any control, such as a person's genes, can play a big role in a susceptibility to such injury.
One gene that is known to make people more vulnerable to pesticides is called PON1, which can exist in several forms. The combination of pesticide exposure and the presence of some form of PON1 has been documented in many peer-reviewed journals as being linked with serious health problems such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, cardiovascular disease, and premature birth (which itself also has well-established links to a range of subsequent health problems throughout life).
In addition to damage enabled by genetic traits, pesticides have been shown to cause epigenetic damage that can affect an individual, and even subsequent heirs of that person, even WITH no additional exposures. Epigenetics is the process through which the function of a gene is altered, even though it's basic genetic structure remains intact. The field of epigenetics has exploded in recent years, and it's plausible that many more epigenetic problems caused by pesticides and other substances will soon be discovered. Such discoveries may well help explain the causes of many of the major chronic health problems that recently have skyrocketed in prevalence, and that together now burden about one-third of the population. Among these are asthma, autism, allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome, and chemical sensitivities.
Along with genetic and epigenetic damage, pesticides are a primary culprit in a wide range of chronic disorders, including chemical sensitivities, that are facilitated by a `vicious cycle` of biochemistry problems, according to research scheduled to be published October 23, 2009, by Dr. Martin Pall in the 6-volume series `Genetic and Applied Toxicology.` This series, which is a mainstay of the toxicology profession, was last updated in 1999; the upcoming publication promises to provide a quantum leap in our understanding of many human toxicology issues.
Given all the known avenues through which many classes of pesticides cause serious health problems, pesticides should be assumed to be potentially harmful unless proven safe. Since just a tiny fraction of the 80,000+ industrial chemicals circulating in our environment have been studied for a relatively wide range of toxic effects, and none have been studied comprehensively, including all pesticides, that means that a very cautious approach to pesticide use is warranted. That's especially true if the pesticides are being used just to improve perceived aesthetics of a setting; such use doesn't justify the health risks that must be borne by people in the area.Return to the top of this page
Exposures to pesticides, herbicides, insecticides - biocides in general - are credited by many people who have MCS/EI as having caused and continuing to aggravate their illness. The following links lead to much more information about the uses and misuses of these materials and the use of alternative control, measures such as Integrated Pest Management techniques, to avoid or minimize having to use or be exposed to biocides -
Perhaps unique to Boulder, Colorado -
Rocky Mountain National Park (northwest of Denver, Colorado) does use pesticides for treating some trees in the Park. A notification letter is mailed out periodically to advise pesticide sensitive persons of pending pesticide applications. To request your name be added to the list, contact -
The U.S. Geological Survey has developed maps, using 1999 - 2004 data, that show the geographical distribution of average annual agricultural pesticide use. You must know which pesticides you want data for before going to the web site. A caution is that this data may no longer be supported in the future, as the USDA has suspended its reports of pesticides applied to food, fiber, and feed crops in May 2008.
The State of Colorado has a Pesticide Registry Database where you can be listed, along with the addresses of your adjacent properties. Any pesticide applicator is supposed to give you a 24-hour prior warning before any pesticide or biocide application takes place in your area. Presumably other states have similar services; check with your State information service.
As of June 2010, the following address is also listed -
There is a widespread lack on knowledge about the existence of this database; many people who have reason to avoid pesticides do not even know about it. In an informal survey in a neighborhood of about 100 homes, at least 15 homes had people with health problems aggravated by pesticide exposure and had medical reason to totally avoid it. Yet, only one one person was listed in the registry. Any public health decisions based on the current listings are probably woefully inadequate.Return to the top of this page
While many people with environmental illness (EI's) need to totally avoid pesticide exposures, concerns about pesticide use in the general population continue to grow. Canadian doctors are urging their patients to comprehensively avoid all these products. Here are links to more information on this subject.
Research is demonstrating that genetic damage caused by pesticide exposure can be inherited, for as much a four generations. Here are some links to get more information on this discovery.
Research has demonstrated that significant pesticide residues appear in tobacco smoke. Spectrochromatic research by Dr. Kent Voorhees at the Colorado School of Mines, in Golden, Colorado, has demonstrated that the residues of several pesticides definitely survive the combustion process and are present in tobacco smoke. The following pesticides were identified -
Unfortunately, there was apparently no research done on the pyrolization (partial oxidation) or oxidation byproducts of the combustion process.
As much as ten percent of the pesticide applied to the tobacco crop is reported as appearing in the sidestream smoke. The tobacco industry uses some 25 million pounds of pesticides a year. This means over 2 million pounds of pesticides appear in the air around us. And especially near the tobacco addicts. People with MCS who have been through detailed clinical testing report much the same reaction to various pesticides and tobacco smoke. In practice, a person with an MCS reaction to pesticides, breathing tobacco smoke amounts to having someone blow pesticides in their face.
Further information is available at -
Of course, for completeness, tobacco smoke also contains acetone, acetyldehyde, ammonia, benzene, butryaldehyde, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, nitric oxide, toluene, and other "secret" - and often unregulated - manufacturer's additives. Formaldehyde is recognized as an MCS aggravant, but apparently little is known about the pyrolization or oxidation byproducts of these materials or how they affect the person with MCS. What is known that environmental medicine doctors have, such as via sub-lingual laboratory testing, demonstrated that people with MCS have similar, and sometimes severe, reactions to both pesticide and tobacco smoke extracts. To the extent of the patient passing out and coming to in the nurse's office! Much more realistic science based research is needed in this area.
A pitfall that has caused misunderstandings for some people with MCS is that "classical" allergists have been known to test people who say tobacco smoke as a problem for them with "tobacco" - which turns out to be tobacco leaf extract - and then claim "the patient is not bothered by smokers." Insist that you are tested with real tobacco smoke extract if you have any clinical testing done.
A search of the Tobacco Industry archives reveals that tobacco companies have been heavily involved in influencing and weakening pesticide regulations on a world-wide basis for many years. The following papers show how the industry has worked to forestall pesticide regulation by promoting "self regulation" in Europe and how one company promoted high exposure levels in Europe and Malaysia while keeping tobacco industry involvement a secret from regulators.
On July 21st and 22nd 2008, Eldora Ski Resort and the U.S. Forest Service sprayed 1000 trees with carbaryl (a toxic pesticide) for Mountain Pine Beetle. That evening a toxic, lingering odor was noticed in the Eldora valley and at least 8 local residents became ill, 2 required medical care, and several were sick for weeks or months afterward with symptoms typical of carbaryl poisoning. Many were either older or had chronic health problems. One resident, already especially sensitive to pesticides, is still unable to return to her home because of lingering contamination (carbaryl takes _much_ longer to break down indoors).
When the Eldora Civic Association requested a 2.5 mile buffer zone from any future spraying, the USFS denied that drift from their spray operation could have caused the problem. They did, however, suggest that perhaps pesticide drifting across the divide from Grand County (12 miles away) may have been what made Eldora residents sick! The USFS has stated that they plan to spray the Eldora area again this summer despite the suffering that has followed and the strong objections of the neighboring community.
Eldora residents met with the ski resort management, presented them with petition signatures, expressed the community's health and environmental concerns, and offered to raise volunteers to help implement a less toxic beetle management plan that has already successfully been used to reduce tree loss in other areas. The ski resort management said that they are happy with the results of last year's spray application, and that they plan to spray again this year following the same protocol as in 2008.
The winds in the Eldora area are notoriously erratic. Since air concentrations of pesticides peak between 8 and 24 hours _after_ application, it is *_impossible_* to guarantee that the wind direction and speed will not change and cause toxic pesticide vapor to drift into the community and potentially harm its many high-risk residents.
Nearby Grand county has been spraying carbaryl heavily for several years; now their water is contaminated, their forests are dead and brown anyway, and their residents are angry. The consensus among foresters and researchers alike is that the beetle problem is natural, cyclical, and unstoppable, and that spraying doesn't work. Yet businesses and government officials continue to make decisions that cause long-term human suffering and environmental tragedy in exchange for negligible short-term gain.
The fact that people have been sick and displaced from their homes has been completely discounted. One person is still homeless and sick, another has yet to fully recover his health following last year's spraying. Boulder Creek (supplying drinking water for both Nederland and Boulder) lies just _below_ the spray area.
Also, the USFS should do air monitoring for VAPOR DRIFT. This hasn't been done and if/when they spray again, it should be done. In the past, they've monitored droplets or particles using drift cards (at different places, not at Eldora), which don't pick up what is carried (potentially for miles) in vapor form.
Since there is potential harm, they should monitor impacts. But it needs to be done for a wide region, as it all will depend on which way the winds blow!
Some of this land belongs to us and our tax dollars are supporting this poisoning of our people and environment.
Boulder Daily Camera Coverage -
Mountain Residents Worry about Beetle Spray.
Colorado Daily Coverage -
Carbaryl Shows Up in Boulder's Water Supply.
The Eldora Ski Resort has sprayed its area with carbaryl again - without warning the people in Eldora ahead of time. It happened over the course of a week or two.
The USFS sprayed for 3 days but thankfully, the info was on their pesticide hotline number, so at least people had access to the information.
The drift didn't settle in Eldora like it did last year so no one got sick (though maybe as many as a dozen folks evacuated!).
One resident - who has been denied use of her house for about a year from last year's spraying - has had to resort to wrapping her house in building wrap plastic for this last round of spraying.
(Eldora is a small community from the mining days, at 8730 feet elevation and the last stop on the Switzerland Railroad in 1900, is located northwest of Denver, Colorado.)
If you have children who would be using the Eldora recreation area, the Arapahoe Pass hiking trails, or if you feel strongly about this issue, the following people would probably appreciate hearing from you -
RMEHA would welcome receiving a short response from any of the above-mentioned parties that we could add to this web site.Return to the top of this page
The State of California is listing the pesticide Carbaryl as both a Male Reproductive Toxicant and also as a Developmental Toxicant. Carbaryl is sold under the trade name Sevin® for a wide variety of household insect controls.Return to the top of this page
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads in part as follows -
"... nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation."
Legal decisions have ruled that in order for the government to seize property, the public need not actually use the property, but rather the property must be used to promote the public's interest or welfare.Return to the top of this page
An alternative to the common "DEET" insect repellant is available at -
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Here are several search engines in case you wish to do more research from this page -Return to the top of this page
Follow the links below to learn more about RMEHA and Environmental Illness.