Non-Toxic Updates, and Action Needed at Monday 8/7 Council Meeting

First, if you haven’t already:

  1. Sign the petition.
  2. Share the flyer on Facebook, and with friends and neighbors.
  3. Plan to attend the Council meeting on Monday.
  4. Email your public comments to, or by visiting the Surf City Pipeline. Some ideas for public comments at the end of this post.

Next, we have lots of non-toxic news to report:

  • On Monday 8/7, staff will make its first three-month report to Council on the results of the non-toxic pilot program in Central Park West. And staff has great news for us: the first-year pricetag of taking HB not only non-toxic but completely chemical free is just $540,000. That is less than half of Irvine’s first year, and less than the city spent last year on “Books/Subscriptions” even before our $360 million budget increased an extra $14.5 million. And every city that has gone with a non-toxic Integrated Pest Management program has bent the cost-curve down near zero, or even saved money, within a few years.
  • But there is no vote planned for Monday. Staff is merely reporting on initial progress of the pilot program. UCI scientists are prepared to come explain to the Council how pesticides harm us and our children when the Council is set to act, but the City Manager has not agendized Council action yet. If Council asks staff to put a proposed IPM as an action item on the September agenda, the council may vote on it during National Child Cancer Awareness Month. (HB cancer clusters are still at large, and yet to be explained.)
  • Councilmembers Hardy and O’Connell are supportive of going non-toxic. Last week, I met with four other councilmembers, and I will be meeting with the last of the councilmembers, Erik Peterson, on Monday. One councilman, up for reelection next year, wanted assurances — via SurveyMonkey, he helpfully suggested — that residents would prefer spending the money going non-toxic to fixing potholes. (As a rule, however, I oppose commissioning SurveyMonkeys, or any other monkey, to do the job we elect councilmembers for.) Another councilwoman, also up for reelection next year, agreed.
    So the Council needs you to remind them that exposing us to known carcinogens is not an acceptable way to save a buck. The city routinely pushes tens of millions of dollars around the budget every year in non-budgeted, non-essential re-allocations when it wants new computer software, or staplers, or magazine subscriptions. It can manage this modest public-health expense.
    Remember: Children and Pesticides Don’t Mix:
  • Besides, $540,000 is just 15/100ths of 1% of the city’s budget. And of the $14.5 million in increased funds from last year, the city proposed to spend
    • $197,000 increase for landscaping (FY 2017/2018 Proposed Budget p. XII)
    • $254,000 for senior center recreation (Id.)

    TOTAL: $451,000 new quality-of-life expenses

  • We are also making council aware of the NY Times reporting this week of the recent disclosures in the Monsanto litigation, featuring an admission by a Monsanto official that “you cannot say that Roundup is not a carcinogen,” yet further showing Monsanto engaged in ghostwriting to spread the falsehood saying just that.
  • The staff’s estimate also does not yet include the impact on the city’s general liability budget. There’s already an $855,300 increase in the city’s general liability insurance. Adding to last year’s $476,744 increase, the city is spending $1,332,044 more for liability insurance since FY 2015/16. How much more will potential toxic-tort liability add for continued glyphosate use? Cities are explicitly liable for pesticide harm to the same extent as private persons (Gov. Code, § 862), so as Monsanto goes, so goes the city. Watch that space.

Finally, here are some further facts and points you might incorporate into your public comments on Monday:

  • No child should be exposed to a Prop 65 carcinogen merely for cosmetic purposes.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics says that there is no safe level of pesticide exposure for children.
  • If conventional landscaping appears cheaper, it’s only because you’re not including the external costs (chemotherapy and hospitalization) that will ultimately be paid by residents.
  • Published studies report 2,4-D can pass from mother to child through umbilical cord blood and breast milk. Scientific studies show that pesticides drift and accumulate, and when 2,4-D is applied to turf/lawns it drifts and is tracked indoors where it settles in dust, air and surfaces and may remain for up to a year in carpets. (Sources: Environmental Science Technology and Environmental Health Perspectives)
  • The EPA does not test pesticides for safety. Of the 36 most commonly used lawn care pesticides registered before 1984, only one has been fully tested and evaluated – sulfur. The EPA registration is not a safety rating. The EPA does not conduct research to determine the potential health effects of pesticides, nor does EPA consider university research into pesticide safety. The EPA merely asks pesticide manufacturers to conduct their own research and submit it. This is what led to DDT, lead paint, and tobacco to persist for so long. EPA actually confirms that no pesticide can ever be considered perfectly “safe.”
  • A Harvard Meta-Analysis ties Childhood Cancer to pesticide exposure. It states that children are at particular risk from exposure to pesticides because they take in more of a pesticide than adults relative to their body weight and have developing organ systems that are less able to detoxify chemicals.
  • “Pesticides are designed and manufactured to kill organisms. Parents should avoid using these chemicals in the vicinity of their kids, and in places where the kids spend a lot of time.” Chensheng Lu of Harvard School of Public Health. A Harvard study published by Lu found that outdoor pesticides used as weed killers were associated with a 26 percent increased risk for brain tumors. Harvard University switched to organic landscaping in 2008.

Hope to see you Monday!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: