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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on December 28th, 2016, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 17, Issue 43 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 17, Issue 43

Pesticide mixtures could pose increased risk to farmworkers, pollinators

By BRENNA SWANSTON

Environmentalists and farmworker rights advocates are standing up to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about the latest point of concern in the world of pesticides: synergy, or the mixture of pesticides with other chemicals that enhance their toxic effects.

On Dec. 21, 15 conservation and farmworker advocacy groups wrote to the EPA urging the agency to protect people from the dangers of pesticide synergy. The letter came just weeks after a Santa Barbara County farmworker forum, where field laborers aired their concerns regarding pesticide exposure, among other issues.

Pesticide exposure could pose increased risks when two or more pesticides are mixed together, but the potential dangers lack government research. A July 2016 study by the Center for Biological Diversity stated that though "pesticide mixtures in the environment have been extensively documented, the Environmental Protection Agency generally only assesses the toxicity of pesticides individually, in isolation from potential real-life scenarios where these pesticides may interact with other chemicals."

In a news release from the center, Environmental Health Director Lori Ann Burd said the EPA should require pesticide companies to disclose data they've collected on pesticide synergy, and the agency should consider the data when assessing the safety of those chemicals.

"The EPA has essentially ignored the well-known fact that pesticides, when combined, are often more dangerous than on their own," Burd said in the release.

In the groups' letter to the EPA, Burd claimed that it's "highly likely" the agency underestimates the negative impacts of pesticide synergy. The letter also pointed out a recent pollinator risk assessment for Imidacloprid—a pesticide widely blamed for killing bees nationwide, including in Santa Barbara County—which noted that Imidacloprid was often mixed with fungicides.

"These mixtures have real impacts on pollinators and other wildlife that the EPA must take into account and act upon when it makes pesticide registration decisions," the letter stated.