President Trump Signs Executive Order Banning Illegal Immigrants From 2020 Census Count For the Purpose of Congressional Representation

(Cristina Laila) President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order banning illegal aliens from 2020 Census count for the purpose of Congressional representation.

The post President Trump Signs Executive Order Banning Illegal Immigrants From 2020 Census Count For the Purpose of Congressional Representation appeared on Stillness in the Storm.

Woot! Los Angeles County Bans Use of Roundup Weedkiller

Roundup, the popular weed-killer linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, will not be sprayed in Los Angeles County for now after its Board of Supervisors issued a moratorium on the application of the herbicide, citing a need for more research into its potential health and environmental effects. [1]

The board asked the Department of Public Works to team up with other health officials to survey the use of glyphosate, the main active ingredient in Roundup.

In August 2018, a San Francisco jury ordered Bayer to pay a school groundskeeper $289 million in the world’s first Roundup trial. That amount was later reduced to $78.5 million. The groundskeeper had alleged in his lawsuit that exposure to glyphosate caused his terminal cancer. Then, on March 19, another San Francisco jury concluded that Roundup caused another man’s cancer. The moratorium in Los Angeles County was issued the same day.

In 2017, glyphosate was added to California’s list of carcinogenic substances under the state’s Proposition 65 law.

LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger recommended the ban, saying:

“I am asking county departments to stop the use of this herbicide until public health and environmental professionals can determine if it’s safe for further use in LA County and explore alternative methods for vegetation management.”

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl co-authored the motion, which cites “a growing body of scientific study” of herbicide safety and its potential health effects. [2]

Kuehl said:

“In a 2015 study led by 17 experts from 11 countries, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that glyphosate should be classified as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans.’ That conclusion makes it imperative that we question any long-term use of this controversial herbicide, and that’s exactly what this motion calls for.”

Monsanto has strongly contested the IARC’s conclusion.

In a statement, Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook applauded the moratorium. [1]

“Kicking Bayer-Monsanto and its cancer-causing weedkiller off LA County property was absolutely the right call. We know glyphosate causes cancer in people and shouldn’t be sprayed anywhere – period.”

A report is expected back in 30 days. [2]

Sources:

[1] U.S. News & World Report

[2] NBC Los Angeles

EPA Bans Household Use of Paint Stripper, but Not Commercial Use

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday banned retail sales of methylene chloride, a popular but highly dangerous paint-stripping chemical, but opted to leave it on the market for commercial use – a decision that angered some health advocates.

The agency banned methylene chloride due to “acute fatalities that have resulted from exposure to the chemical.” The agency said that the substance poses “unreasonable health risks.”

Methylene chloride exposure is tied to at least 64 deaths, according to the advocacy group Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, which had advocated against the chemical.

Exposure to the paint stripper ingredient can cause fluid to build up in a person’s lungs, along with headaches, dizziness, and difficulty walking, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns. Serious or repeated exposures can lead to brain damage, and high levels of exposure can cause “fainting and even death,” according to the agency.

Alexandra Dunn, the assistant administrator for chemical safety, said that if the agency determines that “the risks to users of this chemical for paint and coating removal in the workplace cannot be managed, then EPA would make a legal finding again under the statute and make the appropriate risk management decision, which could be banning it or restricting its use in some way.”

The ban is expected to go into effect sometime in November.

Some retailers have already taken products containing methylene chloride off of store shelves, including Home Depot, Sherwin Williams, and Lowe’s.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) doesn’t believe the ban goes far enough and criticized the Trump administration for making “a significant retreat” and not extending the ban for commercial use, with one EWG attorney accusing the administration of “catering to the wishes of the chemical industry.”

Environmental groups said that prior to the March 15 ban, they had been unable to think of more than 1 instance in which the Trump administration tightened, rather than loosened, environmental or public health protections. [2]

The ban had also been championed by the families of individuals who died after being exposed to methylene chloride, including the family of 21-year-old Kevin Hartley, who had been trained on how to properly use the chemical, and the family of 31-year-old Drew Wynne, who used methylene chloride to clean the floor of his start-up coffee company. Both men died in 2017.

Relatives of the deceased men met with then-EPA Commissioner Scott Pruitt and with lawmakers in 2018 to discuss the matter and encourage a ban.

Sources:

[1] CNN

[2] Associated Press

Maryland May Be the 1st State in the Nation to Ban Foam Food Containers

Maryland could become the first U.S. state to ban polystyrene foam containers after both chambers of the state legislature passed bills this month banning food containers from being made with the substance.

A conference committee will work out the differences between the 2 bills, according to Del. Brooke Lierman, the sponsor of the House of Delegates version.

Polystyrene foam, more commonly referred to as Styrofoam, breaks up into tiny pieces and pollutes both land and sea. Baby fish consume bits of polystyrene that they’ve mistaken for food and it often kills them. As well, polystyrene cannot be recycled. [1] [2]

Styrofoam is also believed to pose health risks to humans. Last year, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) wing classified polystyrene “probably carcinogenic to humans.” It has been linked to an increased risk of cancers of the pancreas and esophagus, as well as to leukemia and lymphoma, in workers exposed to high levels of polystyrene on the job.

From the House floor, Lierman said: [2]

“The House just voted to make Maryland the first state to ban foam food containers. Maryland may be a small state, but we have the chance with this legislation to LEAD the country on eliminating this horrible form of single-use plastic from our state. We have a duty to future generations to clean up the mess that has been made – this bill is an important step!”

In order for the proposal to move forward, it must next be approved by Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, who has yet to clarify his stance on the issue. According to Spokesperson Shareese DeLeaver-Churchill, the Governor is “always willing to consider any piece of legislation that reaches his desk.” [1]

With Logan’s signature, the ban would go into effect on July 1, 2020. Violators could face $250 fines.

Certain types of foam would still be permitted for use, including those packaging raw meat. Some food products packaged in polystyrene outside of the state, as well as polystyrene use outside of food service, would still be permitted, according to Ashley Van Stone, executive director of Trash Free Maryland.

Single-use foam containers have already been banned in individual U.S. cities, including New York, Minneapolis, and Santa Monica. In the state of Maryland, the counties of Prince George’s, Montgomery, and Anne Arundel have already prohibited foam packaging.

Sources:

[1] USA Today

[2] The Huffington Post

At Last! FDA Bans Use of 7 Synthetic Food Additives

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the use of 7 synthetic food additives used to mimic natural flavors like mint and cinnamon. [1]

You’ve probably never heard of benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, methyl eugenol, myrcene, pulegone, or pyridine, because food manufacturers are permitted to label them as “artificial flavors.”

But none of these additives will ever be used in food products again, though the FDA is giving manufacturers time to remove them from the food supply.

The move follows a petition brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Center for Food Safety (CFS), the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), and other environmental and consumer groups.

Erik Olson of NRDC called the decision “a win for consumers,” saying the group’s petition “laid out the science” linking the additives to cancer.

“The law is very clear that any chemical that causes cancer is not supposed to be added to our food supply.”

In a statement on the petition, the FDA said it had concluded that the chemicals were safe for consumers, but not for animals.

“The synthetic flavoring substances that are the subject of this petition are typically used in foods available in the U.S. marketplace in very small amounts and their use results in very low levels of exposures and low risk.

While the FDA’s recent exposure assessment of these substances does not indicate that they pose a risk to public health under the conditions of their intended use, the petitioners provided evidence that these substances caused cancer in animals who were exposed to much higher doses.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program tested the additives and found they caused cancer in 2 species of lab animals, the FDA said. [2]

Under the Food, Drugs, and Cosmetic Act of 1938, any substance that is found to cause cancer in humans or animals cannot be used as a food additive. [1]

Six of the substances will be removed from the agency’s food additives list based on the NRDC’s evidence that they are carcinogenic to animals, the FDA said. The 7th substance, styrene, will be removed simply because it is no longer used by the food industry.

According to the NRDC, the de-listed additives are found in a wide swath of foods, including ice cream, baked goods, beer, gum, and more. But Olson said it is impossible to know how ubiquitous the substances actually are because manufacturers are not legally required to disclose their presence.

The FDA will give manufacturers 2 years to “identify suitable replacement ingredients and reformulate their food products.”

The 6 de-listed additives still used in the industry have a natural counterpart in food or nature, which the FDA said are not affected by the decision. For example, mycrene and eugenol are naturally occurring in basil. [2]

In 2016, the FDA banned 3 other synthetic additives following a petition by the NRDC and a handful of other environmental groups. It began accepting public comment on the 7 newly-banned chemicals, in addition to Trans,trans-2,4-hexadienal.

A regulatory loophole allows food manufacturers to add potentially toxic ingredients to their products without as much as an FDA safety review. What’s more, companies don’t have to inform the agency when it adds one of these substances to a product.

Americans deserve to know what additives go into their food, especially when there is doubt over their safety.

Sources:

[1] NPR

[2] CNN

Judge Orders EPA to Ban Pesticide Linked to Brain Damage in Children

A federal appeals court ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on August 10 to ban the sale of a commonly-used pesticide that has been linked to learning disabilities in children. [1]

In a 2-to-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit concluded that the EPA offered “no defense” of its decision to keep the pesticide, chlorpyrifos, on the market, and violated the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in failing to ban the chemical. Under the law, the EPA is required to ban chemicals from being used on food if they have been proven to be toxic to humans.

The EPA has 60 days to finalize a ban.

Judge Jed S. Rakoff wrote in the court’s opinion: [2]

“The panel held that there was no justification for the EPA in its 2017 order to maintain a tolerance for chlorpyrifos in the face of scientific evidence that its residue on food causes neurodevelopmental damage to children.”

The agency was reviewing the decision, according to Michael Abboud, spokesman for acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, but it had been unable to “fully evaluate the pesticide using the best available, transparent science.”

In March 2017, now-disgraced former EPA chief Scott Pruitt signed an order allowing the organophosphate insecticide to remain on the market for agricultural use. Chlorpyrifos has been applied to various crops since the 1960’s, including broccoli and cranberries. [1]

The agency proposed a permanent ban on applying chlorpyrifos to food crops in November 2015, citing risks to human health. The proposal was fueled by a risk-assessment memo issued by 9 EPA scientists that concluded: [2]

“There is a breadth of information available on the potential adverse neurodevelopmental effects in infants and children as a result of prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos.”

However, Pruitt put the kibosh on those plans in March 2017 in what was one of his first – and most infuriating – decisions as head of the agency. No real reason was given for the reversal, but Pruitt claimed that the Obama administration had used sketchy studies “whose application is novel and uncertain” to conclude that chlorpyrifos was a dangerous chemical, but vowed that the EPA would continue to study its effects. [1]

It should be noted that Pruitt reversed the Obama-era decision just 20 days after his official schedule showed a meeting with Dow CEO Andrew Liveris. Liveris was heading a White House manufacturing working group at the time, and he had written a $1 million check to help underwrite Trump’s inaugural activities. [2]

Then-EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said that the meeting never occurred and that the 2 men only shared “a brief introduction in passing” while attending the same industry conference in Houston, and that they never discussed chlorpyrifos.

Yet internal EPA memos released earlier in 2018 following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by the Sierra Club seemed to indicate the men did, in fact, meet.

A Little About Toxic Chlorpyrifos

Click for larger version.

Dow Chemical Co. created chlorpyrifos in the 1960’s and it quickly became one of the most widely-used agricultural pesticides in the United States. The company’s subsidiary, Dow AgroSciences, sells approximately 5 million pounds of the chemical each year. [1]

Chlorpyrifos is part of a group of pesticides known as organophosphates that are similar in their chemical composition to a nerve gas developed by the Nazis during World War II.

Due to its widespread use, traces of chlorpyrifos is commonly found in drinking water. In 2012, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley found that 87% of blood samples taken from the umbilical cords of newborn babies contained detectable levels of chlorpyrifos.

Pressured by federal regulators, Dow voluntarily pulled chlorpyrifos intended for household use from the market in 2012. Additionally, the EPA established “no-spray” buffer zones around schools and other sensitive sites in 2012.

Chlorpyrifos has been found to lower intelligence and decrease cognitive function in children, while research shows that pregnant women who are exposed to the pesticide are at risk of giving birth to a child with “significant abnormalities” in brain structure. This is the case even at low or moderate levels of exposure.

Prenatal and early childhood exposure to chlorpyrifos and other organophosphate pesticides have also been found to decrease lung function in ways similar to exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke.

Furthermore, chlorpyrifos has been linked to attention deficits, delayed development, and poor school performance in children.

Senior director of health and food at the Natural Resources Defense Council, Erik Olson said the court’s order forcing the EPA to ban chlorpyrifos represents “a victory for parents everywhere.”

“Some things are too sacred to play politics with – and our kids top the list. The court has made it clear that children’s health must come before powerful polluters.”

Sources:

[1] The Huffington Post

[2] ABC News