Eye on Green Diamond Week 8: Raining Herbicides in the Coastal Redwoods

By
Friday, May 14th, 2010

Atrazine applied on clearcut near Korbell. Photo by Jen Kalt

Atrazine applied on clearcut near Korbell. Photo by Jen Kalt.

Many of us are aware of the dangers of herbicides and pesticides in our food and water. But can we trust Green Diamond to take precautionary measures when it comes to our health and the health of the fish, amphibians, and birds?

Green Diamond claims that these pesticides and herbicides are relatively harmless. With a little research, however, EPIC staff questions these conclusions. As one step in their controversial plantation forestry model, Green Diamond plans to use Triclopyr in combination with 2,4-D, Imazapyr, and Oust in 2010 in many sites along the Klamath River. In addition to these chemicals, they commonly use Atrazine.

To view a map of 12 sites Green Diamond plans to spray this year along the Klamath River within Yurok Reservation boundaries, click here.

Green Diamond lists many reasons to apply herbicides after logging, but often they cite the need to protect tree seedlings from competitive, faster growing shrubs, grasses and trees. To illustrate, one need only look to CalFire’s website and find the list of Timber Harvest Plans for the Northcoast region. In the lengthy section on Chemical Contaminants, found in subsection a 2d. under Section 4: is a section titled Cumulative Impacts of Timber Harvest Plans. In this section, they disclose a wide variety of chemical herbicides they may choose to use post-harvest. Application of chemical herbicides and pesticides are regulated by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the Northcoast Regional Water Quality Control Board (NCRWQCB).

But Green Diamond is not held accountable for conducting any investigation into the harm that these chemicals cause.

The legal standards that regulate the use of these chemicals cannot be relied upon for upholding ecosystem or human health. The standards are often established through the use of flawed, industry tested datasets and then formulated into standards, and codified by the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA regulations are unreliable by their own standards, as indicated by this quote on their website:

“Note! There are significant gaps in U.S. EPA’s current pesticide product data. Errors in the raw data include close to 13,000 missing product records, over 40,000 secondary products with no primary product record, missing formula data and other errors. US EPA is aware of this and working on fixing the problems.” ( http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/ )

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2,4-D is the common brand name for Frontline manufactured by Dow. 2,4-D is listed by the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) as a PAN bad actor chemical, these are one or more of the following: highly acutely toxic, cholinesterase inhibitor, known/probable carcinogen, known groundwater pollutant or known reproductive or developmental toxicant. ( ). In laboratory animals, human cells, and exposed people 2,4-D causes genetic damage. 2,4-D affects hormones in exposed people. It is classified as a possible carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Studies of exposed farmers support this classification. 2,4-D exposure is associated with low sperm counts and damaged sperm and male sex organs. More EPA studies and reports available from pesticide.org. Even moderate exposure of 2,4-D severely impairs reproduction of honeybees and it has been found to be toxic to birds.

Triclopyr, whose common brand names are Garlon3A and Garlon 4, are manufactured by Dow AgroSciences. They are corrosive to eyes and can cause allergic skin reactions. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. In laboratory tests, tricolopyr caused an increase in the incidence of breast cancer as well as an increase in a type of genetic damage called dominant lethal mutations. It is damaging to kidneys and causes a variety of reproductive problems. For example, in laboratory tests, it accumulates in fetal brains when pregnant animals are exposed. Tricolopyr is highly toxic to fish and inhibits behaviors in frogs that help them avoid predators. Feeding triclopyr to birds decreases the survival of their nestlings. Triclopyr is mobile in soil and has contaminated wells, streams, and rivers.

Oust is manufactured by DuPont. Its chemical name is sulfometuron methyl. This herbicide causes eye discomfort, tearing, and blurred vision. In laboratory tests, it caused anemia, atrophied testicles and testicular lesions, and increased the incidence of fetal loss. This product causes DNA damage in the colon of laboratory animals. Because of limited monitoring, little is known about how often sulfometuron methyl contaminates rivers and streams. Enough sulfometuron methyl to kill desirable vegetation can persist in soil for a year or more after application. Minute amounts can disrupt plant reproduction. ( .)

Imazapyr called by either Chopper or Arsenal and manufactured by BASF Corporation is another chemical listed by PAN as a bad actor chemical. Imazapyr is corrosive to eyes causing irreversible damage. Adverse effects found in laboratory animals after chronic exposure to imazapyr include: fluid accumulation in the lungs of female mice, kidney cysts in male mice, abnormal blood formation in the spleen of female rats, an increase in the number of brain and thyroid cancers in male rats, and an increase in the number of tumors and cancers of the adrenal gland in female rats. Imazapyr moves readily in soil and can persistent in the soil for over a year. Persistence studies also suggest that imazapyr residues damage plants at concentrations that are not detectable by laboratory analysis thus having the potential to seriously impact rare plant species. Meanwhile over a half-dozen weedy plant species have developed resistance to this herbicide.

And in addition there are the hazards of “inert” ingredients in these pesticides. This particular example shows the inert ingredients associated with 2,4-D but some or all are in all of the chemicals Green Diamond uses. Inert ingredients are neither identified on pesticide labels nor included in most of the health and safety testing required to register.