Sunday, August 31, 2008

Reports & understanding them

One point I would like to make about reading reports. Not all reports are created equal. Here are a few points you should look for in a report.

1. Who wrote it? Was it a University Professor? A Medical University? The Government?
Or someone who is paid to be bias like a radio talk show host, lobbyist or corporation?

2. Population size? or sampling. The population size is important...usually the bigger the better.

3. Was the paper peer reviewed? Did other scientist read and approve the paper?

4. Increased Risk: When a report says there is an increased risk they mean from the "base line" or standard chances of getting something. For instance if the standard rate of getting a cancer is 1 in a 100,000 and the risk went up 60%....then the chances of getting the cancer increased to 1.6 people out of 100,000. If the risk went up 100% then the chances of getting the cancer is 2.0 people out of 100,000 (or 1 in 50,000)

Pesticides & more & more Cancer

Prostate Cancer Risk Doubles in Pesticide Applicators

SOURCE: Occupational Environmental Medicine, 56(1):14-21, 1999

OBJECTIVES: Although the primary hazard to humans associated with pesticide exposure is acute poisoning, there has been considerable concern surrounding the possibility of cancer and other chronic health effects in humans. Given the huge volume of pesticides now used throughout the world, as well as environmental and food residue contamination leading to chronic low level exposure, the study of possible chronic human health effects is important.

METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study, analyzed by general standardized mortality ratio (SMR) of licensed pesticide applicators in Florida compared with the general population of Florida. A cohort of 33,658 (10% female) licensed pesticide applicators assembled through extensive data linkages yielded 1874 deaths with 320,250 person-years from 1 January 1975 to 31 December 1993.

RESULTS: Among male applicators, prostate cancer mortality (SMR 2.38 (95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.83 to 3.04) was significantly increased. (The increase being from 1.83 to 3.40)

(Mortality ratio of 2.38. This is a ratio of the odds of getting the disease or the multiplier.)

No cases of soft tissue sarcoma were confirmed in this cohort, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was not increased. The number of female applicators was small, as were the numbers of deaths. Mortality from cervical cancer and breast cancer was not increased.

Additional subcohort and exposure analyzes were performed.

Fleming LE, Bean JA, Rudolph M, Hamilton K
Mortality in a cohort of licensed pesticide applicators in Florida.
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health
University of Miami School of Medicine, FL 33101, USA.

Home, Pesticides & more Cancer

Common Weed Killer (Roundup) Shows Evidence of
Environmental and Health Problems
SOURCE: Organic Gardening, July, 2000

Thousands and thousands of acres in the United States are being sprayed annually with nearly 50 million pounds of Roundup, a broad-spectrum herbicide designed to kill any plant it hits, unless the plant has been genetically altered to tolerate the chemical. Roundup has accounted for half of Monsanto's corporate profits in recent years. Now the company has expanded its Roundup market by genetically engineering "Roundup Ready" soybeans, corn, and other crops. Monsanto's advertising campaigns have convinced many people that Roundup is safe, but the facts simply do not support that conclusion. Independent scientific studies have shown that Roundup is toxic to earthworms, beneficial insects, birds and mammals. Plus it destroys the vegetation on which they depend for food and shelter. And although Monsanto claims that Roundup breaks down into harmless substances, it has been found to be extremely persistent, with residue absorbed by subsequent crops over a year after application. Roundup show adverse effects in all standard categories of toxicological testing, including medium-term toxicity, long-term toxicity, genetic damage, effects on reproduction, and carcinogenicity. Here is some of the research that demonstrates the ways that Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate, adversely affects plants and animals:

In a study conducted by T.B. Moorman and colleagues at the USDA Southern Weed Science Laboratory in Stoneville, Mississippi, glyphosate reduced soybeans' and clover's ability to fix nitrogen. A study conducted by G.S. Johal and J.E. Rahe of the Center for Pest Management at Simon Frase University in Burnaby, British Columbia, found that glyphosate made bean plants more susceptible to disease. At Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, D. Estok and colleagues found that glyphosate reduces the growth of beneficial soil-dwelling mycorrhizal fungi.

Moving up to mammals, sperm production in rabbits was diminished by 50 percent when they were exposed to glyphosate, in research conducted by M.I. Youset and colleagues at the University of Alexandria in Egypt and the University of Tromso in Norway.

Brand-new evidence suggests that Roundup may cause cancer. The study, published in Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis (vol. 31 pp. 55-59, 1998), found that an unidentified chemical in Roundup caused genetic damage in the livers and kidneys of mice exposed to the herbicide. The researchers believe additional experiments are needed to determine which chemical in the Roundup mixture is causing the damage. They point out that this will be very difficult because "the precise composition of the not available due to protection by patent regulation." In other words, Monsanto doesn't have to reveal to the public exactly what chemicals are in Roundup.

In California, where pesticide-related illness must be reported, Roundup's active ingredient (glyphosate) was the third most commonly reported cause of pesticide illness among agricultural workers, and the most common cause of pesticide illness in landscape workers. According to two New Zealand toxicologists, the symptoms experienced by workers exposed to Roundup included eye and skin irritation, headaches, nausea and heart palpitations.

Homes, Pesticides & Neuroblastoma

Neuroblastoma Linked to Homes Treated with Pesticides

SOURCE: Epidemiology: 12(1):20-26, January, 2001

One of the largest studies to date has found that pesticide use around the home can more than double the chance of a child developing neuroblastoma.

Neuroblastoma accounts for approximately 10% of all childhood tumors. There are 550 new cases in the United States each year, with an annual incidence rate of 9.2 cases per million children under 15 years of age. This works out to approximately 1 per 100,000 children under age 15 on a national level. (These rates were reported in the book "Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology, Lippincott-Raven, 1997). It is a very serious cancer as approximately 60% of children over age 1 who develop neuroblastoma do not live 3 years even when receiving treatments of radiation and chemotherapy. Children under age 1 have a more positive prognosis. As statistics show that neuroblastoma rates have increased over the past 50 years, it is reasonable to assume environmental factors may be involved.

One of the largest collaborative efforts among 7 Universities and medical facilities worked together to determine what extent pesticide use in the home could increase child neuroblastoma rates. 390 neuroblastoma children and 460 non-cancer controls were included in the study. Investigators questioned both parents regarding use of pesticides in and around the home.

Results showed that using pesticides in and around the home resulted in a 60% increased likelihood of children developing the disease (Odds Ratio=1.6). Looking at pesticide use for the lawn and garden only resulted in an increased risk of 120% (Odds Ratio=2.2) when the mother had applied pesticides in the yard and 50% higher (Odds Ratio=1.5) when the father had applied pesticides in the yard.

(Chem-Tox Note: Outdoor pesticides are much different from indoor pesticides as they include fungicides and herbicides some of which have been reported to contain dioxin).

Julie L. Daniels, Andrew F. Olshan, Kay Teschke, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Dave A. Savitz, Julie Blatt, Melissa L. Bondy, Joseph P. Neglia, Brad H. Pollock, Susan L. Cohn, A. Thomas Look, Robert C. Seeger, Robert P. Castleberry
Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, University of British Columbia, University of Texas, University of Minnesota, University of Florida, Northwestern University, Department of Experimental Oncology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and University of Alabama

Lawn Pesticides & Breast Cancer

Does your neighbor spray pesticides? What health effects are there for your neighbor, you and your family?

Pesticides have complex repercussions that take a bit of time and energy to understand. But in my opinion my child is worth me spending 10 minutes here and there to keep on top of these issues. Say with morning coffee I could read an article. Or print and take the article with me to read at lunch time. What do you do with your time? I like spending time with my family having fun. Reading helps me keep them healthy so we can continue having fun not spending time being sick.

Here is one thought to chew on, Cancer.

Breast Cancer Linked to Home Pesticide Chlordane

One in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer according to the latest statistics. Breast cancer rates in the U.S. are 3-7 times higher than those in Asia. This 2005 study conducted at the US Army Institute of Surgical Research and Texas Tech University Health Science Center in Lubbock Texas found that cancerous human breast tissue contained the chemical heptachlor epoxide (found in the common home pesticide chlordane) at levels 4 times higher than non-cancerous breast tissue. Chlordane was the primary termite prevention pesticide used in over 30 million U.S. homes between the mid 1950's and 1988. An estimated 50 million U.S. residents are currently exposed to the volatization of this chemical from previously treated pre-1989 homes on a daily basis.

Dr. Richard A. Cassidy, Sridhar, George M. Vaughan
Tox Free, Inc., Tell City, IN
Texas Tech University Health Science Center, Lubbock, TX
US Army Institute of Surgical Research

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Uber Urban Farmer

Well, we planned on having two garden beds but with work, a kid and a yard that needs a lot of attention the second raised bed only has the 5 sunflowers I planted, dozens of maple saplings, and the wild garlic growing in it. The first raised bed came out nicely though. But still will need work.

The bed is a mount of dirt about three to three and a half feet high, 6 feet wide by 10-12 feet long depending how you measure this ovalish bed. The beds are designed around a landscape that took into account vertical, horizontal and curving lines.

I was impressed with the insect diversity. We had insect eating ladybug and wasps everywhere. There were at least 3 types of bees. I saw a variety of other insects too. I did not have a slug issue. I think it might of been because the bed was raised and did not stay moist. Also the sharp hairs on the pumpkin vines were everywhere. The hairs would of made it impossible for the slug to glide its soft body across them.

I did have a technique when planting. I wanted the garden to block the view straight into our back yard, hence the raise bed. I also wanted to intermingle the plants. I am not into monoculture. The main part of the mount including three side hosted the three types of sunflowers. I clustered them by variety Mammoth at the top, Yellow Heirloom around one side and the Red Heirloom around the other side/top. I then planted pole beans at their base. Two beans per sunflower. The bean grew up the sunflower using it as a trellis. The beans also provided nitrogen in the soil for the other plants. Then for a ground covering and then some I planted a squash...pumpkins for later use at Jake-o-lanterns. This worked out relatively well. Next time I will give the sunflowers a few more weeks head start before transferring the beans into the ground next to them. All plants were grown from seeds.

My spouse sequestered a flatter section of the garden (on the end) for his plantings. He grew a packet of seed that had mixed lettuces. He also had 4 kinds of rather hot peppers and celontro. All from seeds. I was beginning to think that he had adopted the four varieties as long lost children. Luckily our real daughter squeaked into the number one spot. But it was close at times.

There are still fresh beans on the vines. I let some of them dry there to collect later. I will see if I can get them to grow next year. Our harvest so far includes the following.

100 pole beans - Kentucky red and a green variety
52 plants of celontro - herb
7 pepper with a dozen more on the plants (habenero, jalepeno, peruvian heritage, cayenne)
4 the equivalent of four pre mixed salad packages you get from the store
3 dozen sunflowers - red heirloom, yellow heirloom and mammoth
2 pumpkins on their vines

dozens of gone wild lemon balm
dozens of wild garlic

The only thing that didn't make it was the tomatoes. Never even left the pots. Next year.

Things I will change:

1. Get the composter working
2. Get a Rain Barrel
3. Frame in the raised beds

I would like to point out no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or the such were allowed in my garden. The few 30 lb bags of soil we introduced to the garden, well my spouse's part of the garden was organic, bought fromUrban Roots but was sourced from a farm in our area. All our seeds, pots, etc were all from Urban Roots

Friday, August 22, 2008

Playground & Synthetic Chemical Spray

Well, I just got off the phone with the operations department of the Olmsted Parks (Delaware Park) Conservancy. And much to my delight I was informed that the playgrounds (or anything in that area) do not get sprayed with pesticides or herbicide or anything else. They do spray the golf course and the baseball field. They are trying to use plant based sprays when possible but they are more expensive then the petroleum based prays. They are on a budget. Apparently it takes three years to get the all natural sprays working and the ecosystem in balance with natural sprays. Whereas the petroleum spray is a zap'em dead type of deal.

Well at least my organic baby will be safe at Delaware park.

Some studies:

American Journal of Epidemiology List of Chemicals that cause hormone problems Study

EHP an easy source to finding article on health and toxins Study

Are you eating bananas or other food from other countries? Many countries still use DDT. Study

Pesticide concentration higher in woman and those that eat meat Study

Endocrine Disruptor and contamination through water supply into food chain Study

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lunch Boxes

What a fun way to pack a lunch ! These four animals lunch bags were designed by award-winning children’s book illustrator, Stephen Savage and being offered by Nubius Organics. I really want one. But due to the odd looks I would get for carrying one into a board meeting I think I will just have to live vicariously through my daughter.

Yellow Benny the Tiger, Green Meadow Rabbit, Lefty the Black & White Dog
, The Pink Panda.


  • Made from polypropylene and tested lead & food safety.
  • Small handles for small hands.
  • Insulates and protects drinks.
  • Saves hundreds of bags over the course of a year.
  • Unzip to a placemat and stores flat.

Clean Air

Is it me or is the sky clearer? I read a article that China has shut down some major industrial polluters. That pollution gets blown east across the ocean to the U.S. And now I wonder if our sudden clear skies are due in part to China's reduction in air emissions?

There is a history of China's air pollution including mercury traveling east over the ocean to the United States. Maybe with China's air in better health we can also take a deep breath.

Buffalo, NY has a history with air pollution and strong winds like China. As it happen the polluting industries that are still left here are in three major the north in North Buffalo & Tonawanda, NY, to the east on the Buffalo-Cheektowaga boarder and to the south in the South Buffalo area. The wind blows from the southwest to the northeast. So, anyone living east of these facilities get doused with air emission. The south towns, Buffalo's west and central areas seem to be are relatively safe. This is simply because they are up wind from the factories.

To see who the top polluters are you can go to For Buffalo, NY readers here is a list of Top Polluters. The two biggest polluters are both in Tonawanda the Huntley coal plant with 2.6 million pounds and 3M Co. with 684,000 pounds of pollution.

For the Huntley plant Mercury compounds, Lead compounds and Hydrochloric Acid top the list of chemicals. From 1998 to 2002 the non cancerous chemicals have increase by 2969%. No I did not leave out a decimal point.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Arctic Survey

"What do you think will happen to the Arctic?" The following post on informs us of the competition between nations to access the oil reserves under the melting ice in the Arctic. As the ice melts oil sources are exposed. Read further here.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Organic Reuseable Lunch Bags

Back to School and a simple way to go Green is a reusable lunch bag. The bag does not have to be organic. Any reusable bag is a great leap forward into sustainability. But if you do want to move on... featured here is the next step, Organic lunch bag. The first is a simple organic cotton bag that does the trick. It is unbleached and measures 7 x 10.5 x 4.5.

As an alternative is the Mimi The Sardine Lunch bag that is too cute. It looks like a clutch. It is machine washable and measure 8.5 x 10 x 4.5. There are two types the monkey shown to the right and the Mimi The Sardine Bug Bag.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Vaccines - Post IV - NYS School Requierments

Link to NYS Requirements for vaccinations for entry into public schools.

Notice there is a different requirement if your child attends Pre-School or is going to Kindergarten.