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    Environmentalists Almost Killed My Friend
    By Josh Bloom | July 2nd 2014 04:07 PM | 68 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Josh

    Director of chemical and pharmaceutical sciences at The American Council on Science and Health in New York since 2010.

    Former research chemist

    ...

    View Josh's Profile
    I am fortunate enough to have a small cottage on Fire Island.

    The island is a barrier beach, located about five miles off the south shore of Long Island. It is a wonderful, unique place. There are no roads or cars. And no stress, which is especially astounding, since it is only 50 miles (and a short ferry trip) from Manhattan.

    We may not have cars, roads or stress, but we have mosquitos— plenty of them.

    The island is a 32-mile long sand spit, which is mostly undeveloped. There are 17 different communities, ranging in size from six houses to 600. Mine is called Ocean Beach, which is the largest, and one of two towns to have its own government. Among other things, this enables us to opt out of the mosquito control program, which is run by the Suffolk County Department of Health.

    Which we had done for at least 30 years. 

    So, during mosquito season, while people in other communities are able to sit on their decks and enjoy the evening, we suffer from the insect equivalent of Pearl Harbor. And it's not merely an annoyance. 

    Ocean Beach had been playing Insect Russian Roulette for three decades. In the summer of 2012 there was a bullet in the chamber. 

    The last thing my good friend and neighbor Jim C. needed was another health concern. Thanks to the miraculous drug Avastin, he was in good health six years following a diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer. So, what happened next was especially appalling.


    In August, Jim spent a week at his house. Like the rest of us, he was bitten alive. But most of the rest of us do not have a compromised immune system. Or maybe just lousy luck. 


    His last memory of that summer was returning to New York and not feeling well. His next memory was somehow waking from a medically induced coma 10 days later. Fortunately, his son was at home the next morning when Jim suffered a grand mal seizure, or he would have died.  Jim had contracted West Nile encephalitis during his vacation week. From mosquitos.


    Jim is one tough SOB. After months of physical therapy he was OK. But, when I found out, I was not. I was furious—mostly at the village's environmental committee, which had been steadfastly opposing spraying for as long as anyone could remember. Since the village administration follows the committee's recommendation on these matters, while communities a few minutes away were being regularly sprayed by Suffolk County vector control, Ocean Beach was not. Their reasoning? "It's poison!" and "it will kill the spiders that eat the mosquitoes." 


    Not to belabor the obvious, but if the f####ing spiders were doing such a fine job of eating the mosquitoes, then we wouldn't be having the problem in the first place.


    In the communities that were being sprayed, life was just fine. Birds were not dropping out of the sky. People were not growing arms out of their backs. No one was harmed. Why? Because the insecticide that Suffolk County uses is called Anvil, and if there is a safer "poison" out there, good luck finding it. 


    The following spring, in front of a village meeting I managed to control my tongue and temper as I explained the folly of our policy. Without explicitly calling the environmental committee idiots, I pointed out a few facts. For example, Anvil is actually less toxic than DEET, which you practically needed to power wash yourself with just to go outside after dusk. (In all fairness to them, this policy was instituted long before any of them were on the committee, but they continued to support it until I made a stink.)


    Since a picture is worth 2,000 words (aphorism inflation) I handed out sheets containing safety data from the National Fire Prevention Agency (NFPA). (The NFPA has a huge database containing almost all chemicals. It is used to determine hazards in case of a fire or spill.) 
    The following is rather self-explanatory:



    The blue diamond indicates toxicity, which ranges from 0 (water) to 4 (you are toast). 

    One thing that jumps off the page is that Anvil is in a lower toxicity category than DEET. Which begs the question, "Why would you spray more toxic stuff on yourself when you can spray less toxic stuff on the bugs?" There were no good answers to this.

    After my spiel, Jim got up and told them what happened to him. That was the end of that argument. Except for a few granola heads, it was unanimous.The mindless policy of the environmental committee was doomed. Some of them looked like they wanted to load up a shotgun with organic sea salt and pump a few rounds into me.

    Soon thereafter, the village changed its policy, and joined the Suffolk County mosquito eradication program. The summer of 2013 was blissfully mosquito free. 


    But, this year I was naturally concerned whether we would slip back to the foolish policies of the past. The good news is that we have not done so. Suffolk County vector control will continue the program this year.

    But not before it issued the following warning:
    Steps you should take: Children and pregnant women should take care to avoid exposure when practical. If possible, remain inside or avoid the area whenever spraying takes place and for about 30 minutes after spraying. Close windows and doors and close the vents of window air-conditioning units to circulate indoor air or, before spraying begins, turn them off. Windows and air-conditioning vents can be reopened about 30 minutes after spraying. If you come in direct contact with pesticide spray, protect your eyes. If you get pesticide spray in your eyes, immediately rinse them with water. Wash exposed skin. Wash clothes that come in direct contact with spray separately from other laundry. Consult your health care provider if you think you are experiencing health effects from spraying.
    Steps you may want to take: The materials used by Vector Control do not leave significant residues on surfaces, but exposure can be reduced even further. Pick homegrown fruits and vegetables you expect to eat soon before spraying takes place. Rinse homegrown fruits and vegetables (in fact all produce) thoroughly with water before cooking or eating. Bring laundry and small toys inside before spraying begins. (Wash with detergent and water if exposed to pesticides during spraying.) Bring pet food and water dishes inside, and cover ornamental fishponds during the spray period to avoid direct exposure.


    Excuse me? 

    Is this a safe product, or something Saddam Hussein was tossing at Iran in 1980?



    Well, it's the former, but you wouldn't know this from reading that superlative example of government CYA. 

    So, I poked around a bit more, knowing that I could scream until I was blue in the face, but no one would really believe me if they read Suffolk County's DEFCON 1 warning. 


    Here's what I found. And if the irony of all of this happens to escapes you, drop me a line and I'll explain it. 




    Yes—what you are seeing is real. Anvil and sand have the identical NFPA safety diamond. And if there's a better way to screw with the heads of anxious people who live on a beach, I can't think of it. 

    But I can't blame them. It is hysteria-producing nonsense like this that leads any non-scientist to conclude that we are systematically being poisoned every day. The terms "chemical" and "toxin" are now essentially interchangeable, despite the fact that this is dead wrong. 

    Lest you think that chemical insanity is confined to a 32-mile beach, I happened upon something even crazier while doing my homework: California's Proposition 65. 

    I have written about this in the past, and if you are looking for an example of utter insanity, look no further. 

    Proposition 65, aka The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 became law in California after a statewide vote (nearly 2:1 in favor). Its purpose was to keep icky things out of the water supply. Which is perfectly fine. But it turned into something rather different. Since enforcement of Prop 65 depends on civil suits against "violators," It has become a cottage industry "for private attorneys, some of whose businesses are built entirely on filing Proposition 65 lawsuits." Which means goodbye common sense. Which explains much of the rest of this.

    The new law required that chemicals and other substances, which were deemed to be potential carcinogens or reproductive toxins be listed at least once per year. Anything manufactured, sold or used in California that contained anything on the list was required to be labeled: "This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm."

    There are roughly 800 chemicals on the list, and many belong there. But some clearly do not.

    For example, the following chemicals and products are on the list: gasoline, alcohol, tetracycline, aspirin, codeine, nickel, oral contraceptives, and Chinese style salted fish. 

    And sand. No—I'm not kidding. 

    In fact, if you look up sand in the catalog of Sigma-Aldrich—the biggest supplier of research chemicals—you will find the following warnings:
    • Suspected of causing cancer.   
    • May cause damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure if inhaled.   
    • Obtain special instructions before use.   
    • Do not handle until all safety precautions have been read and understood.   
    • Do not breathe dust/ fume/ gas/ mist/ vapors/ spray.   
    • Use personal protective equipment as required.   
    • If exposed or concerned: Get medical advice/ attention.    
    • Store locked up. 
    • Dispose of contents/ container to an approved waste disposal plant.   
    Can't make this s###t up. Yes—next time you go to the beach (assuming that you ever do) make sure that you get special instructions for how to use the sand, don't breathe any of it, wear a gas mask, go to your doctor immediately after you leave the beach, and dispose of the entire beach in a locked, approved waste container.


    Is it any wonder that everyone is scared of everything. But I guess this is the price you pay when you pay a lawyer $1,000 per hour to make sure that you won't get sued for not providing a "proper" warning for everything (and nothing).

    Let's finish with some random observations:
    • If you think that environmental groups will put bugs ahead of human health, you are not crazy.
    • There are consequences when this happens. Just ask Jim.
    •  Unless you are a chemist, it is virtually impossible to determine which scares are real and which are not.
    • You better believe that environmental groups and government agencies gleefully take advantage of this. It's called job security.
    So, I wish all of you a mosquito-free summer. And if you happen to want to risk your life by going to the beach, and somehow make it to the water without getting cancer, be careful. It's all over the news—there have been multiple sightings of great white sharks in the waters of Long Island this year. 

    Lawyers too.

    Comments

    Okay, so obviously things can get out of hand, but I'm pretty sure the sand health warnings are related to using it for sandblasting, not sand just sitting around at the beach.

    Josh Bloom
    Of course the beach is not a carcinogen. I really doubt anyone will take that seriously. The cancer warning is because of particle size. Very small particles of silica may (or may not) cause a small number of cases of lung cancer.  Even though it may be a bit hyperbolic, I can't think of a better way to point out the craziness of the spray warning as well as Prop 65.
    Josh Bloom
    Hank
    True. Guarapari, Brazil has radiation way above allowable levels in the US but people visit for that reason. I guess being a beach prevents it from turning them into Godzilla.

    And lawyers are trying to get soda on the Prop 65 list now. Voters and courts would never allow a NYC-style ban on Coca-Cola but if SB 1000 gets on the Prop 65 list, the matter is settled.
    Very well written and stated.
    I just wish it had been a letter to the editor in the Fire Island News.
    Anything else you need to get off your chest?
    (grin)

    Josh Bloom
    Too funny. I wrote a letter to the editor 10 or 15 yrs ago about just this. It got printed. Nearly got me lynched. The environmental committee ran around posting rather unpleasant rebukes on every telephone pole on Midway.  People were coming up to me on the street screaming at me. 
     Feel free to use it if you want. Whoever you are ;)
     The rest of my chest is fine at the moment.
    Josh Bloom
    Nicely done. Imagine what it's like for me at farmers markets, where I sell apples?

    "Have those been sprayed?"

    Yes, because I want to sell apples.

    Quote: "Unless you are a chemist, it is virtually impossible to determine which scares are real and which are not." I call that the layman's curse. It makes it impossible to explain to customers who want only "organic" produce. All I can say is, "I follow label instructions."

    KRA5H
    Child being deloused with DDT October 1945 (Source: Getty Images):

    WHO gives indoor use of DDT a clean bill of health for controlling malaria.

    EnviroGard (DDT) MSDS.

    You can also remind the "granola heads" that DDT is recommended for indoor use to fight malaria by the WHO. You can compare the safety of Anvil to DDT.

    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel
    KRA5H
    "Suspected of causing cancer.
    May cause damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure if inhaled.
    Obtain special instructions before use.
    Do not handle until all safety precautions have been read and understood.
    Do not breathe dust/ fume/ gas/ mist/ vapors/ spray.
    Use personal protective equipment as required.
    If exposed or concerned: Get medical advice/ attention.
    Store locked up.
    Dispose of contents/ container to an approved waste disposal plant. "

    Oh yeah, almost forgot. Right next to the sand is an enormous amount of Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO). Take ye heed of the dangers of this lethal substance:

    • Death due to accidental inhalation of DHMO, even in small quantities.
    • Prolonged exposure to solid DHMO causes severe tissue damage.
    • Excessive ingestion produces a number of unpleasant though not typically life-threatening side-effects.
    • DHMO is a major component of acid rain.
    • Gaseous DHMO can cause severe burns.
    • Contributes to soil erosion.
    • Leads to corrosion and oxidation of many metals.
    • Contamination of electrical systems often causes short-circuits.
    • Exposure decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes.
    • Found in biopsies of pre-cancerous tumors and lesions.
    • Given to vicious dogs involved in recent deadly attacks.
    • Often associated with killer cyclones in the U.S. Midwest and elsewhere, and in hurricanes including deadly storms in Florida, New Orleans and other areas of the southeastern U.S.
    • Thermal variations in DHMO are a suspected contributor to the El Nino weather effect.
    source: http://www.dhmo.org/facts.html
    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel
    KRA5H
    " It's all over the news—there have been multiple sightings of great white sharks in the waters of Long Island this year."

    Odds of dying in motor vehicle accident: 1-in-100 (http://www.livescience.com/3780-odds-dying.html)

    Risk of death from shark attack: 1 in 913,200,766 (http://www.medicine.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/booth/risk/shark.html)

    You're vastly more likely to die trying to get to the beach than you are from a shark attack.

    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel
    Josh Bloom
    Steve- I don't know anyone who is really afraid of shark attacks. At least where I go. It was just an excuse to poke fun at lawyers. But, your statistics may be skewed in this case. Getting to beach requires a 2 minute walk in a place where there are no cars. If you can calculate the odds of dying during these two minutes I would love to know them. 
    Josh Bloom
    KRA5H
    I dunno. You could trip, fall, break your neck. According to Live Science, odds of dying from falling down are 1-in-246.
    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel
    Josh Bloom
    If you had any idea of how accident prone I am, you would adjust that number substantially. Maybe 1 in 4.
    Josh Bloom
    Good job Josh, but you forgot a big hazard at the beach, WATER,,,, It can be very easy for children under one year old to absorb too much water at the beach, especially if the child is under nine months old. Because of their small body mass, it is easy to take in a large amount of water relative to body mass and total body sodium stores.
    Obviously, on the island your dog loves to play on the ocean beach, but heed caution. Dogs don’t realize that salt water is dangerous, and excessive intake can result in severe hypernatremia, or salt poisoning. While initial signs of hypernatremia include vomiting and diarrhea, salt poisoning can progress quickly to neurologic signs like incoordination, seizures, progressive depression, and ultimately, severe brain swelling. Maybe safer to stay inside and sip out of your plastic bottles and snack on your chicken nuggets.

    Josh Bloom
    Alex- Thanks. Of course the biggest hazard on the beach is water. As in drowning. I'm a terrible swimmer. Been pulled out of the ocean as many times as a crab net. 
    Josh Bloom
    KRA5H
    Drowning 1-in-8,942. You might want to learn to swim better. If there's surf (breakers) and sandbars there's the potential for rip tide. I've been caught in a couple myself. Don't try to swim against the current.
    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel
    Josh Bloom
    I am incapable of swimming better. After 5 yrs of swimming lessons it became clear that it was hopeless. Reason: I sink. Even in salt water, so the effort it takes just to stay afloat wears me out after about a minute. But after studying the ocean for 55 years, I know what to look for before I even go in (which I do every day). Riptides, undertow, side sweep, you name it. I can handle myself quite well, even in the roughest surf, with the occasional exception. This is why I'm so fond of lifeguards. 
    Josh Bloom
    KRA5H
    If you're only able to tread water for about a minute (taking you literally, not figuratively) then perhaps wearing a flotation vest might help. They're much less cumbersome than a Mae West. You can swim after a wayward water ski after you've fallen of of them better in a vest, well, sort of. In a Mae West you're mostly limited to the backstroke. 
    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel
    Josh Bloom
    Steve- I would rather drown than wear a floaty in the ocean. Roughly equivalent to mounting a sign on my head that says "Look at me! I'm a flaming jackass!"
    Josh Bloom
    drowning, virus carrying bugs, and don't forget skin cancer ! Maybe jumping from a plane is safer than the beach. Just have to worry about one thing, the landing.

    Josh Bloom
    Recently read a great quote about this."You don't need a parachute to jump out of a plane. Only to do it twice."
    Josh Bloom
    As you know Josh, Anvil contains sumithrin (phenothrin), a synthetic pyrethroid. 

    And it's indeed the best way to fight off mosquitoes in areas where they're vectors for diseases. Most pyrethroids exhibit low toxicity in mammals, and they degrade quickly in the environment. The irony is that they belong to the same class of insecticides used by organic farmers, which means that some environmentalists who object to the use of such compounds in mosquito control are inadvertently OK with spraying it on their fruits. In a double-irony, I've also seen people on this site knocking organic foods due to the use of pyrethrum, a chrysanthemum-extracted pyrethroid !
    Josh Bloom
    Enrico- yes, of course I know that natural pyrethroids come from chrysanthemums. And synthetic ones do not. Which is irrelevant. Given the intentional confusion propagated by the organic industry, it's hard to fault people from buying into this.  But the public's ignorance of chemistry goes even further. Try convincing someone that the same pyrethroid (or anything else, really) that is prepared synthetically isn't any different from the same chemical isolated from a living organism. I bet 98% of the country will get this wrong. The rest are probably unemployed chemists.

    It kills me when idiots and shysters refer to something as "being made from petrochemicals," as if this somehow makes it bad for you. 
    Josh Bloom
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Josh, do you have to be so antagonistic about all of this? I don't think it really helps to get people onside especially those who are currently undecided, previously misinformed or under misconceptions about these subjects by making it all seem like a big fight between two warring parties. 
    Surely the science behind these subjects can be revealed and discussed intelligently without everyone having to take sides in such a black and white and intolerant way? Science20 is a science outreach site to educate the public who are interested in the science, so that they can make better informed decisions in the future, as far as I am aware it is not a political site is it? 

    To say that the entire organic industry is propagating intentional confusion is simply not possible when just some of them maybe doing this and ridiculing people and calling the public ignorant is also not very helpful IMHO. I enjoy most of your articles and often share them on twitter and facebook to many of my Byron Bay hippy friends who are sometimes ill-informed and would be interested in understanding the science better, just as I was in the past but I won't be sharing this article because it is too antagonistic and rude to the public in general. I don't see why 98% of the country can't understand that the same pyrethroid that is prepared synthetically isn't any different from the same chemical isolated from a living organism. What's so difficult about that?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    MikeCrow
    I don't see why 98% of the country can't understand that the same pyrethroid that is prepared synthetically isn't any different from the same chemical isolated from a living organism. What's so difficult about that?

    I don't either, but they do! Just look at the marketing of natural vs synthetic vitamins, hell natural vs synthetic anything.
    Never is a long time.
    Josh Bloom
    Hi HelenThanks for writing.
    Yes, I get pretty edgy sometimes. Many people like it, some don't.
    It helps me vent. It can be funny too.

    If this one has an angry tone it's because this one was personal, and profoundly upsetting at the time. And completely unnecessary. It was also a fairly nasty fight, and went on for awhile. I wanted to let people know in no uncertain terms how badly they screwed up and the consequences. So, in a sense this was exactly a fight between two warring parties. 

    Regarding the organic food industry, the more I study it, the more I'm convinced that its success is due to marketing, and that the marketing is often based on fear, and also on ignorance. 

    I'm guessing you know that organic farming uses insecticides, and I'm sure they are quite happy to let people labor under the false impression that they do not. "Certified organic" crops have a different list of approved pesticides. One of the is called rotenone, and it is more toxic than Anvil or most other pesticides that are used today. It gets a free ride because it is from a natural source, which is completely irrelevant. This is another myth the organic food relies on. The term natural is ubiquitous, and gives people the false impression that this has anything to do with safety. It does not.

    The same holds true for GM foods. The "no GM" ingredients label has everything to do with marketing, not science. Whether the sugar in a food comes from GM modified sugar beets or sugar cane is totally irrelevant. Sugar is sugar. It does not know or care where it came from and neither does your body or any analytical instrument, because they are identical.

    Which brings up your other point. I did not say that 98% of the public is incapable of learning that the source of a given chemical is irrelevant—just that they do not know this. One reason for this is the natural/organic marketing techniques work better when people do not know this. If they did, they would probably not spend more money for essentially the same product.

    This has nothing to do with politics. I never write about politics, because I am interested in the truth, and if there is one place it will be absent is in the political arena.

    Although we may disagree on certain things (my tone being one of them) I am pleased that you took the time to write, and enjoy our discussions. 

    I will read your article ASAP.
    -Cranky Old Josh
    Josh Bloom
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Thanks for replying Josh, sorry you are feeling cranky, shouldn't you be happy that you won the argument about spraying the mosquitoes though? You say that :-
    It is hysteria-producing nonsense like this that leads any non-scientist to conclude that we are systematically being poisoned every day. The terms "chemical" and "toxin" are now essentially interchangeable, despite the fact that this is dead wrong. 
    Of course this is wrong however I think that what is obvious is that people in general are worried about themselves and their environment being 'unnaturally' poisoned and unhealthy and because they are not scientists they try to make 'natural' choices over 'unnatural' choices because for some reason 'unnatural' man-made chemicals have got a bad name even though we are all made of 'natural chemicals'. So people tend to think that 'natural' is better than synthetic or unnatural and I agree with you that often the distinction is meaningless. However, to tar all organic farmers as being deliberately trying to mislead people about this is probably a bit unfair. 

    My husband and I were organic, permaculture, lychee and mango fruit and beef farmers for 8 years and during that time we tried hard to follow the basic organic farming methods which are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations. They are based on the 'standards set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), an international umbrella organization for organic farming organizations established in 1972.[3] The USDA National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) definition as of April 1995 is :-
    “Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony."[4]'
    We chose organic farming methods because I didn't want my husband spraying what I considered to be heavy duty chemicals near to our house and my children. When we subsequently had plagues of black, shiny, loopers one year we had a choice to either spray 'unnatural' chemicals that were not organic farming approved and lose our organic certification or watch the millions of black loopers eat every single leaf on every one of our 3000+ twenty five year old, lychee trees which is what then happened in a week. We sadly chose the latter option but funnily enough the trees grew back stronger than ever with shiny glossy leaves that now replaced their 25 year old rather jaded leaves that had been eaten by the loopers and we had a bumper crop that same year. If lychees feel threatened they often proiduce bumper crops and some lychee farmers deliberatly hit the trunks with sticks and drive tractors over their exposed roots to stimulate fruit production!

    We also had 'organic' cattle and geese grazing in the orchards pruning the trees by eating the leaves and fruit that they could reach and pooing under the trees. We never dipped the cattle and the only other fertiliser that we added was lime occasionally. The undergrowth plants under the trees were designed to fix nitrogen as well as be good fodder for our cows and geese. Geese have traditionally been kept in lychee orchards for centuries because they eat the insects that prey on lychees and fertilise the trees as well as scaring away any fruit predators and poachers or are they called fruit scrumpers?

    Anyway, it all worked well and the fruit was fantastic, very large red juicy lychees, so good that Asian people often came from the cities and pleaded to pay us to allow them to pick them. They didn't care whether the lychees were organic or not they just wanted high quality fruit and freshness. The local Byron Bay markets and hippies did want organic lychees and they sold well but only probably for the same price as non-organic old, foreign sprayed and irradiated lychees in the local supermarkets. It wasn't the price we were after it was simply the healthy 'natural' 'organic' farm environment and the lack of harmful 'chemicals', 'natural' or otherwise near our house and also the unpolluted soil, air and waterways. Is that really so terrible and misleading?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Josh Bloom
    Hello again Helen (my new best friend)-Just so that I'm not misunderstood, I consider myself to be a rather serious environmentalist. But a practical one. Anything that can reasonably be done to materially decrease air and water pollution is great. 
     But this when this turns into dealing with hypothetic, minuscule, or just silly risks, this is when I have a problem. Unfortunately, much of today's environmental movement relies on this.
     Why? My guess is that the environment has gotten so much better (unleaded gas, catalytic converters, not dumping shit into rivers anymore...) that in a way, environmentalists have put themselves out of business. In order to keep going, they are focusing on silly stuff, like BPA on cash register receipts and other non-issues.
     Yes— I think that if people want to do organic farming this is perfectly fine. And if people want to buy the produce, that is fine too. What I object to is the use of bad information to promote agendas as well as ignorance. This is what I write about constantly. And there is plenty of it (Andrew Wakefield is the perfect example), and it has done harm.

     I just call 'em like I see em'. This bothers some people, but you can't please everyone.

    Stay in touch (as if there were any doubt ;)
    Josh
    Josh Bloom
     Why? My guess is that the environment has gotten so much better (unleaded gas, catalytic converters, not dumping shit into rivers anymore...) that in a way, environmentalists have put themselves out of business. In order to keep going, they are focusing on silly stuff, like BPA on cash register receipts and other non-issues.


    So much better in some ways, but you're  omitting the biggest issue, climate change! Not all environmentalism is centered around alarmist issues, overreaction and collecting money. 
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    So much better in some ways, but you're  omitting the biggest issue, climate change! Not all environmentalism is centered around alarmist issues, overreaction and collecting money. 
    Good points Enrico. Plenty of countries in the world are still not using unleaded gas or catalytic converters and are still dumping masses of shit into rivers while making the goods we all import. In China many people don't see blue skies and sunlight for months on end and their crops are dying without sunlight, which is serious, they also have massive nutrient run-offs, eutrophication and pollution and resulatnt blue green algae blooms and high incidences of cancers, especially liver, lung and breast cancer. Climate change is global and not enough is being done, the last thing we should all be doing is feeling complacent.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    MikeCrow
    Climate change is global and not enough is being done

    It isn't really global, and they are doing far too much! We've never seen the Antarctic ice extent as large as it is now, and has set record cold temps recently, and Chicago this last winter was either never this cold in recorded history, or this cold in over 100 years (can't remember which), and the Great Lakes had record ice cover this year.

    We've been fooled by changing ocean cycles into thinking the changing climate was due to humans and wasted billions.

    What we really need to hope for is that the cold modes of both major oceans (the pacific has switched, and the Atlantic is due to switch), and a quite Sun doesn't cause another Ice Age. Then we'll really be screwed!
    Never is a long time.
    rholley
    Perhaps it all depends where you spray your Phenothrin (to give it its official name).

    The linked Wikipedia article states that it is toxic to honeybees, cats, and mysid shrimp.  It has been withdrawn for use in flea collars for pets.
     
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Nothing is totally innocuous; otherwise phenothrin wouldn't kill mosquitoes in the first place, and for that reason it's always wise to use any compound with caution. 
    Here in Quebec, the government does monitor metabolites of phenothrin in humans as a precaution. Some metabolites only show up in the parts per trillion, others in the low end of ppb.
    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/contaminants/chms-ecms/section8-eng...

    Also, someone had the not-so-original idea of chlorinating the basic structure of a pyrethroid and created permethrin, which is much more toxic to mammals and even a likely carcinogen (EPA -2006, within the same reference listed above).
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Wow Enrico, what an amazing link to Canada'a environmental contaminants and their monitoring. I wonder if equivalent links exist to sites with Australian, American and British and other countries environmental contaminants? If so I would like to read them too. Josh, if you read the information in Enrico's link maybe you will understand why so many ordinary people who are not scientists have decided that 'unnatural' means unsafe and why they are trying to avoid some of these harmful, 'unnatural', man made chemicals. The chlordane entry alone is particularly alarming because so many of these harmful man made chemicals that have been used in the past as insecticides are still present in the environment and in our food and worst still in our breast milk! For example let's just look at one of the man made chemical insecticides in that very long list on the link that Enrico supplied above, chlordane :-

    The most important metabolite of chlordane is oxychlordane (2,3,4,5,6,6a,7,7-octachloro-1a,1b,5,5a,6,6a-hexahydro-2,5-methano-2H-indeno(1,2-b)oxirene) (CASRN 27304-13-8).
    Chlordane is a synthetic chemical mixture with no natural sources, and is released to the environment solely by anthropogenic activities. Chlordane was used as a broad-based insecticide for a variety of agricultural crops, for residential applications such as lawns and gardens, as a fumigating agent, and for underground application to homes as termite prevention (ATSDR, 1994; Environment Canada, 2008). Chlordane was never manufactured in Canada and its use was discontinued in 1998. It is no longer registered for use as a pesticide in Canada and cannot be imported to or exported from Canada (Environment Canada, 2005). Production, sale, and use of chlordane in the United States have also been prohibited since 1988 (ATSDR, 1994).


    Chlordane has been detected in all environmental media. While its use has been discontinued in Canada, chlordane compounds are very resistant to degradation, and long-range transport of these chemicals is possible (ATSDR, 1994). The primary source of exposure to the public is through ingestion of foods containing traces of chlordane (ATSDR, 1994), although individuals living in homes previously treated with chlordane may be exposed to elevated indoor air concentrations (ATSDR, 1994). Chlordane can remain for decades in soils where it was previously applied, and food products grown in these soils continue to show detectable concentrations long after use was discontinued in Canada. Occupational exposure may occur with individuals working in agricultural areas where chlordane has previously been applied. Due to the bans on use in Canada and the United States, environmental concentrations are expected to continue to gradually decrease over time, and the potential for new industrial releases is low.


    Various foods from the 1993 to 1998 Health Canada Total Diet Studies (TDS), including potato chips, fresh and canned fish, peanut butter, peanuts, candy, microwave popcorn, cucumbers, flour, cookies, and melons, had detectable levels (low parts per billion [ppb]) of chlordane chemicals (Health Canada, 2009a). Chlordane products generally remain in soil after application. Due to the estimated one-year half-life in soil (UNEP, 2007), strong adsorption onto organic substrates, and very low solubility in water, chlordane residues can persist in soils for over 20 years (ATSDR, 1994). Chlordane may enter water bodies either through leaching from soils and subsequent transport through groundwater, or by deposition from the atmosphere; however, due to their low solubility, once in the water, chlordane tends to bind to sediments (UNEP, 2007). Chlordane compounds are not normally detected in drinking water (WHO, 2004).
    Chlordane is absorbed after oral, dermal, and inhalation exposure. Once absorbed, chlordane isomers are preferentially metabolized into oxychlordane, and to a lesser extent, to heptachlor. Biological samples tend to contain primarily oxychlordane and nonachlor compounds (CDC, 2005). Elimination of these chemicals from the body occurs over months to years, and breast milk is a major excretion route in lactating women (CDC, 2005). Samples of maternal blood plasma from the Canadian Arctic in 1994-1999 (Butler Walker et al., 2003) consistently had detectable levels of chlordane products; mean concentrations were 0.05 μg/L for cis-nonachlor (detected in 48.05% of samples), 0.25 μg/L for trans-nonachlor (detected in 98.18% of samples), and 0.23 μg/L for oxychlordane (detected in95.58% of samples).Exposure to high doses of chlordane can result in effects on the nervous system, digestive system, and liver (ATSDR, 1994). The toxicity of chlordane contamination is significantly influenced by environmental and biological degradation processes that have taken place, which are often isomer-specific (ATSDR, 1994).
    Chlordane pesticides are not registered for use or sale in Canada by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (Health Canada, 2009b). Chlordane is classified as a persistent organic pollutant (POP) and as a severe marine pollutant by the Stockholm Convention, an international agreement to ban or severely restrict the production and use of POPs (UNEP, 2008). The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies chlordane as a possible human carcinogen (Group 2B) based on inadequate evidence in humans and sufficient evidence in laboratory animals, specifically liver cancer observed in some rodent studies (IARC, 2001). The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA, 1997) has classified chlordane as Group B2, a probable human carcinogen.

    I am now in my fifties and I breast fed all of my children as did most of my girl friends. I lived in London in the 80s for ten years and I belonged to a group of six girlfriends in the same district of London who I knew well and who I am still in contact with from Australia. Most months the women in this group went away together for a weekend camping and hiking trips to the British countryside. I am now the only woman in that group of six healthy young women who has not subsequently had breast cancer and either a mastectomy or lumpectomy and radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy. All of the women who are still alive from that group are now trying to avoid unnatural chemicals in their diet and they buy and eat organic food. 

    Can you blame these women for doing this even though organic food may still be just as unsafe as non organic food depending on where it is being grown and which harmful 'natural' or 'unnatural' chemicals are still present in the environment where it is grown or where they now live? Overtly more tests and controls appear to be being applied to organic food even if that is really not the case in some countries, so many people choose to buy organic food and avoid 'unnatural' chemicals? How else can they try to remove such dangerous contaminants in the environment from their food? They probably also distrust scientists because it was scientists that developed chemicals like chlordane for general insecticide use in the past.

    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Josh Bloom
    Hi Helen-Yes, of course there are toxic chemicals out there—manmade or otherwise. 

    It is also true that halogenated chemicals tend to bioaccumulate. This may or may not make them toxic, and no matter what, the dose/exposure will always be the main factor defining the hazard.

    I know that breast cancer is awful and that many women have to deal with it. But there are two major myths floating around out there. One is that chemicals are responsible for soaring  breast cancer rates. The other is that cancer rates are soaring. This is untrue. Cancer rates have been steady or dropping slowly for the past 3 decades. The following graph is from the CDC:


    If this represents soaring cancer rates then I must be missing something. (BTW, do you know the reason for the spike in men's cancer beginning around 1990? It's rather interesting.) 

    Also, it is unfair to blame scientists for their discoveries, especially ones that took place years ago when current information did not exist. They were doing their jobs—just like I used to. Chlordane was invented in the 1940s. There have been many advances since, so it no longer makes sense to use it. This is called progress. 
    J
    Josh Bloom
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    But there are two major myths floating around out there. One is that chemicals are responsible for soaring  breast cancer rates. The other is that cancer rates are soaring. This is untrue. Cancer rates have been steady or dropping slowly for the past 3 decades. The following graph is from the CDC
    Any chance you can provide a link to that CDC graph please Josh? I have generated quite a few graphs myself but can't seem to find a way of generating that one. I am busy researching breast cancer causes and rates and treatments for one of my friends in England who had a masectomy last month and has since discovered that her multi-focal DCIS is a grade 3 invasive cancer. I am exploring her treatment options and I must say your graph interests me a lot because all of the anecdotal evidence that i currently have is showing an increase in breast cancer rates over the last few decades. 


    I read an interesting article today that I accidentally came across while looking for breast cancer treatments and outcomes. One article is called 'Surgeon: birth control pill a ‘molotov cocktail’ for breast cancer' and it discusses the following :-
    Question: How often do doctors in America prescribe a Group One carcinogen - one recognized as a “definite” cause of cancer - to otherwise healthy patients?
    Answer: as often as they prescribe the hormonal birth control pill.
    This little-known fact about the pill was presented by Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, a breast surgical oncologist and co-founder of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, who shared her expertise on the drug at the “50 Years of the Pill” conference in Washington, DC on Friday.
    “When is it ever right to give a group one carcinogen to a healthy woman?” she asked the audience. “We don’t have to take a group one carcinogen to be liberated.”
    Lanfranchi offered a wealth of statistical data from various sources to support a fact that is known by the medical community to be true yet is rarely acknowledged: use of the pill has been strongly linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. The pill is also believed to increase the risk of cervical cancer and liver cancer.“
    This stuff is not new, it’s not magic, it’s in the literature,” she said, linking pill use to the 660 percent rise in non-invasive breast cancer since 1973. “Women want to know, and women have a right to know, what researchers have known for over 20 years.”
    This doesn't seem to agree with what you are showing in your CDC graph and I'm keen to figure out why and discover the truth? Over 80% of my girlfriends in England have developed breast cancer over the last few decades, I know its only anecdotal but its still a lot. About ten women that I know who aren't yet in their sixties and most of whom took the oral contraceptive pill in their teens and twenties. Its a bit of a worry especially as i am probably the next one in line :(
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Josh Bloom
    HelenSure. I'll dig up the link and send it to you tomorrow. 
     It's funny you mentioned it, because I've always thought that if there was really an increase in breast cancer, it had nothing to do with environmental chemicals. The only risk factors I can think of that make any sense to me are HRT, contraceptives,alcohol consumption and obesity. 
     Alcohol consumption and obesity seem to be pretty clear risk factors. Obesity has certainly increased. Don't know about alcohol consumption, but it wouldn't surprise me. The WHI overstated the risk of breast cancer from HRT, but there still could be something there. 
    But if there is any single factor that really makes sense in the alleged increase in BC it is giving birth for the first time at a later age.  That one seems pretty solid, and I'm sure this trend is real.
    Note that if the increase is real, none of the most likely risk factors has anything to do with environmental chemicals or pesticides. 
    J
    Josh Bloom
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Like many diseases the causes of breast cancer are probably multifactorial Josh. I am still ploughing my way through Enrico's fascinating Report on Human Biomonitoring of Environmental Chemicals in Canada which specifically mentions both Mirex and BPA as potential causes of breast cancer :-

    The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC, 1979) classified mirex as a possible human carcinogen (Group 2B) based on the absence of adequate human data and sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in animals. Recent studies in humans have associated mirex with increased risks of breast cancer (Salehi et al., 2008), and T-cell lymphoma (Spinelli et al., 2007).
    • Salehi, F., Turner, M.C., Philips, K.P., Wigle, D.T., Krewski, D.,&Aronson, K.J. (2008). Review of the etiology of breast cancer with special attention to organochlorines as potential endocrine disruptors. Journal of Toxicology and Environment - Part B: Critical Reviews, 11(3-4), 276-300.
    • Spinelli, J.J., Ng, C.H., Weber, J.-P., Connors, J.M., Gascoyne, R.D., Brooks-Wilson, A.R., Le, N.D., Berry, B.R.,&Gallagher, R.P. (2007). Organochlorines and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. International Journal of Cancer,121(12), 2767-75.
    The potential role of BPA and other environmental estrogens in the prevalence of obesity and related metabolic diseases, as well as certain types of cancer, is under intensive debate and investigation among scientific communities (Newbold et al., 2009; Ben-Jonathan et al., 2009; Soto et al., 2008).
    • Soto, A.M., Vandenberg, L.N., Maffini, M.V., & Sonnenschein, C. (2008). Does breast cancer start in the womb? Basic and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, 102(2), 125-33.

    Most of the chemicals on that list of man made environmental insecticides that have mostly now been recently discontinued seem to be suspected of being carcinogens that cause cancer in humans, even the well known scabies and lice treatment Hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH), formerly known as benzenehexachloride (BHC), now known as lindane which has the chemical formula C6H6Cl6 :-

     HCH is a synthetic chemical with no natural sources. HCH was originally produced and applied as a pesticide in the form of a technical mixture of several isomers. More recently, this technical mixture was processed so that the gamma-hexachlorocyclohexane (γ-HCH) isomer, which has most of the pesticidal properties of the HCH isomers, could be applied as a pure product. γ-HCH is more commonly known as lindane (ATSDR, 2005; Health Canada, 2009a).
    The sale and use of organochlorine pesticides, including lindane, is regulated in Canada by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). In 2002, PMRA completed a review of lindane and product registrations were phased out by December 31, 2004. No lindane products are registered under the Pest Control Products Act. However, lindane (γ-HCH) remains in use as a therapeutic product under the Food and Drugs Act to control lice and scabies (mites) outbreaks in humans (Health Canada, 1989a, 1989b). This last Canadian use is expected to cease by August 2015, as required by an amendment to the Stockholm Convention which Canada has indicated it plans to ratify (Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, 2010).
    The public may be exposed to HCH isomers primarily by ingestion of food with HCH residues, but other pathways such as ingestion of drinking water and inhalation of ambient air are also possible. Short-term exposure to γ-HCH also occurs through use of prescription medication for scabies or head lice (ATSDR, 2005). HCH isomers have been detected in a range of foods including dairy products, meat, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, peanuts, seeds, sugars, oils, and fats (Gartrell et al., 1986; Health Canada, 2006).
    At high doses, HCH can affect the nervous system, and symptoms of exposure to HCH may include malaise, vomiting, tremors, apprehension, confusion, loss of sleep, impaired memory, and loss of libido (ATSDR, 2005). Lindane and other HCH isomers can also have effects on the liver, kidneys, and endocrine system, and may have immunotoxic potential (Health Canada, 2009; ATSDR, 2005). The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC, 1987) has classified HCH as a possible human carcinogen (Group 2B), basedon inadequate human data but sufficient evidence in animals for technical- and α-HCH, and limited evidence for β- and γ-HCH. A provisional tolerable daily intake (pTDI) for total HCH of 0.3 mg/kg body weight per day has been established by Health Canada (2007).

    Well one thing is for sure, there has been a big increase in the incidence of head lice over the last couple of decades all over the developed world and plenty of mothers that I know both here in Australia and in England  have repeatedly smothered their children in head lice solution so maybe that is another potential cause of breast cancer? If my kids caught head lice I would eventually give them crew cuts if I couldn't comb the little critters out with tea tree conditioner! They used to have a teacher that looked like a fairy with thick long blond hair down to her waist, who I was convinced was carrying nits from one child to the next but I never said anything to anyone, wish I had now....

    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    BTW Josh my friends are not obese or heavy alcohol drinkers and they stopped using the oral contraceptive many years ago when they realised it was potentially dangerous and non of them have ever used HRT. I am the only heavy drinking obese one in the group who is now using progesterone cream to combat perimenopausal symptoms! I'm only not doing as much drinking and smoking these days as I used to because I don't get invited to as many parties and I am certainly not as thin as I would like to be. Out of all of us I am the biggest hedonist who had my children the latest in life after doing IVF. I am the only one who hasn't been diagnosed with breast cancer yet though I imagine its only a matter of time.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Josh Bloom
    Helen-You, of course, know that personal stories like this mean nothing in determining a trend. One out of four people in my family (me) has perfect pitch. Does that mean that 1 in 4 people worldwide do? 
     No-- it's 1 in 10,000. 
    Josh Bloom
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Of course Josh, I just thought it was interesting that they are all quite slim and very clean living women unlike me, which naturally makes them feel a bit resentful I think. Why have so many of them got breast cancer I wonder? Are their cancers being recorded on medical registers and how reliable are these cancer statistics? These women have all moved around a lot and live in different locations now, so its difficult for any statistical databases to know that they all lived in London in their twenties. Anyway, I'm still waiting for that CDC link from you, I love statistics, even cancer stats :) 

    BTW, how does someone know whether they have perfect pitch? I sing and play the guitar like many people but wouldn't know how or where to measure whether I have perfect pitch, though if only 1 in 10,000 have this then I realise its unlikely. Just curious. Have you made any Youtubes demonstrating your perfect pitch?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Josh Bloom
    Helen-
    Here is the link
    http://www.cancer.org/healthy/informationforhealthcareprofessionals/canc...


    I know I have perfect pitch because if someone plays notes or chords on a piano in another room I can identify the notes. I don't know how I can do it, I just can. You can't practice it. Doesn't work. I've had piano teachers far more accomplished than I'll ever be who couldn't do it. 
    I think it pissed them off I that could ;)

    It is not especially useful, except maybe as a party trick. It is very different from have a good ear like a piano tuner, but I have that too. Maybe they are related.
    J
    Josh Bloom
    Hank
    Well, your piano playing ain't bad...

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Is that really Josh or are you joshing?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Josh Bloom
    Helen-Yep. That's me. Probably the scariest thing I've ever done. 
    I HATE performing.
    Josh Bloom
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Wow, you were great! Its a long intro before you start playing the piano, did it seem like a long time to you? I will never forget the pride I felt watching my son playing violin at his first Eisteddfod after years of learning the violin and practising. As soon as he could he gave up the violin and took up the drums but that training means he is musically still very appreciative and educated I hope.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Josh Bloom
    Helen-The long orchestral passage before the piano solo comes in is typical of Mozart piano concertos. This did not help, since my anxiety grew with every measure. By the time it was my turn I was thinking that I might throw up, pass out, or both.If you're interested, the second movement (which I think is far better) is also on Youtube. If you go there and search Josh Bloom Rochester you will find it.

    Josh Bloom
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Yes I enjoyed that second movement Josh :)
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Josh Bloom
    Maybe not. But that haircut sure is.
    Josh Bloom
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Thanks for the link Josh, I am going to continue at the bottom of the comments section now so that I can post a couple more interesting graphs on this topic as its getting a bit narrow here :)
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
     But there are two major myths floating around out there. One is that chemicals are responsible for soaring  breast cancer rates...
    If this represents soaring cancer rates then I must be missing something. 
    As you mentioned, delayed childbirth, birth control pills, alcohol and (you forgot the BRCA genes), all play a role in breast cancer, but scientifically one cannot leave certain man-made compounds out of the equation. A long term study by Cohn revealed that women exposed to high levels of DDT in childhood were 5 times more likely to develop breast cancer later in life.  
    How do we know that regulation of pesticides since 1970 has not played a role in stabilizing many cancer rates?
    Also, a few weeks ago, I mined data from the
    Center of Diseases Control, and age-adjusted overall cancer rates are indeed down by 9% since 1999. But they also reveal that in that same period, childhood cancers are up by 9.8% from 1999 to 2010, thyroid cancers are up 97%, and melanoma is up 24%.(all age-adjusted rates) In the latter case, free radicals from freons attack stratospheric ozone, increasing UV exposure, and leading to more cases of melanoma. (there was a 2 to 5% reduction of ozone above the U.S. (latitudes 25oN to 35oN) between 1980 and 2000.

    Josh Bloom
    You are partly correct. Yes, it is toxic to bees. There is no perfect drug or chemical. Everything is a tradeoff—risk vs. benefit. Which is more important? Bee health or human health? I pick the latter.
    You are incorrect about Pheothrin being used in flea and tick products:


    "EPA's product cancellation order did not apply to Hartz flea and tick products for dogs, and Hartz continues to produce many of its flea and tick products for dogs."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenothrin



    The marine toxicity is a non-issue with ground spraying. It is applied to the ground, and decomposes rapidly, so it doesn't run off into the water. 
    Josh Bloom
    rholley
    I’ve been looking up Fire Island on Wikipedia.  I see it’s a census-designated place, a category of which I had never heard before, which I guess is what allows you the opt-out.  Only one picture, though, to give any indication of the landscape and flora.  Which gets me wondering, how much of the island gets sprayed?  And what sort of terrain is it where you spray moz killer on the ground rather than in the water?  Or is one aiming at the adults rather than the larvae?

    Regarding the mosquitoes, with the mere mention of West Nile Virus, my immediate reaction is EXTERMINATE!  But would this lead to a collapse of the local flora due to lack of pollination?

    I take your point about the pets, but only up to a point – puppies, yes: pussies, no!

    But while pesticides sprayed as per instructions do not give me the heebie-jeebies, two things do.  One is people keeping their garden spray bottles in quite a grotty condition on their kitchen windowsill, and handling them and then culinary utensils without washing hands in between.  The other is seeing a picture of agricultural workers in Latin America drinking their beer out of old pesticide cans.  Try to stop it?  One might run up against corporate callousness, but one might also encounter macho pig-headedness from the workers themselves.

     * * * * * *

    One little postscript.  In the National Geographic (which I used to take before I stopped it because of information overload) I read about one of those luxury islands, possibly Grand Cayman, where they sprayed two thirds of the island with chloro-bromo-something, but left one third jungly and unsprayed to keep a majority population of the mosquitoes which would not acquire resistance to the pesticide.

    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Josh Bloom
    I'm not sure what a census-designated place is. Never heard the term. Fire Island became part of the National Park Service in 1964, which prevents anymore of the island from developed, so there will never be more than the existing 17 small towns. I'm guessing that something like 90% of the island is undeveloped, and will remain so.

    The communities that do not have their own government are also part of any of three towns across the bay on the mainland— Islip, Sayville and Patchogue. It gets a little complicated.

     Most/all of the spraying takes place in the inhabited areas. It is done by workers one plot at a time, and  not in the water. The island is mostly flat, except for the dunes, so problems from runoff into the Great South Bay are unlikely, especially given the short half life of the insecticide. If there is any evidence of marine toxicity from spraying I have not seen it. The bay is full of fish, crabs and clams.

    BTI rings are used earlier in the season, and adulticide spraying starts in June and July. Ocean Beach is now being managed properly by Suffolk County, like it should have been all along. Somehow the environmental committee decided that they had greater wisdom than the Suffolk County Department of Health, and this caused us to opt out of the spraying. For no good reason whatsoever.
    Josh Bloom
    rholley
    Which is more important? Bee health or human health?
    Here are two linked quotes from G.K.Chesterton, which you might enjoy:

    THE CLUB

    Mankind is not a tribe of animals to which we owe compassion. Mankind is a club to which we owe our subscription.

    THE BIG THING AND THE SMALL

    At one time the club accepts the view that it was founded by a Mr Adam. At another time it records a vote that it was probably an affiliated branch of the Monkey’s Club. But these discussions of the forgotten origins are meant to amuse the club. No one ever dreamt of their being allowed to destroy it.

    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Josh Bloom
    I may enjoy it, but I suspect Jim Capuono's family will enjoy it much less.
    Josh Bloom
    rholley
    Jim Capuono's family
    Can’t find this, even after a web search.

    Doh!  Of course, you’re referring to your friend.  (Edit about one minute after the first send.)

    I wonder, given the serious of the situation, did you find the quotes seem a bit flippant?  Maybe our minds run on different lines, but I thought that the quotes were making the same point as you are.

    Or perhaps on the surface Chesterton’s humour appears to treat lightly something that he was actually being most serious about.

     
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I know that breast cancer is awful and that many women have to deal with it. But there are two major myths floating around out there. One is that chemicals are responsible for soaring  breast cancer rates. The other is that cancer rates are soaring. This is untrue. Cancer rates have been steady or dropping slowly for the past 3 decades. The following graph is from the CDC:

    If this represents soaring cancer rates then I must be missing something. (BTW, do you know the reason for the spike in men's cancer beginning around 1990? It's rather interesting.) 
    Josh, I don't think that breast cancer rates are still soaring now but they are still remaining intolerably high after soaring in the past and the causes are still not fully understood by any means. 1 in 8 women still getting breast cancer is a ridiculously high probability especially as 5 out of 5 of the women I knew well in London in the 80s have now had breast cancer and their only major risk factor was some of them having their first child when they were aged over 30.

    Some breast cancer risk factors have been identified but as we all know plenty of women like my friends are still getting breast cancer who don't have most or even any of these risk factors, so there must be other risk factors that have not been identified, such as chemicals and/or toxins in their environment for example. 

    Maybe some of these breast cancer risks come from 'unnatural' manmade insecticidal 'chemicals' like Mirex, BPA and Lindane in Enrico's Canadian Biomonitoring of Environmental chemicals list that still remain in high levels in the environment long after they were banned and maybe other risk factors are 'natural' toxins or 'chemicals' in the environment, like microcystins from natural but harmful cyanobacterial, blue green algae blooms in recreational and drinking water for example? 

    Anyway, I don't think you can simply discount the possibility that breast cancers are being caused by 'chemical's' and say that this is a myth, where is your evidence? Non of these cancer stats graphs from this site or any other sites that I can find disprove that supposed 'myth'. 


    Also, on the Cancer website you linked to there is a breast cancer fact sheet for professionals  and to my amazement I found that it doesn't even mention the oral contraceptive pill as a known risk factor. 'pooled analysis of data from more than 50 studies found that while women were taking birth control pills (and shortly thereafter), they had a 10 to 30 percent higher risk of breast cancer than women who had never used the pill [31]. Once women stopped taking the pill, their risk began to decrease and after about 10 years, returned to that of women who have never taken the pill [31].' Surely that is worth mentioning as a risk factor?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Josh Bloom
    Helen-I refer to it as the "myth of chemicals and cancer" simply because there is no evidence that exposure to trace environmental chemicals causes cancer. I cannot prove that it is myth. That is impossible. Yet many people cling to this belief, perhaps because if they can find something they can blame for a disease, then maybe they can control it.  Autism is the perfect example. First, the mercury in vaccines was blamed. When this was disproven, the blame shifted to the vaccines themselves. This was also wrong. Some people still cling to this belief, when in fact, no one knows what causes autism. Or most cancers.

    In my opinion, this, plus the absence of a better understanding of the development of cancers (and other diseases) is the root cause behind the explosion of chemophobia. Often this is manifested by people going "organic" and thinking that they getting all of the chemicals out of their lives (as if this is possible). But they are kidding themselves. It is false hope.


    It may simply be that more people die of cancer because they don't die earlier from other causes, like infectious diseases or heart disease. Virtually every man past a certain age will die with (not necessarily from) prostate cancer. Why? Because they lived long enough to develop it. 

    Something is going to get everyone of us sooner or later.

    Josh Bloom
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Josh, many of these 1 in 8 women are getting breast cancer often in their 40's, 50's and 60's unlike their mothers who lived relatively healthily until they die of something age-related in their 80s. Many of my friends are getting breast cancer and no one really knows why? They are understandably panicking and resorting to living and eating as naturally as possible by buying 'organic' food and avoiding 'unnatural' man made 'chemicals'. Who can blame them? I certainly don't. Some of them are also dealing with autistic children who will be dependent upon them for life, however long or short that may be.

    Many of the 'unnatural' 'chemicals' on Enrico's list of Canadian biomonitored man-made environmental chemicals have since been found to be carcinogenic and neurodegenerative and have subsequently been withdrawn, even though they will remain in the environment for decades, bioaccumulating in our food and water and probably still causing cancers and neurodegenration in some people and animals. 

    I don't see any reason to ridicule them for taking this action, until scientists do eventually work out what exactly is causing cancer and increasingly common neurodegenerative diseases nowadays, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Lou Gehrig's ALS/MND and even autism, if these almost inevitably turn out to have multifactorial causes which are probably unavoidable. Some people are lucky enough to live in the world's blue zones where many live healthily into their nineties, usually in very 'natural' environments away from man-made 'unnatural' 'chemicals' but most of us don't.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    John Hasenkam
    We should be seeing increasing rates of cancers - ageing population. I prefer an analysis that excludes past and present smokers because the reduction in smoking may largely account for the reductions. Not just airways but pancreatic, bladder, and other cancers are associated with smoking. The environmental clean up of the last few decades may have contributed to the decline but I suspect it is mostly about smoking reduction. 

    Dang! For an article that begins by asserting you have no stress on Fire Island, that turned into a huge amount of stress you had to go through pretty quickly! Even the poor pro-mosquito lobby is living through stress now -- even though/if they are wrong, they're surely still stressing about it!

    Josh Bloom
    Good point. Perhaps "no stress" is a slight exaggeration, but considering it is 50 miles from the stress capitol of the world it's about as close as you get. 
    Josh Bloom
    If you want to control mosquitoes, bring in the Air Force : dragonflies. An adult dragonfly can eat up to 300 mosquitoes in a day, and not only do adult dragonflies eat adult mosquitoes but dragonfly larvae will eat mosquito larvae as they develop in water. This is now used as a form of mosquito control by some Canadian cities such as Regina, Saskatchewan. I believe that you can find suppliers of dragonfly larvae on the internet. Cheers.

    Josh Bloom
    Don't think it will be enough. I was playing softball last weekend, and there we so many dragonflies that you could barely see first base. And that's my official excuse for not reaching it that often. 
     But the key point here is that my town—all of 10 blocks— represents maybe one-millionth (a pure guess) of the area in New York and Long Island that is routinely sprayed. 
     That's why the stance by the environmental committee not to spray was so silly. Is what we do really going to impact the environment?  Of course not. 
    Josh Bloom
    I think it's quite telling that once an issue becomes personal, how quickly one can dismiss the science. While the committee may certainly have been wrong to avoid spraying, it is a bit much to suggest that they are somehow responsible for West Nile. Anyway, your comment about bee health as being less important than human health indicates the extremes to which people will go when events suddenly become "real".

    Josh Bloom
    I think you and I see this quite differently.  I maintain that it took things getting personal for the village to follow the science, not dismiss it. I also think it is quite appropriate to put this on the environmental committee. Their misguided policy was responsible for Jim's near death. They certainly knew the risks of West Nile and Lyme, but chose to ignore these risks. I do reserve some blame for the town's board, which went along with it for 30 years.
     And Iabsolutely agree that bee health must take a back seat to human health, but that is immaterial in this case. 
     As I replied to another comment, does it make even the slightest difference to the environment when a town of 10 blocks chooses not to spray, while not only is the rest of the island sprayed, but so is much of Long Island and New York City, with a million (?) times that tiny area, where 10 million live, is regularly sprayed? 
    No-- this foolish and meaningless policy by 5 people, who are not even scientists, caused the near death of a very fine man, while making absolutely NO difference to the environment of the entire area.
     The risk-benefit analysis was dead wrong. 
    Josh Bloom
    Actually your comment about bee health is the whole point. You clearly did not qualify this comment, even the second time, so I can only assume you meant it literally as stated. This makes you no different than any other layperson that neglects the science when they have a personal experience they find upsetting or threatening. Now, perhaps you meant that your small area couldn't have enough of an impact to make such an argument, but then the problem with that, is that that's exactly the logic employed by hundreds of thousands of communities making similar decisions. That they couldn't possibly make a difference.

    I don't wish your friend anything bad, but your comment about bees, which is very fundamental to the whole issue, demonstrates that, in the end, you're just another frightened layperson when you are outside your area of expertise.

    Josh Bloom
    Once again you are incorrect. Even more so this time, which is not so easy.
    I am not frightened at all. I am not worried about catching West Nile encephalitis because I am neither elderly, nor have a compromised immune system. The chances of me being infected are nearly zero. My chances of catching Lyme out here are very high, since most people have had it more than once. This concerns, but does not frighten me. 

     And you really hit the "man-do you have it wrong jackpot" if you think I'm a layperson.

    That is unless you considered someone with a Ph.D., post-doc, and 27 years of biomedical research, with expertise in chemistry, biochemistry, infectious diseases, virology, pharmacology, and pharmacokinetics—absorption, toxicity, and half-life being the three of five ADMET issues that apply here— a layperson.

     You must have spent a helluva long time in school if you consider me a layperson. 
    Josh Bloom