Newsletter 41
Welcome to the Spring issue of the PEX Newsletter, and a(belated) Happy New Year to all our readers. However, thisis a difficult time of year for many PEX sufferers, asspraying gets underway again in many parts of the country.
PAN UK has already started to receive calls about localcouncils spraying herbicide on pavements. This inefficientand unnecessary practice causes much human and animalpesticide exposure that could easily be avoided, asdiscussed in the article on Blanket Spraying.
It is good therefore to be able to report on some morepositive news. In a recent vote in the European Parliament,tougher pesticide legislation in the European Union wasvoted in by an astonishing 90% of MEPs. Sadly, the UKgovernment says it will not ratify the legislation. However,the UK is isolated in this, and will not be able to preventthe new regulations from becoming law. PAN UK policyofficer Nick Mole reports on the vote, and on ongoinglobbying work in the UK.
Please don’t forget you can write in to PEX news at anytime with your experiences, questions, comments, orrequests to make contact with other readers. Contactdetails are at the end of the newsletter.
Ruth Beckmann (Information Officer, PAN UK) The PEX project provides information about pesticides, and puts exposure sufferers in contact with one another Blanket spraying of amenity
treatments. Sadly many councils and their pesticides must stop
contractors are not prepared to go down thisroute as a result of higher costs.
An issue that PAN UK has been following andwhich has recently been highlighted by one of PAN UK has raised this issue with the Minister our supporters is that of blanket spraying of pesticides to control weeds on pavements and unconvincing reply requesting evidence that there is a problem. We will be gatheringevidence, and launching a bigger initiative inthe coming months.
What can you do? In the first instance if yousee people blanket spraying herbicides pleaselet us know where and when it took place. Ifpossible take a picture, although don’t putyourself at risk. Let us know of any incidentswhere people or animals have been affected.
You could also talk to your local council andask that they insist that their contractors usespot treatment or try and encourage them touse non-chemical control methods. There are Blanket spraying refers to the practise of indiscriminate spraying of herbicides over ‘Pesticide Spraying – Your Rights (in urban people on quad bikes riding and spraying at or the same time. There are many reasons why contact PAN UK for a hard copy. Finally, if you this practise should be stopped immediately: it have any success with your local council, let is an inefficient way of applying pesticides and uses far more than is needed to treat areas; itcan cause run-off into drains and thus Nick Mole (Policy Officer, PAN UK) potentially contaminate water supplies; it canhit non target areas, destroying them;residues are left on pavements where people EU votes to protect human health
and animals can come into contact with them;and quad bikes on or near pavements can In January this year the European Parliament pose a risk to pedestrian safety. Of course, voted by overwhelming majority to adopt new many PEX sufferers also report that it triggers legislation that will ban the use of some of the most hazardous pesticides. The legislationincludes the creation of an EU pesticide Is there an alternative? Yes there is: if the council insists on spraying hard surfaces with production. The pesticides that will be banned methods. This would target only the areas needed and could result in 50% less herbicide being applied. It would also eliminate thedanger posed by marauding quad bikes.
The legislation will also introduce new controlson how and where pesticides can be used. In Of course the best solution would be to use particular there will be a requirement to stop methods instead such as hot water and flame present, including schools, parks and hospitals.
effects of hazardous pesticides. It met with The measures also offer far greater protection for Europe’s honeybees. Bees are essential for Parliament; however, the majority of dissenting the pollination of up to 80 million tonnes of EU food produce – yet industry figures reveal thatup to 20% of pesticides may be toxic to bees.
Opposition to the legislation is also the positionof the UK Government, as has been made Whilst it is fair to say that the legislation could abundantly clear by Mr Benn. Following the have gone a lot further it has created a new vote, Mr Benn publicly stated that the UK way of thinking about the authorization of Government would not ratify the legislation.
pesticides. PAN UK welcomes the move from risk to hazard based criteria for assessing meetings with representatives of the Crop whether a pesticide can be used in the EU.
Protection Association, a body that representsthe interests of the agrochemical industry, the Unfortunately, the legislation has not been popular amongst UK politicians who seemmore interested in protecting the interests of PAN UK, the Soil Association, Friends of the the agrochemical industry than the health and 3rd February requesting a meeting in order to Parliament showed that 577 MEPs voted for the legislation and 61 against. Of those 61 that highlighted the fact that the new legislation voted against 56 were from the UK. The UK aims to replace the most hazardous pesticides environment secretary, Hilary Benn, has also currently in use, including chemicals that cause publicly stated that the UK will not ratify the cancer and affect reproduction as well as legislation when it is discussed at the Council presenting threats to the environment and bio- of Ministers. This really shows how out of step diversity. To date there has been no response the UK is with the rest of the EU. For more on this please see “Who is Hilary Benn trying tokid?”, below.
There is no danger at this stage that thelegislation will not be ratified, as a majority of Nick Mole (Policy Officer, PAN UK) EU members support it. However, once againthe UK finds itself out of step with the rest ofEurope on a key issue affecting the health and Who is Hilary Benn trying to kid?
For more information, including a list of the UK MEPs who voted against the legislation, and a Secretary, Hilary Benn, said that UK farming copy of PAN UK’s letter to Hilary Benn, please needs to be environmentally sustainable whilst “The soil, the water, the air, the forests are the If you are concerned by the UK Government’s opposition to this important piece of legislation therefore our existence, depends” stated Mr and believe it should be ratified at the Council Benn. Fine sentiments indeed but they appear of Ministers please make your views known by to be completely at odds with his statements writing to Hilary Benn at the address given; about the recent EU pesticides legislation that Rt. Hon Hilary Benn MP, Secretary of State, Department of Environment, Food and RuralAffairs, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London The new legislation is designed to protect the people and environment of the EU from the Nick Mole (Policy Officer, PAN UK) Largest ever study of children’s
Pesticides a cause of Gulf War
health gets underway in US
Illness, US panel concludes
The largest ever study into children’s health and the environment finally began recruiting in congress has concluded that Gulf War Illness(GWI) was caused by chemical exposures,including pesticides.
The Research Advisory Committee on Gulf WarVeterans' Illnesses presented a report inNovember 2008, which brought togetherscientific research and governmentinvestigations into GWI. The report refutes theview that these illnesses are stress-related,and acknowledges the urgent obligation toaddress the health needs of Gulf WarVeterans.
At least 1 in 4 veterans of the 1991 Gulf Warsuffer from GWI, which is characterized by Jan 2009, after years of planning and research.
cognitive problems, persistent headaches,unexplained fatigue and pain. The new report The National Children’s Study was authorised attributes this range of symptoms primarily to 100,000 children, from before birth to age 21.
pyridostigmine bromide, given to soldiers to protect against nerve agents. Other exposures ‘environment’ and will look at a wide range may also be associated with GWI, including factors which may impact on a child’s health smoke from oil-well fires and other neurotoxic surroundings, social factors, genetics – andchemical exposures, including pesticides. The study is thus very complex, but because of its criticised by some, on the grounds that a size it may offer a powerful tool to examine similar pattern of illness has not emerged how these environmental factors interact to among veterans of the Iraq war of 2003, where affect children’s – and adults’ – health.
pesticides and pyridostigmine bromide werealso widely used.
Interaction between genes and
Using pesticides may impact
environment leads to Parkinson’s
women’s fertility
This study in the Journal of Occupational and Another piece of evidence linking pesticides Environmental medicine looked at pregnant and Parkinson's disease has been published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
asked how many months it had taken them to Researchers in California found that individuals become pregnant. They were also asked about their exposure to pesticides through work, exposed to high levels of pesticides, were more pesticides in the home, or their partner’s use of likely to have the movement disorder.
pesticides. Blood tests were taken for DDTand DDE (a breakdown product of DDT).
Previous studies have found that people withcertain genes seem to be more susceptible to DDT was found in the women’s blood, but Parkinson's disease (PD). In this study, the there was no relationship between DDT levels researchers tested for these genes in people with and without PD. They also measured the women who worked in agriculture, lived within subjects' exposure to two pesticides, maneb and paraquat, both widely used in the area. To pesticides at home, took longer to conceive.
do this they used official records and computer This suggests that some of the pesticides in current use may affect fertility. Paternal relied solely on people's recall to assess exposure to pesticides was not associated with Individuals who were carrying one or more of exposure was high, were much more likely to have PD – and the more of the genes theywere carrying, the greater the risk. However, no increased risk was found in those who had hadlittle or no pesticide exposure, no matter howmany of the genes they had.
These findings add weight to the evidence that,for some people at least, pesticide exposureincreases the risk of Parkinson's disease. Contact PEX
For any comments or suggestions, for more information about the PEX project, or to place a notice in the newsletter, please contact


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