EPA Considers Banning Gender-Bending Pesticide
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is holding a Scientific Advisory Panel public meeting on June 12 to review and consider the ecological risks from the use of Atrazine, one of the most widely used herbicides in the U.S. The EPA has announced they are seeking public comments regarding this potential ban. The chemical, produced by Swiss agrochemical company Syngenta, has been banned in the European Union since 2004, but 80 million pounds of it are applied in the U.S. each year. Atrazine is the most commonly detected pesticide in American groundwater. It is used primarily on corn, sugarcane, rice, sorghum and on golf courses and lawns. Environmental groups including Save The Frogs, Center for Biological Diversity and Natural Resources Defense Council are calling for a federal ban on the use and production of Atrazine.
Atrazine is a potent endocrine disruptor that has been shown to cause immunosuppression, hermaphroditism and even complete sex reversal in male frogs at concentrations as low as 2.5 parts per billion. The chemical has been linked to reproductive defects in fish and prostate and breast cancer in laboratory rodents, and epidemiological studies suggest it is carcinogenic to humans. Atrazine is extremely persistent in the environment: it is still detectable in France 15 years after its last usage there. More than half a million pounds of Atrazine return to the Earth each year in rain and snow after it is caught in the airstream following spraying.
Atrazine has been under serious scrutiny over the past several years as an abundance of scientific literature on its harmful effects have been published by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the University of California, Berkeley and the University of South Florida. On April 29, 2011, the international Save The Frogs Day, activists gathered at the steps of the EPA’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of the disappearance of amphibians and call for a federal ban on Atrazine. Amphibian populations worldwide have been declining at unprecedented rates, and nearly one-third of the world's amphibian species are threatened with extinction. “Atrazine is the 21st century’s DDT,” says Dr. Kerry Kriger, founder & executive director of SAVE THE FROGS!, America’s first and only public charity dedicated to protecting amphibians. Dr. Kriger led the Save The Frogs Day Rally and hand-delivered 10,012 petition signatures to the EPA’s Pesticide Division the following week.
“Now that we have the EPA’s attention, we are a large step closer towards protecting our food supply, our drinking water and our wildlife from this known endocrine-disruptor," says Dr. Kriger. “However, only a few percent of Americans have ever heard of Atrazine, so raising awareness of the issue is critical if we are to overcome the lobbying power of the billion-dollar agro-chemical giants." Atrazine is produced by Syngenta, the world’s largest pesticide company, who reported more than $11 billion in revenues in 2010.
California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.
High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.
Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.
California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.
As reported by AccuWeather:
In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.
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By Monir Ghaedi
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep most of Europe on pause, the EU aims for a breakthrough in its space program. The continent is seeking more than just a self-sufficient space industry competitive with China and the U.S.; the industry must also fit into the European Green Deal.
European satellites continue to provide data on climate change.