July 15, 2007

"What You Don't Know Can Kill You"

The general term "pesticide" includes herbicides, fumigants, insecticides, nemacides, fungicides, miticides, rodenticides, termiticides, molluscides, acaricides, bird repellents and some wood preservatives (1).

In California, glyphosate is the third most commonly-reported cause of pesticide related illness among agricultural workers (2). The active ingredient in Syngenta's Touchdown product is glyphosate (3). Of the ten chemicals known to have been applied to Ag lands adjacent W.C.M.S (see Pesticide 101), glyphosate is the most benign. Six of the chemicals are considered Cholinesterase inhibitors (4). While the effects of cholinesterase inhibiting products are intended for insect pests, these chemicals can also be poisonous, or toxic to humans in some situations. Human exposure to cholinesterase inhibiting chemicals can result from inhalation, ingestion, eye and skin contact during the manufacture, mixing, or applications of these pesticides (5). Unfortunately, signs and symptoms of cholinesterase inhibition from exposure can be confused with influenza (flu), heat prostration, alcohol intoxication, exhaustion, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), asthma, gastroenteritis, pneumonia, and brain hemorrhage. This can cause problems if the symptoms of lowered cholinesterase levels are either ignored or misdiagnosed as something more or less harmful than they really are (5,6). To date Hawaii DOA/DOH has made no attempt to correlate the school health aide records of reported illness and/or staff statements with Syngenta spray operation application type, time & dates. Informal attempts show a significant correlation of spray dates and student/staff "spikes" of illness indicative of chronic pesticide exposure.

1. Colorado Dept. of Health and Environment
2. "Glyphosate Fact Sheet"
3. Product Details: Touchdown HiTech (Herbicide)
4. PAN Pesticides Database
6. Image: "Manifestations of Organophosphate Insecticide Poisoning"


Anonymous said...

Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture chairperson's message: "The Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s 300 employees statewide work to support, enhance and promote Hawaii’s agriculture and aquaculture industries(1)."

Hawaii Dept. of Health mission statement: "The mission of the Department of Health is to protect and improve the health and environment for all people in Hawai`i(2)."

Why was the HDOA put in charge of investigating a public health issue? At what level of goverment was this decision made?

1. "Chairperson's Message" http://www.hawaii.gov/hdoa/directorfolder/directormessage
2. HDOH "Mission Statement"

Anonymous said...

There is a plethora of information provided by experts covering the pros & cons of GMO agriculutral practices and the use of pesticide. Rather than be concerned with whose research is accurate or who to believe, ask those that have been directly effected by these practices. The victims of commerce.