Saturday, January 4, 2020

Pesticides and Biological Life

I realize there are times when pesticides are seemingly inescapably necessary but I have problems with the routine use of them, especially on food and in our homes.

A recent study published in the Journal of American Medicine finds that exposure to the class of pesticides known as pyrethroids, which are widely used in the course of daily life, are correlated with increased risk of death:
Bao W, Liu B, Simonsen DW, Lehmler H. Association Between Exposure to Pyrethroid Insecticides and Risk of All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality in the General US Adult Population. JAMA Intern Med. Published online December 30, 2019. doi:

Question: Is pyrethroid exposure associated with long-term mortality in the general US adult population?

Findings In this cohort study of a nationally representative sample of 2116 adults in the United States, higher exposure to pyrethroid insecticides, indicated by higher levels of general pyrethroid metabolite 3-phenoxybenzoic acid in urine samples, was associated with a higher risk of death from all causes or cardiovascular disease over 14 years of observation.

Meaning Environmental exposure to pyrethroid insecticides appears to be associated with an increased risk of long-term all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality in the US general adult population.
The article notes that this class of pesticides are used in households, as pet sprays and shampoos, lice treatment and mosquito repellents, among other applications. This class of pesticides account for approximately 30 percent of the insecticide market globally.

Many people think it necessary to spray their homes with pesticides to keep out pests, but I've found over the years that there are a number of alternatives that can be deployed, including sealing up external cracks and crevices (especially around windows and sliding doors), sweeping regularly outside near house and vacuuming frequently inside the house.

I live on the edge of the desert and have all sorts of critters trying to get into my house. These strategies are largely effective and do not poison me or my local environment.

The unthinking and routine deployment of pesticides (and also herbicides) by households is often overlooked as agricultural uses tend to get more attention.

Clearly, dosing our food with toxic chemicals is a bad idea and should be stopped. I try and eat organically to avoid being poisoned by my food but recognize that this ability to eat organically today is a privilege of my upper-middle class status.

Unfortunately, governments everywhere too often unequivocally support the chemical industry and elevate their interests over the common good.

For example, in July 2019, the US EPA declined to ban a class of pesticides - the chlorpyrifos - that studies funded by the agency linked to developmental delays in children:
Schulte, C. (July 22, 2019). Trump Administration Refuses to Ban Neurotoxic Pesticide EPA Science Says Chlorpyrifos Exposure Threatens Public Health. Human Rights Watch.

Last week, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided not to ban chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic pesticide that, according to studies funded by the agency, has been linked to developmental delay in children. This decision is just the latest example of the Trump administration obstructing public and environmental health regulations of toxic materials. 
Pesticides should be reserved for the most pressing of emergency situations rather than being routinely deployed in agriculture and in our homes.


  1. The petroleum propellants are probably as bad, or worse than the insecticide. If you saw a line of insecticide can manufacturing, at a large oil refinery and chemical plant in New Jersey, Chicago, or Louisiana, you would think twice, about buying a can of Raid. American's live in bubbles. They are killing off the insect diversity around them.
    It is additive, with the other poisons. American inginuity at work.
    People, who live in large, polluted cities that drive everywhere , are pretty silly and shallow to bring up this sort of thing.
    The nuclear reactor in their town is doing more to kill life diversity around them than any other source of poisons.

    1. Pyrophoricity of Radionuclides and other industrial polltants

      Charles J (1966). "The Reaction of Pyrophoric Lead with Oxygen". The Journal of Physical Chemistry. 70: 1478–1482. doi:10.1021/j100877a023.
      ^ DOE | Office of Health, Safety and Security | Nuclear Safety and Environment | Uranium, retrieved 3 September 2013; archived on 24 August 2010.
      ^ DOE | Office of Health, Safety and Security | Nuclear Safety and Environment | Plutonium, retrieved 3 September 2013; archived on 28 September 2010

    2. Pyrophorics can ignite spontaneously. The burn white hot, like the thorium, in the old mantle lanterns. Radionuclides are by far and above, the strongest pyrophorics known to man. They include most classes of radionuclides: acinides like thorium, urannium, transuranics like plutonium, alkali metals like cesium 137. They are highly active, in trace amounts. No one is talking about this.
      Nasty wildfires are common in moist industrial areas now. Especially in nucleoape countries. In populated areas on the coasts of Australia, where people in cars, burn masses of hyrocabons, with uranium, radium and thorium traces in them.. Wgere therehemical factories petroleum refineries that create natural radioclide waste fwith high concentrations of heavy metals and the natural radionuclides thorium, uranium, radium.
      In the French Riviera and Greece. California. Scandanavia. China. Chernobyl. Japan. Wildfires that are serious threats to populations.
      There is also a great amount of uranium residue, in the environment from fracking.
      Most reactors are on bodies of water. Reactors emit pyrophoric radionuclides in places like Palos verdes in arizona.
      There is also uranium mining, nuclear fuel production depleted uranium and isotope production, from nuclear waste. Massive flintlocks for drought and climate change related wildfires. Methane release in the arctic with tracw radionuclides.

      Some of the worst are common around nuclear reservations in Russia, siberia and the USA. The wildfires in those areas put large amounts of radionuclides into the air . No one talks about it.

      ^ DOE | Office of Health, Safety and Security | Nuclear Safety and Environment | Uranium, retrieved 3 September 2013; archived on 24 August 2010.
      ^ DOE | Office of Health, Safety and Security | Nuclear Safety and Environment | Plutonium, retrieved 3 September 2013; archived on 28 September 2010
      Charles J (1966). “The Reaction of Pyrophoric Lead with Oxygen”. The Journal of Physical Chemistry. 70: 1478–1482. doi:10.1021/j100877a023.

      Phosphine, PH3 is only pyrophoric if impure, with P2H4 present.
      ^ GHS, seventh revised version.
      ^ N. Pradeep Sharma, Dictionary Of Chemistry
      ^ a b c Angelo & Subramanian (2008), Powder metallurgy: science, technology and applications, p. 48, Powders of aluminium, iron and magnesium are highly pyrophoric in nature
      ^ C.W. Corti et al. / Applied Catalysis A: General 291 (2005) 257
      ^ Pyrophoric lead composition and method of making it

    3. The death of the planet through fire, nuclear insanity and armed conflagration


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