Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Musings: Real and Imagined Dangers

It's good to see that Dr. Lee Evslin generally supports the state's thoughtful approach to dealing with fears about agricultural pesticide exposure that he helped foment.

But Evslin quickly exposes his ignorance, and his bias, when he asserts:

The new good neighbor policy will call for 100-foot buffers but that is not enough for vulnerable places like schools. California is moving toward quarter-mile buffers around its schools. This issue will come up again in this year’s state legislative session.

It is now very clear that in Hawaii, these rules legally are the responsibility of the state (not the county) and the state needs to do what is right. California has led the country in examining the science behind buffer zones and we need to follow their lead.

Actually, California's proposal to ban crop dusting and many other forms of pesticide spraying within a quarter of a mile of schools and child day-care centers during daylight hours has been criticized precisely because it isn't based in science.

Yeah, it's political, arbitrary and driven by some the same self-serving activist groups, like Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), that are pushing similar measures in Hawaii. Except they want a one-mile buffer zone.

If Evslin had taken even 15 minutes to research this issue, he would have found that California's proposal followed an appeals court ruling. The judges found that the EPA acted correctly in refusing to institute uniform buffer zones for all pesticides that are registered for application by ground sprayers, broadcast, or aerial application, and that may cause certain human health effects.

The EPA had rejected PANNA's request for across-the-board buffer zones as unscientific and inefficient and likely to result in a misallocation of EPA resources.

The Circuit Court concluded that “substantial evidence” supports EPA’s decision to deny the requested interim relief, stating that “[t]he record suggests that the risk of exposure to pesticide draft depends on a number of factors, including pesticide toxicity, the method of application, the size of pesticide droplets, and weather conditions.”

The judges wrote:

Therefore, substantial evidence supports the EPA's determination that, as a matter of science and policy, the immediate imposition of interim buffer zones is not an appropriate means of mitigating the risk of children's exposure to pesticide drift.

Too bad Evslin didn't educate himself before pushing his own views under the guise of “science.” But then, he already discredited himself on the Joint Fact Finding Group, where he abandoned science in his tortured attempts to show a connection between westside illnesses like diabetes and alcoholism and pesticide exposure.

Though Evslin, various politicians and anti-GMO groups like Center for Food Safety, PANNA and Babes Against Biotech have tried to portray agricultural pesticide exposure as a serious health concern in Hawaii, they have yet to present any evidence that pesticides used by the seed companies are either drifting from the fields in any meaningful amounts or making anyone sick.

Even the Syngenta field worker exposure case, which Evslin cites as an example of how the feds are cracking down, did not result in anyone being sickened, or even exhibiting symptoms. Several workers were held overnight for observation because they had been eating, drinking and smoking after entering a field where pesticides had been applied, and doctors wanted to be sure they hadn't ingested any toxic materials.

Furthermore, a federal study of drift poisoning carried out in 11 states, including California, which uses far more agricultural pesticides than Hawaii, found that drift poisoning is relatively uncommon:

To our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive report of drift-related pesticide poisoning in the United States. We identified 643 events involving 2,945 illness cases associated with pesticide drift from outdoor agricultural applications during 1998–2006.

So they documented 2,945 illnesses over eight years in 11 states, with aerial applications, which are no longer used in Hawaii, responsible for 39 percent of the events. What's more, the “illness severity was low for most cases (92%).” Nobody died.  Given those figures, what's the likelihood that Hawaii folks are being poisoned by ag pesticide drift? Not very high.

Meanwhile, compare those pesticide stats to the record 52,404 Americans who died from drug overdoses — 80 percent due to misuse of opioids — in 2015. These preventable deaths are now more common than automobile fatalities, gun-inflicted homicides and suicides.

And compare it to the 796 drug poisoning deaths reported in Hawaii between 2010-14, the 743 deaths from falls in that same time period, the 614 motor vehicle fatalties, the 604 suffication deaths, the 385 drownings, the 271 shooting deaths, the 84 poisonings, the 66 deaths from cuts and stabbings, the 32 fatalities from fire and burns.

Yes, as Evslin writes, pesticides “are universally acknowledged as toxic.” But that doesn't mean their agricultural use constitutes a health risk in Hawaii.

It's too bad Evslin didn't use his column to address the very real threats to the health and welfare of Hawaii residents — threats that would better warrant the use of funds and fury now being diverted to manufactured concerns around farm pesticides.

But then, that might have required Evslin to do a tiny bit of research, rather than just present his own biased opinion as fact.

Or since Evslin looks at California as a leader, it's unfortunate he didn't take the opportunity to cite a new report from that state's Department of Pesticide Regulation — the same agency proposing the school buffer zone — to reassure readers that fruits and veggies are safe.

In 2015, the California DPR collected 3,600 samples of more than 145 different fruits and vegetables, organic and conventional, domestically grown and imported fruit and vegetable commodities. The results:

• 39.8% had no pesticide residues detected

• 55.8% had one or more detected pesticide residues less than or equal to established tolerances. As in recent years, the majority of these samples had residues at less (usually much less) than 10% of the tolerance level

• 1.2% had one or more illegal pesticide residues in excess of established tolerances

• 3.1% had one or more illegal residues of pesticides not approved for use on the commodities analyzed

Of the organic produce sampled, 83.5 percent had no pesticide residue, 11.8 percent had pesticide residues at levels allowed by organic standards, 2.4 percent had residue levels not allowed under organic standards but accepted under conventional standards and .6 percent has unacceptable residue standards.

The California assessment mirrors the findings of a similar national study, which found that “overall pesticide residues found on foods tested are at levels below the tolerances established by the EPA and pose no safety concern."


Anonymous said...

Now your smarter than a doctor?

Anonymous said...

Better be on the right side of science. Even Luke's dad is not safe from distributing inaccurate information....and Joan likes Luke.

You go Joan.

Anonymous said...

"But Evslin quickly exposes his ignorance, and his bias, when he asserts:"

So, now you want everyone to believe that less biased and more informed than a medical doctor who practices here and devoted his life to treating thousands of Kauai children.

Please remind us all of your education. Otherwise, you are just one more Doctor of Googleology.

And the reason there isn't science backing specific buffer zone distances is not because spraying pesticides on school children is safe, it's because there's no ethical way to do those studies.

Sometime you're funny. Sometimes you just embarrass yourself. Today you are doing both.

Anonymous said...

I believe short or long term exposure to chemical and biological agents are the true concern and for that reason, public safety should be our main concern.

Anonymous said...

You do realize there is science on both sides @8:02.

Joan Conrow said...

@8:23 You're the one who is an embarrassment. First, no one has said that spraying pesticides on school children is safe. It clearly isn't. Second, there is indeed science backing buffer zones. It's what EPA uses to set a buffer zone on a pesticide label. There is no science for uniform buffer zones set arbitrarily.

And just because Dr. Evslin has treated children as a pediatrician doesn't mean he isn't biased, or that he knows anything about pesticides, epidemiology or agriculture. His writings clearly show that he does not, while his behavior on the JFFG clearly shows his bias.

Anonymous said...

Joan, why is everyone who is critical of the industry and/or who cites different science than you do - ignorant? Can't they just have different opinions or perhaps look a the same data and come to different conclusions? Why do you have to slam everyone and anyone who is remotely critical of your industry? Is this a strategy you learn at the Alliance for Science?

Anonymous said...

Joan, but you are not biased----right?! We should believe you, right?!

Joan Conrow said...

@8:45 No, not everyone who is critical is ignorant, though you clearly are when you say things like "your industry." I'm not affiliated with the seed companies.

And yes, people can have different opinions, though it's not so likely they will look at the same data and come to different conclusions.

But in this case, Dr. Evslin specifically said "California has led the country in examining the science behind buffer zones and we need to follow their lead," and I was able to document that he was wrong. So he was either ignorant of the facts, or willfully ignoring them. I chose to give him the benefit of the doubt and go with ignorance.

It's not slamming someone to discredit false statements they've made in a public newspaper.

And 8:48, you don't have to just believe me. I provided citations for all my points so that you can read and discern for yourself — something Dr. Evslin did not do.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:45am please, Joan "slam every and anyone who is remotely critical of your industry?" the hatred, violent temperament and bullshit of the likes of the red shirts, Barca, BAB, etc. are way worse.

Anonymous said...

Joan, you could say "misinformed" rather than ignorant. Or you could respectfully say that Dr. Evslin should have also looked at the info you are citing. The venom you express is not necessary and detracts from your message. "It's not so likely they will look at the same data and come to different conclusions" you state - Joan, look at the world and you will say much of the world is looking at climate change data and coming to different conclusions. People look at the data on Israel and come to different conclusions. They look at the data around the benefits and harm caused by sugar and come to different conclusions etc...this is the way our world works and science is no different. Good people can and do look at the same data and come to different conclusions. You have no universal claim to being right Joan. I strongly encourage you to lighten up a little and give people the benefit of the doubt sometimes. Perhaps the truth is in the middle, somewhere between you and Evslin or between the red shirts and the blue shirts.

Anonymous said...

How about we do a study on IQ on the island. We will test everybody. I'll bet red shirts have a higher IQ than blue shirts and the north shore has a higher IQ than the west side. I'll even bet I have a higher IQ than Joan.

Anonymous said...

I have the email your buddy Beth sent to Bill Arakaki saying it's safe to spray roundup on school grounds which will be made public when her political aspirations get a little higher. Chemical companies do not care about anything but money.

Anonymous said...

I'm a doctor; doesn't mean I know what I'm talking about when I stray from my field of expertise.

Thank you, Joan, for critiquing when it's due, and for all the backup information provided by your analysis.

Joan Conrow said...

@9:30. Why is ignorant a dirty word in your book? There's no shame in ignorance unless it's willful, which actually is starting to appear to be the case with Evslin because he has repeatedly set forth mistruths as facts.

I make no universal claim to being right. It seems you're just unhappy because I criticized someone you support.

As for 10:25, do you really believe the schools themselves haven't been using roundup and also restricted use pesticides?

Anonymous said...

This is a topic of much debate and concern. Within the debate, divides have been drawn that sometimes restrict both sides from positive conversation. I hope one day we can work together to understand each other and come to common ground based on fact, whatever it may be. Until then, I offer the comment and quote below for your consideration. Me ka 'oia'i'o

Pesticide products are reviewed by the EPA for potential human health risks that range from short-term toxicity
to long-term effects. Risks to farm workers, bystanders, potential off-target movement, and the environment are all scientifically assessed. Please see the link below for your review.

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" - Evelyn Beatrice Hall

Anonymous said...

How you gonna tell people you're a doctor and you don't know what you're talking about. Please let everyone know who you are so people have the choice to go to another doctor (medical or another profession). Evslin is a medical doctor and chemistry is apart of his profession and diseases associated with chemical compounds is apart of practicing medicine.

Anonymous said...

And I'll bet all doctors, that aren't in some way associated with any of the chem companies, will tell you to avoid pesticide exposure.

Anonymous said...

If the schools have been using restricted use pesticides and roundup, it should be known and probably stopped because of the detrimental effects it COULD cause. I better ask Arakaki is this is happening. We talked about this at our school and were advised to use salt to kill the weeds or keep mowing until the weeds die and the grass take over.

Guess on island, the word ignorant suggests totally "stupid". . . . . it really is a very negative connotation to describe people. Hope no one refers to me and mine as ignorant!

Anonymous said...

Using salt to kill weeds? That's really stupid. Salt destroys the soil.

Anonymous said...

10:17 If you mean IQ to be "ignorance quotient" then I think we'd all tend agree with you on your "red shirts" and "northshore" comments.

Lee Evslin said...

Joan, you are correct there are definitely two sides to the buffer zone debate in California. The growing concern for the Academy of Pediatrics and other scientific and regulatory bodies is the effect of chronic low level exposure to environmental toxins including pesticides. The growing evidence is that a danger of these chemicals is not that you will drop dead on exposure but that chronic exposure is linked to poor mental and physical health over time.

I have included below references which depict well the evidence that we should be concerned about proximity to agricultural spraying. Studies are demonstrating links between decreased IQ and worsening lung function in children with exposures to agricultural pesticide use. I am very happy to see that the Kauai companies have moved away from residential and school properties but I do believe that the state should follow the debate in California and learn from the science that is emerging.

If you are willing to further discuss this whole issue of pesticides and health, I am quite willing to do so. I am the first to admit that I spent almost an entire career in healthcare without giving much thought to pesticides. It was not until the American Academy of Pediatrics published their review article in 2012 on pesticides with their opening statement about the “growing concern” about low level exposure to children and unborn infants that I became an interested researcher on the topic.


Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Jul 25. [Epub ahead of print]
1. Prenatal Residential Proximity to Agricultural Pesticide Use and IQ in 7-Year-Old Children.
Gunier RB1, Bradman A1, Harley KG1, Kogut K1, Eskenazi B1.

Environ Res. 2016 Oct;150:128-37. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.05.048. Epub 2016 Jun 6.
2. Residential proximity to organophosphate and carbamate pesticide use during pregnancy, poverty during childhood, and cognitive functioning in 10-year-old children.
Rowe C1, Gunier R2, Bradman A3, Harley KG4, Kogut K5, Parra K6, Eskenazi B7.

Thorax. 2016 Feb;71(2):148-53. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2014-206622. Epub 2015 Dec 3.
3. Decreased lung function in 7-year-old children with early-life organophosphate exposure.
Raanan R1, Balmes JR2, Harley KG1, Gunier RB1, Magzamen S3, Bradman A1, Eskenazi B1.

Anonymous said...

Salt is also poisonous if you ingest enough of it.

Anonymous said...

there is a specific type of salt used to kill weeds----also, what about all the salt used to help with snow and ice on the mainland, will they eventually prove to be hazardous? Hey, salt is poisonous if you ingest enough, that is common sense---so guessing that it will kill weeds too! Check it out, people do use salt to kill weeds---safer than roundup!

Anonymous said...

Spoken like a true bitter blue shirt from the westside.

Anonymous said...

Now the blue shirts are smarter than doctors? Is there any doctors on Kauai promoting a GMO pesticide diet? Who do the blue shirts go to?

Anonymous said...

1:03 - Ignorant means lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated. Don't be such an uninformed whimp.

Anonymous said...

@ 3:14 "Is there any doctors on Kauai promoting..."

I guess you're ignorant of basic grammar.

Anonymous said...

Great work Joan but please don't discount what @9:30 is saying he's right on. He demonstrates the ultimate way of consideration of another ones opinions ; agreeing to disagree. You of all people know Hubris at any level is counterproductive, plenty of science is cloaked in EGO as you have shown also. Again keep up the good fight Joan as you remain the only consistent/reliable news source on kauai nei.

Anonymous said...

Aloha Joan for sharing. There are always 2 or more sides to a story. Whether it be the red coats or blue coats or yellow coats, having a high IQ does not mean you are smart. Yes you are intelligent, but do you have common sense enough to light a fire with one match stick or avoid getting stuck in the sand at Polihale. There are a lot of people who like to read your blog and then they try to discredit you. I think that you got "under their skin" that riles them up so.......It is surely fun to read the comments. Keep up the great work..........

Anonymous said...

Triclosan: What You Need to Know About This Dangerous Chemical
Kristine Solomon 22 hours ago

Minnesota has officially become the first state to ban soaps containing triclosan, a once widely used antibacterial chemical that has been proved to “disrupt sex and thyroid hormones and other bodily functions” and which scientists believe can lead to strains of resistant bacteria, according to CBS News. The ban will take effect on Jan. 1.

It turns out triclosan is not just unhealthy for our bodies, but it’s also poisonous to the environment, as researchers at the University of Minnesota found. Their research revealed that triclosan “can break down into potentially harmful dioxins in lakes and rivers.”

Some are saying that Minnesota’s decision is an example of a change that started at a local level, as the North Star State’s decision seems to have inspired a federal ban by the FDA of the toxic chemical; that will be instated in September 2017. “I wanted it to change the national situation with triclosan, and it certainly has contributed to that,” Minnesota state Sen. John Marty told CBS News.

When asked about the federal ban, a spokesperson for the FDA said, “Antibacterial hand and body wash manufacturers did not provide the necessary data to establish safety and effectiveness for the 19 active ingredients addressed in this final rule-making.” Janet Woodcock, MD, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in the statement, “Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water.” She said that in addition to not being useful, some antibacterial ingredients — not just triclosan — can actually cause harm over time.

Anonymous said...

Ignorance is cooking Portuguese Sausage while it's still in the plastic, thinking it's safe.

Anonymous said...

So, as long as your wear a blue shirt you can write and speak pidgin and be intelligent? @4:05

Joan Conrow said...

Lee, thanks for your response and for offering three citations, one of which I was able to find on the Internet. I also appreciate your willingness to continue discussing this issue.

I don't think you and I are actually in disagreement over the harmful effects of pesticide exposure, be it chronic or acute. I agree that it's not healthful to expose children to these products.

My major point of contention with your writings has been over the question of whether people actually are being exposed to pesticides used by the seed companies, which you seem to accept as a given. I also question why you have focused solely on pesticides used by agriculture (the seed companies), with no mention of pesticides used near homes by golf courses, resorts, landscapers and termite treatment companies, as well as residential pesticide treatment performed by contractors and homeowners themselves. Are you advocating for buffer zones between schools and any pesticide user, or only the seed companies?

And do you believe the state legislature, whose members largely lack scientific training, is better qualified than the EPA to establish buffer zones? What criteria should lawmakers be using? If it's not scientifically based, how can these buffer zones be defended against the inevitable "taking" lawsuits?

Anonymous said...

Joan, "taking lawsuits" are perfectly defensible so long as not all use is taken. A pesticide free buffer zone still allows many other uses. Homes have building setbacks. Existing law already treats different types of agriculture differently. CAFOS - concentrated animal feeding operations are required to have set backs and buffer zones have been implemented in many states without issues of "taking". This is a red herring argument with no merit.

Anonymous said...

The chemical companies are the folks using the RUP's, not the golf courses. Termite companies use one specific RUP that is contained within the home and not applied ever outside. Haven't we had this conversation before?

Anonymous said...

That road salt is definitely toxic, corrosive and hazardous; however its dispensed onto impervious surfaces where the drainage is generally treated prior to runoff. And if you've ever owned a car during a mainland winter you know its corrosive and destructive. I doubt roundup would strip the paint off
your car.

Anonymous said...

Red shirt/Blue shirt, you people are so childish. It's like the bloods and the crips fighting for power and territorial control to sell their product. Family members are killed by their own family because of these colors and on Kauai you people use this to symbolize if you are for or against GMO. You people are so petty.

Anonymous said...

If we are discussing our citizens health, the most dangerous place to be is the Plannining Department.
The mental anguish, fear, anger and stupifiing interaction at this County desk, takes years off of ones life.
There no old contractors. There are thousands of geriatric Ag workers.
The carpenters leave us early. Stress and County mess. Developers have an even shorter life span, the County actually slowly psychologically torments them into Mahelonas one rubber room with lots of Thorazine.
County Planning motto. "How long do ya bet it'll take to drive dis one Hoale at the desk crazy?" .......after waiting 15 minutes with no service and then 20 minutes of questions and not a solid answer, the poor builder/Hoale walks away as a beaten confused dog.
Ain't no good health there.

Joan Conrow said...

8:41 -- The taking issue was one of the points raised in the lawsuit challenging Bill 2491/960, in regard to requiring the companies to maintain buffer zones in non-seed crops. It was never decided by the court, which focused on pre-emption, and is far from being either legally resolved or a red herring argument, as you claim.

8:52 -- Golf courses and landscapers do indeed use RUPs, and so do the companies applying pest treatment inside homes. Termite companies use a pesticide that is released into the air once the tent is removed, and they also apply RUPs directly to structures as spot treatment and in the ground to control ground termites. Then there's all the treatment of wood with RUPs prior to construction. Yes, we have had this conversation before, but it seems you're unable to grasp the facts.

As for salt, Portland and other municipalities are moving away from the use of salt because the runoff harms freshwater aquatic ecosystems.

Anonymous said...

You know what get's me Dr. Lee!

guys dying from the drugs. being shot to death, heart exploding, theft and all that shit. Druggies walk into your office and you see them all over the streets on your way home from work and you turn a blind eye.

the voters from central Kauai to the west, all voted for people to represent them in A loud fashion, and you still freaking writing about something we (the silent majority) tried to put to rest with our vote. and boneheads still don't get the message.

the ball is in the state's hands, STFU, step back and watch.

Dr. Lee, the silent majority is freaking tired of your BS, just because you are on a mission (or continuing a mission), it's old shit. Move on with your life, go work on homelessness. go help with the housing problems, go help fill up the agricultural acres with an agricultural program.

but the old saying is still the easiest for you. "the pen is mightier then the sword!" you rather write shit then to do shit. Pick a sword sometime soon, Doc! There's more important tasks at hand then the one the voters just killed.

Thanks Ms. Joan for a great year!

Have a great New Year's celebration!

Anonymous said...

RUP's are not necessarily more toxic than general use pesticides. The difference is that an RUP needs to be applied by a LICENSED applicator. This makes them arguably MORE safe, because people who actually know what they are doing are using them and using them safely. Not like the dozen or so boneheads who live next to schools and misapplied malathion and caused all those school evacuations from 2006 - 2014. Educate yourself and keep your eye on the right target.

Anonymous said...

9:11@. That makes sense. Like arguably mass murders and violent rapists and killers are arguably more safe because they are kept in super high security prisons. Yes.

Anonymous said...

My God, 10:06, you are a moron.

Anonymous said...

10:06 am - who are you comparing to mass murders, violent rapists and killers?

Anonymous said...

How dare that doctor care about the health of others. Who does he think he is

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, the vast majority of people in the medical professions are not well trained or educated in performing scientific experiments, compared to other scientific professions. A friend who was a faculty statistician at a major university use to chronically complain about the poorly designed and analyzed medical experiments she was asked to peer review.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

You stupid fool! The state is covering their ass and the Feds are on the ball. The bill has caused serious discussion, investigation of incidents and collecting data. You gudots are low to no skilled labor. Who cares if you fools get cancer and die. Someone does and those people were decent enough to raise concern for you, your families and friends health and safety. You dummies just don't get it and no one can teach you guys nothing because you people don't want to learn but will easily die as an ignorant slave instead of fighting against big corp (kingdoms) atrocities against the poor and undereducated.

Anonymous said...

@3:48, stupid fools in hawaii and kauai live longer then the national average. US uneducated live longer even in an agricultural community.

F U too.

Live a great life you none Kauaian.

Anonymous said...

To 3:48 PM

Who are you calling a stupid fool, gudots, and dummies? The State DOA pesticide investigator did all the work, the State DOA and DOH, along with UH, did the pesticide sampling studies work. AND, pay attention, they found NOTHING of significance, as anyone trained in this field would expect.

Decent enough to raise concern for us??? You mean bash us over the head with unfounded fear-mongering about non-issues? You mean scare us into focusing limited energy and money into trying to get rid of decent jobs on island?

Sure, Komrade, those evil corporations are what's ruining our lives here, not the drug epidemic, not the lack of good education and jobs, not the outrageous cost of living, the traffic, and the loss of close-knit "can-do" community, and the rise of the self-centered, lazy whiners.

Anonymous said...

7:39 PM - You missed one. All the dope-addicted parents pushing out babies who receive no morality or decent upbringing from their drug-addled parents. Just think about what those households are like...or their beach tents. The kids have little chance of being decent people themselves.

Anonymous said...

You just proved what you are defined as.

Anonymous said...

That's just about 50% of the population on island and in the state of Hawaii.

Anonymous said...

Horrible stuff and it's everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Born and raised Kauai.