Pesticide Information for the Royal Commission On Pollution Buffer Zones Notification of Use The Right to Know How Safe is the Science? Decisions Made By DEFRA No Science to support Buffer Zones A “Trial Area” only for Notification Third Parties to Control Access to Information about the Pesticides Used Was DEFRA Correct? • What is regarded as scientific evidence? • Are adverse health effects known? • Do the monitoring systems work? • Is evidence being ignored? Scientific Evidence Includes • Recognised symptoms of pesticide exposure • Recognised properties of pesticides • Recognised routes of exposure • Peer reviewed reports of drift effects • Officially recognised incident confirmation • Incidents of linked illness reported to the authorities but not officially recognised • Medical records of induced symptoms • Known risks to vulnerable individuals Pesticide Induced Symptoms • Restricted breath/asthma • Muscle pain/tremors • Digestive upsets/diarrhoea • Memory loss • Heart rate irregularity • Visual disturbance • Sweating/skin lesions • Chemical sensitivity • Running nose/eyes/saliva • Cognitive defects • Sore throat/voice loss • Neurological diseases • Headaches/anxiety • Foetal abnormalities • Joint/bone disorders • Cancers • Diabetes/hypoglycaemia • Hormone disruption Pesticides Include • Arsenicals • Carbamates • Organochlorines • Organophosphates • Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids • Genetically Modified toxins • Acids, such as Sulphuric Acid • Hormone disrupters • Co-formulants which increase toxicity Routes Of Exposure • Direct contact with pesticide or packaging • Exposure to spray drift • Exposure to volatile pesticide vapour releases • Contact with sprayed crop or contaminated areas • Inhalation of contaminated air • Drinking contaminated water • Eating contaminated food • Tracking into the home via pets or humans • Contaminated clothing or footwear Bioaccumulation is Dangerous • Bioaccumulation results from the use of pesticides which are lipophilic and which persist in the environment for a long time • Many pesticides in common use are both lipophilic and persistent - including many organochlorines and organophosphates • Spray drift contaminates surrounding areas and non-target species, including man Persistent Pesticides • Bio accumulate • Present risk of long-term exposure • Enter the food chain • Concentrate in higher animals and man • Are difficult to remove from the environment and from the human body. • Can induce long-term health effects Each Type of Pesticide Acts on Different Functions in the Body Arsenicals Organochlorines • Blood vessel damage • Nervous system toxins • Enzyme inhibitors • Block GABA channels • Hormone disruptors Organophosphates • Nervous system toxins Pyrethrins • Peripheral neuropathy • Enzyme disruptors • Nervous system toxins • Damage DNA/RNA • Sensitisation • Limit oxygen transport Other Pesticide Actions Pyrethroids Type I Chlorphenoxy • Nervous system toxins Compounds • Nervous system toxins Pyrethroids Type II • Peripheral neuropathy • Cause paresthesias • Metabolic poisons • Block sodium channel • Skin and mucous • Inhibit GABA membrane irritants More Pesticide Actions Carbamates Dipyridyls -paraquat • Nervous system toxins • Corrosive • Similar in action to • Membrane poisons organophosphates but the action is reversible • No antidote Triazines Phthalimides • Mucous membranes • Nervous system toxins • Endocrine system • Glucose metabolism Actions of Co-Formulants • Can increase toxicity of active ingredients • Can be extremely toxic in their own right • Can be volatile with toxic vapours • Can cause cancer e.g. benzene & leukaemia • Can have insecticidal properties • Can protect the active ingredient • Can prolong activity of the formulation • Can trigger chemical sensitivity reactions Multiple Exposures Are Dangerous • Each poison targets different enzymes • Each poison adds to cumulative damage • Repeated exposures can cause permanent changes and long-term effects • When suffering from the effects of a pesticide further exposures to that or any other should be avoided until recovery is complete • Mixtures of pesticides are frequently used • Pesticide/medicine combinations can be deadly Symptoms can be Non-Specific Such as • Flu-like symptoms including dizziness, malaise, coughs, sore throat, headaches • Rashes or reddened skin, sweating • Gastrointestinal symptoms, nausea, vomiting • Blurred vision, seizures or strokes • Heart rate abnormalities • Effects of odours - which are not necessarily the toxicological effects of the active ingredient alone Pesticide Symptoms can Mimic Those of Other Illnesses • Asthma • Meningitis • Influenza • Bronchitis • Heart Attack • Epilepsy • Brain haemorrhage • Alcoholism • Diabetes • Parkinson’s Disease • Gastroenteritis • Multiple Sclerosis • Pneumonia • Alzheimer’s Disease • Viral infection • Heat Stroke Contraindicated Treatments • Theophylline / Aminophylline for asthma • Certain antibiotics • Antidepressants • Anaesthetics • Painkillers such as morphine • A host of others too numerous to mention which act on the same biological pathways Poisoning Recognised Officially • Numerous PIAP reports in UK alone have confirmed poisoning from single episodes of exposure to spray drift • Thousands of poisoning cases are recognised annually around the world • The adverse effects of drift are well known Unrecognised Poisoning Cases • In the UK there is a reluctance to recognise any pesticide poisoning cases • That is made worse by the unknown causes of many serious illnesses such as cancer, ME, asthma or Parkinson’s Disease • Even direct poisoning cases are hidden as seen in the Sheep Dip and OP litigation Inadequate Medical Care The graph below indicates the lack of available medical treatment in the UK (deaths – treatment) Source USA (2002) – http://www.aoec.org 10 00 80 0 60 0 40 0 20 0 0 pi Ho s tal izatio ns Co s ta Fa ta li tie s Sri Ri ca Swe den La nka U.K. U.S.A. A Village in the UK where Pesticides are used Intensively Known Illnesses in Past or Current Residents in that Area Confirmed Illnesses to Date in the Village of Thorley include • Cancers • 39 of which 27 died • M.E. • 9 cases (6 left village) • Neurological problems • 9 cases 2 confirmed as • (4 died) pesticide poisoning • Serious heart problems • 13 of which 10 died • Asthma • Numerous cases • Joint/bone problems • Numerous cases often in ex-farm workers Evidence of Harmful Effects • Studies show adverse effects in children • Effects in pesticide applicators • Studies of pesticide use and effects in schools and hospitals • Tracking of pesticides into homes • Persistence of pesticides after application • Evidence in law of recognised long-term effects from repeated low-dose exposures Medical Records • The correct tests are often not offered • Availability of testing is often denied • Test results are often hidden or falsified • Supporting medical opinion is ignored • Medical records are withheld • Lack of that information is then used to claim there is no risk from pesticides Risks to Vulnerable People • Foetal exposures – developmental changes • Children - susceptible to low exposures • Those already poisoned, or on medication • Patients with cancer, MS, Parkinson’s etc. • Elderly patients • Anyone with infection, M.E. or asthma • Those with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Children are at Greatest Risk • Immune systems are still forming • Greater exposure relative to weight • Hand to mouth contact more frequent • Often crawling or playing in treated areas • Unaware of any risk • Unaware of appropriate precautions • Vulnerable and need greater protection Reasons for Notification • To allow the vulnerable to be protected • To allow those who can to move away • To ensure that children are indoors • To reduce post-application exposures by physical contact with sprayed areas • To ensure no contamination of washing • To allow time to seal homes if necessary Reasons for Right to Direct Pesticide Information Access • Some treatments are ineffective after 24 hrs • Third party involvement increases costs • Less likelihood of error • Information required for correct diagnosis • Diagnosis required for safe treatment • Less Secrecy = Greater Trust • Greater trust improves rural relationships Dangers of Using a Third Party • Delay in obtaining information • Additional costs • Increased likelihood of error • Need to persuade Third Party to act • Uncertain knowledge of subject • Regular updates required • Information easily overtaken by events • Additional Data Protection problems Is the DEFRA Science Flawed? • Pesticides are more persistent than claimed • Exposures are more prolonged than claimed • Exposures are rarely to a single chemical • Accurate exposure measurement impossible • Induced effects are easily missed • Records are dangerously inaccurate • Powerful vested interests are involved Current Legislation • Demands protection of human health • Requires pre-marketing pesticide approval • Requires control of pesticide use • Protects non-target organisms – people? • Demands that least toxic methods are used • Requires pesticide records to be kept • But regulations are rarely enforced • Without enforcement there are no laws Conclusions • Buffer Zones are essential to protect health • Pesticide testing is inadequate • Advance notification for the vulnerable and direct access to detailed information about the pesticides used is essential • DEFRA has failed to protect the public or the environment from dangerous toxins • The National Health Service has failed to protect individuals poisoned by pesticides The Way Forward • The Government must remove from positions of influence all those who have provided false information • Testing and treatment centres should be established in all areas as part of a health improvement programme • All pesticides must be properly tested by independent laboratories before approval • An Independent Inquiry into the entire issue • Prosecute Officials who have acted unlawfully Towards Public Protection • Every means available should be enacted to protect children and vulnerable groups • All pesticide laws, regulations, and recommendations should be legally binding on those who use pesticides • Enforcement of those regulations is the key to a more healthy population and a cleaner environment for us all Questions for DEFRA • Where is your independent science? • Why do you ignore contrary evidence? • Do you understand the human metabolism? • Will you stop providing false or unreliable information to Ministers and the public? • Will you ever put the safety of public health before the interests of industry?
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