DPR Plans More
Restrictions on Methyl Bromide
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation
will propose new methyl bromide regulations to restrict levels of the
fumigant that may persist in the air for several weeks. The new rules
would impose the first geographic use limits on methyl bromide in the
nation, and DPR will call on federal regulators to adopt a national
standard based on the California model.
The proposed regulations are aimed at enhancing
protection for workers and others who face potential exposure when
multiple fumigations occur in the course of several weeks -- also known
as "seasonal" exposures.
DPR has not found any imminent health hazard to
communities from seasonal exposures to methyl bromide in recent years,
based on air monitoring of high-use areas. In 2001, the highest ambient
air samples were slightly more than half the level at which DPR would
take action under the new rules.
"Our proposed regulations are preventive, not
reactive," said DPR Director Paul Helliker. "Air monitoring data,
combined with the best scientific evidence available, show that
seasonal air levels of methyl bromide pose no immediate health concerns
for communities. At the same time,
we want to enhance protection for workers who may face ongoing exposure
to methyl bromide from field fumigation."
California agriculture has dramatically reduced its
use of methyl bromide in recent years, and the state no longer leads
the nation in field fumigations. "But some methyl bromide applications
may well continue due to a lack of alternatives," said Helliker. "DPR's
goal is to ensure that
any future uses of methyl bromide in California will continue to
provide a sufficient margin of safety for workers and the public," he
"California now has the most comprehensive,
stringent restrictions on methyl bromide in the country, and we urge
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to adopt our rules as a
national standard," said Helliker. "While affording greater protection
for all, this would also provide a level playing field for agriculture
and create more incentive to find safer and more effective alternatives
to methyl bromide."
DPR previously adopted regulations aimed at limiting
short-term (24-hour) exposures to methyl bromide in the air to no more
210 parts per billion (ppb). While maintaining that same short-term
DPR now proposes an additional regulatory action level averaging no
than 9 ppb for seasonal (four-to-eight-week) exposures for
children, and 16 ppb for adults. (One part per billion is equivalent to
one second of time in about 32 years, or one drop of liquid in a full
tanker of a gasoline delivery truck.) DPR's action levels for both
short-term and seasonal exposures include a 100-fold margin of safety.
To prevent air levels from exceeding these seasonal
regulatory standards, DPR proposes to limit any single township to
total applications of less than 270,000 pounds a month. (A township is
a survey unit of 36 square miles.) In 2001, the highest monthly
application occurred in a township on the border of Santa Cruz and
Monterey counties. That township had total applications of 202,000
pounds in one month.
DPR already requires buffer zones and other
precautions near schools and other sensitive sites that meet the 9 ppb
air standard for children. The new rules will mandate more protective
gear and work-time restrictions for laborers (based on the 16 ppb adult
DPR has posted the proposed regulations online at
Fact sheets are posted at <www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/dprdocs/methbrom/mb_main.htm
DPR's proposed regulations are based on numerous
scientific studies and extensive air monitoring conducted since the
1990's. DPR scientists completed a risk assessment for methyl bromide
1999 and sent their scientific document to the National Academies of
(NAS) for review and comment. An NAS panel endorsed DPR's findings for
short-term exposure action levels.
In 2000, DPR imposed new regulations for methyl
bromide that included buffer zones, advance notification for field
other protections. The rules were based on the 210 ppb standard for
exposures. No regulatory action level was set for seasonal exposures,
to a lack of scientific data, but DPR used a provisional "target level"
1 ppb to identify areas with the highest seasonal air levels of methyl
DPR scientists then began to review air monitoring
data and assess the need for additional regulatory safeguards. The NAS
supported DPR's approach. The panel also recommended an additional
study to establish subchronic (seasonal) action levels for methyl
DPR's methyl bromide regulations have been the
subject of lawsuits by both environmental and agricultural interests.
To resolve that litigation, DPR agreed to reassess the regulations'
potential economic impact on farmers, and to consider seasonal exposure
standards. The rules imposed in 2000 were readopted as emergency
regulations, pending introduction of a new regulatory package this
After reviewing all available data, DPR scientists
recommended seasonal exposure action levels of 9 ppb for children, and
16 ppb for adults. The recommendation was based on studies considered
for DPR's 1999 risk assessment, supplemented by a recent study
submitted by the methyl bromide industry to address specific subchronic
However, some industry advocates have argued that
DPR should allow exposure levels of up to 36 ppb for children and 64
ppb for workers. Some environmental advocates favor a 1 ppb level. DPR
expects to hear more on this issue during the public comment period.
DPR's actions on methyl bromide are separate from
regulatory actions under the federal Clean Air Act and the Montreal
Protocol, an international agreement. Based on evidence that methyl
bromide depletes the ozone layer in the stratosphere, the United States
has agreed to end production of the fumigant by 2005. However, federal
and international authorities are now considering "critical exemptions"
to allow continued use when no feasible alternatives exist.
Meanwhile, DPR and California agriculture have
already made significant strides in reducing methyl bromide use.
California used 42 percent of all methyl bromide produced in the United
States for farm field
fumigation in 1997, according to U.S. EPA. By 2001, California's farm
use had fallen to 27 percent of the national use, compared to 45
percent for Florida, according to industry estimates provided to U.S.
That decline corresponds to DPR use reports that
show methyl bromide use in California fell from more than 15 million
pounds in 1999 to 6.6 million pounds in 2001. Factors contributing to
the decline include increasing DPR restrictions, use of other
fumigants, research on less-toxic alternatives supported by DPR and
industry; and reductions mandated by the Clean Air Act.
REF: California Department of Pesticide Regulation
News, September 18, 2003 (03-16)
Surveillance Report for
The Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network
(FoodNet) released its FoodNet Surveillance Report for 2001.This final
report is used to document the effectiveness of new food safety control
measures in decreasing the number of cases of foodborne diseases that
occur in the U.S. each year.
Following are key findings as disclosed in the Executive Summary:
REF: FSNET September 9, 2003
- "There has been a sustained decline in the incidence of Yersinia,
Listeria, Campylobacter, and Salmonella typhimurium over the past
six years. These declines indicate important progress toward achieving
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2010
objectives of reducing the incidence of several foodborne diseases by
the end of the decade. However, additional measures will be needed to
further reduce the incidence of these diseases to achieve our national
health objectives by 2010."
- "The decline in the incidence of infections cause by Yersinia,
Listeria, Campylobacter, and Salmonella typhimurium are unlikely
to be due to surveillance artifacts. FoodNet conducts several studies
to monitor the surveillance factors that can influence the incidence of
these laboratory-diagnosed foodborne diseases. These factors include
the frequency with which persons with gastrointestinal symptoms seek
medical care, the frequency with which diagnostic stool specimens are
submitted to clinical laboratories, and the frequency with which the
laboratories routinely test stool specimens for various pathogens. We
are unaware of any changes in these factors that might explain the
magnitude of the declines observed in the reported foodborne
- "Food animals are major sources of Yersinia, Listeria,
Campylobacter, and Salmonella typhimurium. One contributing factor
to the decline in foodborne infections caused by these pathogens is
likely to be change in the industry and regulatory approach to meat and
poultry safety. Beginning in 1997, the USDA-FSIS began implementing the
Pathogen Reduction/Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (PR/HACCP)
systems regulations in the meat and poultry slaughter and processing
plants. Additional evidence of the contribution of the USDA regulations
to the decline in the incidence of Salmonella infections in
humans described in this report is the decline in prevalence of Salmonella
isolated from FSIS-regulated meat and poultry products."
- "Enhanced surveillance and outbreak investigations have
identified new control measures and focused industry attention on
foodborne illness, so that control measures are more likely to be
implemented. Recent interventions include egg safety programs for the
prevention of Salmonella enteritidis infections, increased
attention to fresh produce safety through better agricultural practices
on farms and [in] food processing, regulation of fruit and vegetable
juice, industry efforts to reduce food contamination, food safety
education, and increased regulation of imported food."
- "Although there have been important declines in the incidence of
infection for several foodborne diseases, the incidence of foodborne
diseases remains high. Efforts to reduce the rate of foodborne diseases
might include steps to reduce the prevalence of these pathogens in
their respective important animal reservoirs; e.g., cattle (Escherichia
coli O157), egg-laying chickens (Salmonella enteritidis),
and seafood, particularly oysters (Vibrio). Implementation of
nationwide, consistent, on-farm preventive controls would reduce the
risk of human illness from Salmonella enteritidis-contaminated
- "The lack of a sustained decline in E. coli O157 infections
indicates a need for increased efforts to reduce the burdens of these
infections. Preventing E. coli
O157 will not be a simple task
because it is transmitted through food, water, person-to-person
contact, and direct animal exposure. FoodNet studies and recent
outbreaks have shown that an important route of transmission is direct
contact with cattle or their environment. Strategies that reduce E. coli O157 on
farms could decrease direct contact infection and
food contamination, as well as entry into the water supply."
- "The high incidence of foodborne diseases in infants and young
children is a major concern. FoodNet studies have shown that
breast-feeding of infants is important in preventing foodborne disease
in infants. To determine other opportunities for prevention of
foodborne diseases among children, FoodNet began a case-control study
in 2002 of sporadic cases of Salmonella and Campylobacter
among young children."
- "The increase in the incidence of
infections caused by Salmonella newport represents an
emerging challenge to public health. Many of these isolates are
resistant to nine or more antimicrobial agents, including all
agents approved for oral use in children. Further studies are necessary
to understand and resolve these problems. FoodNet recently began a
case-control study of sporadic cases of Salmonella newport to
assess possible risk factors and opportunities for prevention."
FDA Issues Advisory on Star Anise
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is
advising consumers not to consume "teas" brewed from star anise.
It has come to FDA’s attention that brewed "teas" containing star anise
have been associated with illnesses affecting about 40 individuals,
including approximately 15 infants. The illnesses, which occurred over
the last two years, ranged from serious neurological effects, such as
seizures, to vomiting, jitteriness and rapid eye movement.
Although the labeling of "teas" that contain star
anise does not make
claims for the product, FDA understands that these products are
popularly believed to help against colic in infants. FDA is unaware of
scientific evidence to support benefits from "teas" brewed from star
anise. Given that fact, consumers should not use them or give them to
infants and children.
FDA has not yet identified the specific type of star
with the illnesses. For this reason, the agency is issuing this
advisory as an interim measure while it continues to gather additional
information, including that from some European countries that have
reported similar outbreaks of seizures in individuals who have consumed
tea brewed from star anise.
"One of FDA’s highest priorities is to make sure
that consumers have
accurate information about the products FDA regulates," said FDA
Commissioner Mark B. McClellan. "This case illustrates that FDA will
take action to
protect consumers against products that may pose health risks."
FDA is concerned that commonly available
Chinese star anise (Illicium verum), a product considered by FDA to be
generally recognized as safe (GRAS), may contain Japanese star anise
(Illicium anisatum), which has long been recognized as toxic in many
countries and which should be used for decorative purposes only
At this time, FDA cannot determine if the star anise associated with
the illnesses was associated with Japanese star anise or a mixture of
Chinese and Japanese star anise.
Japanese star anise in its dried or processed form
distinguished from Chinese star anise through visual examination.
Therefore, FDA is
evaluating chemical analytical methods that will differentiate between
the two species of star anise. Until FDA is able to differentiate
Japanese and Chinese star anise, it is advising the public not to
"tea" brewed from any star anise. As part of its ongoing efforts to
consumers from unsafe products, FDA will monitor imports of star anise
entering the United States from various countries to ensure that any
of Japanese star anise are not labeled or otherwise indicated for use
FDA considers Chinese star anise to be GRAS when
used as a spice or
flavoring; Japanese star anise is not GRAS. GRAS status means that a
food substance is considered by qualified experts to be safe for is
Safety must be adequately shown through scientific procedures and/or
based on a common history of use in food, depending on the substance.
The initial reported illnesses were identified
a record review after a resident physician from Miami Children’s
Hospital treating an infant with seizures associated with the ingestion
of a star anise-containing tea reported his findings to the Florida
Poison Information Center (FPIC). FPIC then reported the findings to
All the affected individuals, including infants,
involved in these
reported cases recovered without complications.
FDA has since learned of similar reports from
Florida, Illinois, New
Jersey, Texas, and Washington as well as the Netherlands, France, and
As a public health agency, FDA is committed to
protecting and advancing
the public health. FDA is therefore exploring what additional actions
it can take to protect consumers from the risks from products
containing Japanese star anise.
REF: FDA News, September 10, 2003
FDA Announces Plans to Enforce FQPA
FDA has released draft guidance on how it plans to
enforce pesticide tolerances shortly after EPA has changed them through
FQPA-mandated reassessment process. If FDA finds a food containing a
pesticide at a level that was previously allowed but has since been
prohibited, the party responsible for the food must demonstrate that
the residue is the result of a lawful pesticide application or use that
occurred before tolerance changes became effective to avoid enforcement
action, the administration said in its draft guidance.
FDA is not asking companies to maintain a specific
set of documents to support those claims. Instead, it will be up to the
firm to determine how it will document that the food was packed or
processed during acceptable timeframes. FDA suggests that companies use
information associated with packing codes and batch and inventory
This enforcement approach will apply to both
domestic and imported food. Normally, foods containing illegal
pesticides or residue levels are found by FDA to be in violation of the
law. But FFDCA Sec. 408 (1)(5) exempts such food from enforcement as
long as the pesticide in question was applied in a lawful manner; the
residue doesn’t exceed the previously set level; and EPA hasn’t
determined that consumption of the food poses unreasonable dietary
Companies will be given an opportunity to show FDA
that a formerly approved residue is the result of legal application
through the date by which the administration anticipates that such a
product would remain in the channels of trade. That date is termed the
“showing date.” For example, FDA sad that “for certain processed foods,
i.e. frozen, dried, and canned foods, this date will generally be four
years from the time the treated crop is harvested” because that is the
length of time such food is expected to move through the marketplace.
After that, FDA will assume that a company can’t show that an illegal
residue is the result of a lawful application or use and initiate
enforcement action. Companies will have an opportunity to challenge
In defining showing dates, FDA plans to consider the
• Degradation rates of pesticides. If the degradation rate is known,
FDA can determine when the formally approved residues on a product will
diminish to non-detectable levels. In such cases, FDA said it is likely
to designate the showing date for the processed food as the last date a
residue, resulting from a legal pesticide application or use, would be
detectable in fresh food.
• Market clearance. If a pesticide remains at detectable levels the
entire time the food is in the marketplace, FDA is likely to designate
the showing date based on how long it would take a lawfully treated
fresh product to clear the market.
For each pesticide that is subject to a tolerance
change under FQPA, FDA will publish on its Web site the showing dates
it intends to use for affected food commodities. It will also publish
any other determinations it has made on a tolerance, such as the last
day FDA expects a lawfully treated product to be in the marketplace.
The proposed guidelines can be found at
www.cfsan.fda.gov/`dms/pesguid.html. (Pesticide &
News, Vol. 31, No. 40, July 28, 2003)
REF: Pesticide Reports, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. October
USGS Releases Study on Toxic Rainfall
in San Joaquin Valley
The pesticides diazinon and chlorpyrifos were found
in all rainfall samples collected by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
in the area of Modesto, Calif., during January and February 2001
storms. The concentrations of these two insecticides in the rainfall
samples exceeded proposed state guidelines for the protection of
aquatic life in most samples, by up to a factor of 10 for diazinon, and
up to a factor of 7.4 for chlorpyrifos.
“Many pesticides become airborne during the
application process and can drift off-site,” said Michael Majewski, a
USGS scientist and expert in atmospheric deposition who contributed to
the study. “After they are applied, many pesticides volatilize into the
lower atmosphere, a process that can continue for days, weeks, or
months after the application, depending on the compound. In addition,
pesticides can become airborne attached to windblown dust.”
Rainfall samples collected during the dormant spray
season in Modesto and the surrounding agricultural areas exceeded the
state guidelines for diazinon concentrations by an average factor of
5.7 for diazinon and 3.1 for chlorpyrifos. Simultaneously, storm runoff
samples were collected from an urban storm drain where diazinon
concentration exceeded the proposed state aquatic life guidelines by an
average factor of 9.5. Sixty-eight percent of the diazinon
concentration found in the storm drain runoff could be accounted for by
the concentration in the rainfall.
Additionally, samples were collected from the San
Joaquin, Merced, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne rivers, and Orestimba Creek
during this study.
Sixty out of a total of 240 of these samples
exceeded the proposed state guideline for diazinon and 18 for
chlorpyrifos. The highest concentrations of diazinon occurred in the
San Joaquin River where concentrations exceeded the state guidelines by
as much as 3.6 times. The highest chlorpyrifos concentrations occurred
at Orestimba Creek where samples exceeded the state guidelines by a
factor of 3.4.
“It is important to recognize that the application
of these pesticides affect all parts of the hydrologic cycle,” said the
report’s lead author, USGS scientist Celia Zamora. “It is during
rainfall events that these pesticides get washed out of the atmosphere
and produce runoff at surprisingly high levels that exceed the
guidelines for protection of aquatic life.”
The study will continue through 2004 at six sites in
the San Joaquin River Basin and two additional sites in the Sacramento
River Basin. The complete results of the study will be
forthcoming. This study was funded by the California Department
of Pesticide Regulation to provide additional information to the
Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board for their
development of Total Maximum Daily Load regulation for diazinon and
chlorpyrifos in the San Joaquin Basin.
The USGS report entitled, “Diazinon and Chlorpyrifos
Loads in Precipitation and Urban and Agricultural Storm Runoff during
January and February 2001 in the San Joaquin River Basin, California,”
by Celia Zamora, Charles R. Kratzer, Michael S. Majewski, and Donna L.
Knifong, can be found on the web at: http://water.usgs.gov/pubs/wri/wri034091
(FIEN email updates, August 18, 2003)
REF: Pesticide Reports, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension
Service. December 2003
DPR Releases Pesticide Use
Statistics for 2002;
New Database Provides More Public Access
The California Department of Pesticide
today reported that total pounds of pesticide applications rose 14
percent from 2001 to 2002, although use still fell below every other
year in the past decade.
Preliminary DPR statistics show reported
totaled 172 million pounds, compared to 151 million pounds in 2001, and
188 million pounds in 2000. Pesticide use in previous years ranged up
to more than 214 million pounds.
Higher acreage in several major crops helped
pesticide use, according to a DPR analysis. (The 2002 summary includes
a five-year analysis of pesticide use for 14 major commodities.)
Pesticide use varies from year to year, depending on pest pressure,
weather, acreage, cropping patterns, economic conditions, and other
Search for data online
More detailed pesticide use data can also be
accessed through a
new DPR online feature, the California Pesticide Information Portal
(CalPIP). The CalPIP database provides public access to detailed
pesticide use information from 1990 to 2001. (Data for 2002 are
expected to be available on CalPIP by the end of this month.)
Sulfur accounted for nearly one-third of the
increase in pounds
for 2002. Sulfur typically accounts for about one-third of all pounds
applied annually. A natural fungicide used by conventional and organic
growers, sulfur is also more economical than some other fungicides.
Major crops with an overall increase in
pesticide pounds applied
included processing tomatoes (3 million pound increase), raisin and
table grapes (3 million pounds), carrots (2.2 million pounds), almonds
(2.1 million pounds), potatoes (1.6 million pounds), and wine grapes
(1.5 million pounds). Major crops with fewer pounds applied included
cotton (900,000 pounds).
Use varied among categories of pesticides.
carbamate use declined again in 2002, by 700,000 pounds (8 percent) and
600,000 acres treated (8 percent). DPR has undertaken a number of
initiatives -- including grant programs and regulatory actions -- to
reduce the use of these highly-toxic insecticides.
Fumigant use varied by chemical. In the face of
restrictions and a federal phase-down, methyl bromide use continued to
decline, down by 21,000 pounds in 2002, to less than 6.6 million
pounds. (Since 1995, methyl bromide use has fallen by more than 10
million pounds.) Meanwhile, 2002 use of the replacement fumigant
metam-sodium increased by 4.2 million pounds (37 percent), and use of
the fumigant 1,3-D increased by 1.4 million pounds (35 percent).
Statistical changes from 2001 to
- - Use of reduced-risk pesticides increased by 183,000 pounds (32
percent) and by 845,000 acres treated (29 percent).
- - Chemicals classified as reproductive toxins increased by 1.8
million pounds (9 percent) but decreased by 300,000 cumulative acres
treated (10 percent). The increase in pounds was predominantly due to
use of metam-sodium.
- - A similar pattern appeared for chemicals classified as
carcinogens. Use of these chemicals increased 3.4 million pounds
(15 percent) but decreased by 200,000 acres (5 percent). The increase
in pounds was mostly due to metam-sodium and 1,3-D.
- - Chemicals categorized as ground water contaminants increased
by about 220,000 pounds (11 percent). Cumulative acres treated
increased by about 18,000 acres (1 percent). Most of the increase was
due to applications of the herbicides diuron and simazine.
In analyzing pesticide data, DPR calculates
both pounds applied
and cumulative acres treated because these statistics offer different
perspectives on use.
While many pesticides are used at a rate of one
to two pounds per
acre, fumigants are often applied at hundreds of pounds per acre, so
gauging use in pounds emphasizes fumigants. As measured in pounds
applied, the top pesticides in 2002 included sulfur (53.6 million
pounds), petroleum oils (17.7 million pounds) , metam-sodium (15.5
million pounds), methyl bromide (6.6 million pounds), and the herbicide
glyphosate (5.6 million pounds).
Use by acres treated
As measured in acres treated, top pesticides
included sulfur (5.6
million acres) and three herbicides: glyphosate (3.6 million acres),
oxyfluorfen (1.6 million acres), and paraquat dichloride (1.4 million
acres). The widely-used insecticide chlorpyrifos (1.2 million acres) is
also on the list. These statistics reflect cumulative treated acres.
(For example, one acre treated five times equals five treated acres.)
The statistics do not reflect planted acreage.
Since 1994, reported pesticide use, as measured
in pounds, has
fluctuated from year to year, according to DPR analysts. They found
that relatively short periods of time (three to five years) may suggest
trends, such as the increased pesticide use from 1994 to 1998, or
decreased use noted from 1998 to 2001. Overall use patterns from 1994
to 2002 do not establish a firm statistical trend.
However, DPR's pesticide use data are valuable
for other purposes.
The data helps DPR conduct pesticide risk assessments, formulate
guidelines to protect field workers, devise restrictions for endangered
species habitat, assist with programs to preserve air and water
quality, and develop least-toxic pest management strategies.
To help provide better public access to
pesticide use information,
DPR has created the CalPIP database, the nation's most extensive source
of pesticide use information. The system was activated for testing
several months ago, and has already received more than 1,000 queries
and retrieved more than ten million records.
The free, public access system can provide
statistics by year, application location, the site or crop treated, the
pesticide product name, the chemical name (active ingredient), and the
application pattern (ground or air).
For example, a user could request the following
many pounds of pesticide were applied in my county in a particular
year? In my zip code? How many pounds of herbicides were applied to
apples in my zip code? What were the herbicide brand names? How were
After such queries are submitted to CalPIP, the
processes the information, then notifies the user by e-mail and
provides an online link to the data requested. Query results can be
displayed as graphs or tables that can be viewed online, or downloaded
to the user's computer.
CalPIP also allows users to link pesticide use
data in with DPR's
database of labels for the 12,000 pesticide products registered in
California. DPR's pesticide label database includes such information as
the manufacturer, pesticide type (such as herbicide, insecticide,
disinfectant), active ingredient, target pests, application sites (such
as crop, roadside, or structure), and certain chemical and
Future enhancements for CalPIP may include
links to DPR databases
for pesticide residues, surface and ground water, and illness reports.
To access the CalPIP database, link to <http://calpip.cdpr.ca.gov
Questions about use of CalPIP should be e-mailed to:
Note to editors: Statistics for individual counties and other
lists may be found at <www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/pur/pur02rep/02_pur.htm
Department of Pesticide
Regulation Press Release, November 13, 2003 (03-20)
World Health Report 2002
The World Health Organization's (WHO)World Health Report 2002, which
was officially launched on 30 October last year, represents one of the
largest research projects ever undertaken by the World Health
Organization. The report, subtitled Reducing risks, promoting
healthy life, measures the amount of disease, disability and death
in the world today that can be attributed to some of the most important
risks to human health. It then goes on to calculate how much of this
present burden could be avoided in the next 20 years, opening the door
to a healthier future for people in all countries.
For the first time, a summary of the report in all
six WHO official languages - English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese
and Russian - appears on the WHO website.
The report identifies the top ten risks, globally
and regionally, in
terms of the burden of disease they cause. The ten leading risk factors globally are:
underweight; unsafe sex; high blood pressure; tobacco consumption;
alcohol consumption; unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene; iron
deficiency; indoor smoke from solid fuels; high cholesterol; and
obesity. Together, these
account for more than one-third of all deaths worldwide.
REF: WHO website.
Among Adults --- United States, 2001
Questions and Answers
FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
has released a new document on perchlorate, the chemical that made
headlines earlier this year when it was found in a small number of
winter-grown lettuce sold in California grocery stores. To read the
Q&A go to: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/clo4qa.html
REF: USDA CFSAN/Office of Plant & Dairy Foods &
Beverages, September 20, 2003
One of the national health objectives for the
United States for 2010 is to reduce the prevalence of cigarette smoking
among adults to <12%. To assess progress toward this
objective, CDC analyzed self-reported data from the 2001 National
Health Interview Survey (NHIS). The findings of this analysis indicate
that, in 2001, approximately 22.8% of U.S. adults were current smokers
compared with 25.0% in 1993. During 1965-2001, smoking prevalence
declined faster among non-Hispanic blacks aged >18 years
than among non-Hispanic whites the same age. Preliminary data for
January-March 2002 indicate a continuing decline in current smoking
prevalence among adults overall. However, the overall decline in
smoking is not occurring at a rate that will meet the national health
objective by 2010. Increased emphasis on a comprehensive approach to
cessation that comprises educational, economic, clinical, and
regulatory strategies is required to further reduce the prevalence of
smoking in the United States.
REF: Morbidity and
Mortality Weekly Report October 10,
Norovirus, also known as Norwalklike viruses, may be
the leading cause of foodborne illness. According to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is now thought that at least
50 percent of all foodborne outbreaks of gastroenteritis can be
attributed to noroviruses.
Familiar to many as the culprit causing illness
among cruise lines in 2002, the viruses can be transmitted by food, or
person to person. They can be tough to stamp out and persistent problem
According to CDC, most outbreaks are likely to arise
through direct contamination of food by a food handler immediately
before it is eaten. Food and drink can easily become contaminated
because it may take fewer than 100 norovirus particles to make a person
sick. Outbreaks have frequently been associated with cold foods,
including various salads, sandwiches, and bakery products.
To help reduce norovirus-related illnesses, CDC has
a new Web site
• Norovirus Q&A
• Norovirus fact sheet
• Norovirus and food handlers
The site also includes a 24-page publication called
“Norwalk-like Viruses: Public Health Consequences and Outbreak
REF: The Food Safety Educator, Volume 8, No. 2, October
New Information on Dioxins
Dioxins is a
subject that can
be complex and confusing. New materials provide information about the
Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) draft risk assessment on
dioxins (also called the dioxin reassessment). In addition to
background information, these materials discuss possible effects of
dioxin exposure in humans, include advice about consumption of food
that might contain dioxins and explain the process for reviewing the
report before it is finalized. The questions and answers provided here
are not meant to comment on the scientific validity of the EPA report
and should not be taken to indicate that the analysis or conclusions of
the draft EPA dioxin report are final. For more information, see the CFSAN
REF: IFT Weekly
California Restricts Ephedra
California has enacted a bill (SB582) to ban
the sale and
distribution of dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids.
Licensed practitioners can continue to prescribe or dispense such
products (or their drug equivalents) and pharmacists can dispense them
for certain medical conditions, but they cannot do so for purposes of
weight loss, body building, or athletic performance enhancement.
Products of this type that are not for resale within California are
REF: Consumer Health Digest #03-41, October 21,
Consumers in Oregon Area Advised
of Risks Associated With Raw Sprouts
The Food and Drug Administration has been alerted
to a recent increase in Salmonellosis cases by the Oregon Public Health
Services possibly associated with the consumption of raw sprouts.
To date, six cases of Salmonella have
been reported possibly linked to the consumption of sprouts. It is not
clear what type of sprouts were the cause of the illnesses.
In light of this outbreak, FDA is reiterating its
previous alerts about eating raw sprouts. Those persons who wish to
reduce the risk of foodborne illness from sprouts are advised not to
eat raw sprouts. This advice is particularly important for children,
the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems, all of whom are
at high risk of developing serious illness due to foodborne disease.
People in high-risk categories should not eat raw sprouts.
Salmonella is an organism that can
cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail
or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy
persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever,
diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In
rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in
the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe
illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms),
endocarditis (swelling of the lining the heart) and arthritis. Most
cases resolve without the need for medical attention.
REF: FDA News Release,
November 26, 2003.
Food Safety Publications
For complete listings and links to the USDA's Food
Inspection Service publications go to: (http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/pubs/consumerpubs.htm
FSnet Nov. 2/03
Allergic to Latex?
Poinsettia Plants May Pose Risk
Individuals with latex allergy should be cautious
around poinsettia plants, since exposure may result in a severe
allergic reaction, according to preliminary research findings presented
by Peter M. Ranta, M.D., Augusta, Ga., at the recent Annual Meeting of
the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) in New
The ornamental poinsettia plant (Euphorbiaceae),
popular during the Christmas holiday season, is part of the same plant
family as natural rubber latex (NRL), which is obtained from the
Brazilian rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis). Dr. Ranta and colleagues
found two cross-reactive proteins in poinsettia extracts that
correspond to proteins in natural rubber latex.
Agnet Nov. 20/03
State Health Department Issues
Health Warning on Lead-Contaminated Chapulines (Grasshoppers)
Sacramento, CA – Consumers, particularly
pregnant women and children, should avoid eating chapulines
(grasshoppers) from Oaxaca, Mexico, because they may contain
excessively high levels of lead that could cause serious health
problems, State Health Director Diana M. Bontá, R.N., Dr.P.H.,
"Lead is toxic to humans, especially infants, young
children and developing fetuses, in both short- and long-term
exposures," said Bontá. "Lead can cause damage to the central
nervous system, resulting in learning disabilities and behavioral
disorders that could last a lifetime."
Residents from some regions of Mexico eat
chapulines (chap-oo-lean-ès) as a traditional snack food.
Chapulines are usually prepared with ingredients such as garlic, salt,
lime juice or a red chili powder coating. They are not widely available
in commercial distribution and usually brought into the United States
by individuals who have recently visited Oaxaca or other parts of
The product, often a dull red color, is sold in
small, unlabeled bags at Hispanic retail food stores, in restaurants
and at flea markets. The public and sellers of chapulines are
encouraged to contact the California Department of Health Services
(CDHS) at (916) 445-2264 to provide information that can assist public
health investigators in learning more about the potential threat that
the product poses to children.
Recent analysis of chapulines from Oaxaca,
Mexico, showed that they may contain as much as 2,300 micrograms of
lead per gram of product. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
has recommended that children under age 6 should consume on average no
more than 6.0 micrograms of lead each day from all food sources. A
young child eating one of these highly contaminated chapulines could
ingest nearly 60 times his or her tolerable daily intake for lead.
While some of the chapulines analyzed contained no detectable lead,
consumers have no practical way of determining if the product is
contaminated with lead. The source of lead in the chapulines from
Oaxaca is under investigation.
CDHS began investigating the product after it was
referred to the department by the Monterey County Health Department.
County investigations of several lead poisoning cases involving
children determined that the children were eating chapulines. CDHS
investigators are working with FDA and local health departments to
ensure that the wholesale and retail food industries are aware of the
potential hazards associated with lead in foods.
Parents of children who may have consumed chapulines
with their physician or health care provider to determine if further
testing is warranted. For more information about lead poisoning,
parents may contact their local childhood lead poisoning prevention
program or local public health department. Additional information and a
list of local lead prevention programs are also available at DHS' Web
site at: http://www.dhs.cahwnet.gov/childlead/
or by calling the California Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention
REF: CDHS press release, 03-92 November
that time of year again...
Warns Against Eating Wild Mushrooms
Sacramento, CA - With the onset of the rainy
season that promotes the
growth of wild mushrooms, State Health Director Diana M. Bontá,
Dr.P.H., today reminded consumers about the dangers of eating wild
"Wild mushrooms should not be eaten unless they
have been carefully
examined and determined edible by a recognized mushroom expert because
some poisonous mushrooms look the same as non-poisonous mushrooms,"
During the past decade, in California, at least
two deaths, multiple
hospitalizations and an unknown number of gastrointestinal illnesses
have been attributed to the consumption of wild mushrooms. During the
winter of 1996-97, Northern California reported two deaths attributed
to Amanita phalloides, also known as the "death-cap" mushroom. This
mushroom grows in some regions of California year-round, but is most
commonly found during the rainy fall and winter months.
"Mushroom collectors sometimes overestimate their
distinguish deadly mushrooms from edible mushrooms, with potentially
tragic results," Bontá said. "Individuals who refer to mushroom
guidebooks or have families who have collected mushrooms for many years
in their native countries may mistakenly believe that they can
distinguish the deadly mushroom found in the Western United States from
Eating poisonous mushrooms can cause abdominal
vomiting, diarrhea, liver damage and death. Abdominal symptoms are
usually delayed six to 12 hours, so victims may not initially connect
their symptoms to the wild mushrooms. As the initial gastrointestinal
symptoms subside, evidence of liver damage appears and some victims may
require a liver transplant to survive.
Individuals who develop any of these symptoms
after eating wild
mushrooms should immediately contact the California Poison Control
System at 1-800-8-POISON (1-800-876-4766) and seek medical attention.
CDHS Press Release, 03-78, November 3, 2003
Industry Task Force II on 2,4-D is Highlighting Results from Two Studies
Studies published recently in peer review
journals and conducted by researchers at the U.S. National Cancer
Institute, show 2,4-D does not present a cancer risk to farmers and
pesticide applicators. The first study is an analysis of three earlier
ones, conducted in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota in the 1980s
and 1990s, which linked the chemical to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
According to the study, which was published in the Journal of
Occupational Environmental Medicine, an analysis of the pooled data
shows no association between the two. The second report focuses on the
ongoing Agricultural Health Study, which is examining the health of
55,332 male pesticide applicators. According to the second study’s
results, the cancer incidence for participants is significantly lower
than that of the general population. The researchers also found no
connection between 2,4-D use and prostate cancer. The second study was
published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. (Pesticide
Toxic Chemical News, Vol. 31, No. 50, October 6, 2003)
REF: Pesticide Reports, November 2003
EPA Update on Creosote
EPA is announcing the results of its preliminary assessment of
potential health risks, as well as ecological effects and environmental
risks, associated with creosote. The assessment includes an evaluation
of the potential risks to handlers and post-application workers from
exposure to creosote. Creosote is a possible human carcinogen and has
no registered residential uses. It is primarily used on utility poles
and railroad ties. It is important to note that since this draft risk
assessment is in the public review and comment phase, its findings are
preliminary in nature and are subject to additional analysis. It is,
therefore, premature for EPA to reach conclusions about the potential
for creosote-treated wood products to contribute to cancer risk in
workers and handlers of this wood. EPA must receive comments,
identified by Docket Number OPP-2003-0248, by February 3, 2004. The
full preliminary assessment is available for public inspection in EPA's Docket
Federal Register Notice can be found at www.epa.gov/fedrgstr
EPA Press Release, December 5, 2003
Coils or Mini-Toxic Fires?
examined the potential threat to public health from foreign-made
mosquito coils. In
the first study, researchers characterized emissions from four common
brands of mosquito coils from China
and two common brands from Malaysia. The coils contained pyrethrins
ranging from 0.3 to 0.4 percent. The
insecticide is mixed with combustible materials that have the ability
to smolder without flame. It was
determined that these materials emitted as much particulate matter (2.5
microns) as 75 to 137 cigarettes per coil, and that polycyclic aromatic
hydrocarbons and benzene were present in the smoke. When coupled with the
concept that a house might be closed to keep mosquito biting down, a
room with a burning or burnt coil could
lead to high acute exposure.
the second study,
researchers focused on measuring the insecticide
octachlorodipropyl ether (S-2) in mosquito coils collected in
Asian markets in Southern California (being sold illegally). Coils
S-2 have been linked to emissions of bis(chloromethyl)ether (BCME), a
lung carcinogen formed by combustion of S-2. Of the 16 coils tested,
ten were found to contain S-2, and none
of them listed it on the label. (Pesticide &
Toxic Chemical News,
REF: Chemically Speaking, October 2003.
New Safety Leaflets Available
The California Department of
Pesticide Regulation Worker Health and Safety Branch has revised their
Pesticide Safety Information Series (PSIS) leaflets primarily as a
training aid for employees. California regulations require these
documents to be part of pesticide handler and field worker training.
The leaflets are
easier to read, and they help workers and
employers handle pesticides properly. English and Spanish versions are
available at www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/whs/psi2menu.htm
FDA Issues Guidance
Evaluating the Safety of
Antimicrobial New Animal Drugs to Help Prevent
Creating New Resistant Bacteria
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a new guidance document
that for the first time outlines a comprehensive evidence-based
approach to preventing antimicrobial resistance that may result from
the use of antimicrobial drugs in animals.
Antimicrobial drugs, such as antibiotics, are medicines often used to
treat bacterial infections in both humans and animals. Their use has
been one of the great advances in modern medicine – helping to prevent
many of the leading causes of death for most of human history.
Regardless of why bacteria develop resistance to
antimicrobials, when bacteria do develop such resistance, human and
animal health is at risk because the medicines that we depend on to
treat infections become ineffective. There are several important
sources of this problem, including inappropriate use of antibiotics in
people, that have been the subject of many public health initiatives by
the Department of Health and Human Services and other organizations.
The guidance released today by FDA is, however, the first that
addresses, in a comprehensive manner, the issue of the use of
antimicrobials in food producing animals as a contributing factor to
the development of antimicrobial resistance.
The guidance provides a scientific process for
assessing the likelihood that an antimicrobial drug used to treat an
animal may cause an antimicrobial resistance problem in humans
consuming meat or other byproducts from that animal. This process can
help prevent antimicrobial drugs with a high risk of causing such
problems from being improperly used in food producing animals, and
thereby potentially leading to antimicrobial resistance in humans.
The new guidance encourages drug sponsors to use
a risk assessment process to demonstrate that an antimicrobial drug
used to treat food-producing animals will not create a risk of
antimicrobial resistant bacteria likely to lead to human health
The document, Guidance for Industry (GFI) #152
("Evaluating the Safety of Antimicrobial New Animal Drugs with Regard
to their Microbiological Effects on Bacteria of Human Health Concern"),
is not a regulation. Instead it explains a science-based process drug
sponsors may use when they seek approval of an antimicrobial for use in
Sponsors may still use other methods to establish
drug safety for these uses, as long as these methods comply with
statutory and regulatory requirements. In general, written guidance
helps sponsors understand FDA’s process of evaluating whether a
proposed product for approval can be used safely and effectively, in
this case with respect to risks of creating antimicrobial resistance.
"Resistance to the antimicrobial drugs needed to
treat human illnesses is a serious public health threat, and we intend
to use the best science-based methods to prevent it,” said FDA
Commissioner Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D. “There are many factors
contributing to the development of resistant bacteria. Attacking the
problem on all fronts, including the appropriate use of antimicrobial
drugs in veterinary medicine, is the best way to protect the health of
the public. It’s also the best way to promote the safe use of
antimicrobials to protect the health of animals, including
food-producing animals.” Stephen Sundlof, D.V.M., Ph.D., Director of
FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, added, "This guidance uses
science to develop a risk-based approach to the issue of antimicrobial
resistance. It permits us to help protect human health while giving
veterinarians and livestock producers the tools they need to treat
The pathway suggested in the guidance document
establishes a three-part system for determining an antimicrobial drug’s
potential risk to humans if used to treat food-producing animals. The
system’s three parts are these:
- Part One is the “release assessment” which
determines the probability that resistant bacteria will be present in
animals as a result of the use of the antimicrobial new drug.
- Part Two is the “exposure estimate” which gauges
the likelihood that humans would ingest the resistant bacteria.
- Part Three is the “consequence assessment“ which
assesses the chances that human exposure to the resistant bacteria
would result in adverse human health consequences. In this context,
these are situations in which a physician has difficulty treating a
person with an antimicrobial drug because the bacteria infecting the
person had acquired resistance to the drug and that resistance came
from use of the drug in animals.
Under this system, all of these assessment
processes are considered and integrated to determine the overall level
of human health risk from resistant bacteria associated with an
antimicrobial drug’s use in animals.
If the assessments showed that the risks were
significant, FDA could deny the application for marketing
authorization, thus preventing the use of the drug in food animals, or
FDA could approve the drug, but place conditions on its use designed to
ensure it would not pose a human health risk.
More information is available online at www.fda.gov/oc/antimicrobial/questions.html.
REF: FDA News Release, P03-85, October 23, 2003
of Veterinary Drugs On-line Database
Residues of Veterinary Drugs On-line Database FAO
Food and Nutrition Paper 41 (Residues of veterinary drugs in animals
and foods) is now accessible through an on-line database that contains
information on veterinary drugs and their residues in foods as they
have been adopted and proposed by JECFA. The database is searchable by
substances or functional classes of drugs. Veterinary drugs can also be
searched according to their status of evaluation (e.g. no ADI
allocated, temporary MRL). The database is accessible from: www.fao.org/es/esn/jecfa/archive_en.stm
REF: Food Safety and Quality Update, Issue No 10,