April 2015 News Bulletin: US pressures EU on pesticide rules; BPA is OK (if you ignore most studies); and more

April 13, 2015 at 4:44 pm | Posted in News and Science Bulletins | Leave a comment

April 2015 News Bulletin

The US Government Is Pressuring Europe to Dial Back Its Pesticide Rules. There’s an important debate going on in Europe that could dramatically influence how pesticides are used on the United States’ 400 million acres of farmland. At the center of the debate are endocrine disruptors, a broad class of chemicals known for their ability to interfere with naturally occurring hormones, and the impact on US agriculture which an EU ban on endocrine-disrupting pesticides could have. (Mother Jones)

BPA Is Fine, If You Ignore Most Studies About It. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is either a harmless chemical that’s great for making plastic or one of modern society’s more dangerous problems. Depends whom you ask. “There’s too much data consistent across studies…time and time again…to ignore it and suggest BPA has no effect on humans,” says Gail Prins, a physiologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. But the plastic industry, researchers it funds and, most important, many regulatory agencies—including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)—say BPA is safe for humans at the levels people are exposed to. (Newsweek)

Chemical Exposure Linked to Billions in Health Care Costs. Exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals is likely leading to an increased risk of serious health problems costing at least $175 billion (U.S.) per year in Europe alone, according to a new study. (National Geographic)

Hand-Me-Down Hazard: Flame Retardants in Discarded Foam Products. On 1 January 2015 California implemented the first U.S. rule mandating that certain products containing polyurethane foam be labeled to identify whether they contain chemical flame retardants. Furniture industry experts predict flame-retardant-free couches, chairs, and other padded furnishings and products will be popular with consumers and large purchasers, and the new labeling law, known as SB 1019, is expected to have influence beyond the state’s borders. Crate and Barrel, IKEA, and La-Z-Boy are among the manufacturers that reportedly offer or will offer furniture with no added flame retardants. (EHP)

Widely used herbicide linked to cancer. The cancer-research arm of the World Health Organization last week announced that glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, is probably carcinogenic to humans. But the assessment, by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, has been followed by an immediate backlash from industry groups. (Nature)

How Lab Rats Are Changing Our View of Obesity. Obesity stems primarily from the overconsumption of food paired with insufficient exercise. But this elementary formula cannot explain how quickly the obesity epidemic has spread globally in the past several decades nor why more than one third of adults in the U.S. are now obese. Many researchers believe that a more complex mix of environmental exposures, lifestyle, genetics and the microbiome’s makeup help explain that phenomenon. (Scientific American)

Doctors and academics call for ban on ‘inherently risky’ fracking. Fracking should be banned because of the impact it could have on public health, according to a prominent group of health professionals. In a letter published by the British Medical Journal on Monday, 20 high-profile doctors, pharmacists and public health academics said the “inherently risky” industry should be prohibited in the UK. (The Guardian)

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