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Meeting set tonight on pesticide drift study

Pesticide Drift Catcher results are in and pesticides have been detected in the air of the White Earth Reservation village of Pine Point. The levels of detection and what it means for residents of the Pine Point community will be discussed at a p...

Pesticide Drift Catcher results are in and pesticides have been detected in the air of the White Earth Reservation village of Pine Point.

The levels of detection and what it means for residents of the Pine Point community will be discussed at a public meeting at 6 tonight (Wednesday) at the new Pine Point School.

The two pesticides of primary concern are pendamethalin and chlorothalonil. These pesticides were found in the air samples taken by pesticide Drift Catchers installed in Pine Point in May, according to Robert Shimek, special projects coordinator for the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN).

Chlorothalonil is a fungicide, commonly known as Bravo and Daconil. According to Shimek, when ingested, it is known to cause kidney and liver damage, mild anemia, embryo loss and oxidative DNA damage. It is a known human carcinogen, Shimek said.

"While it is known the chlorothalonil is more dangerous when inhaled, the health effects of repeated inhalation exposure are not understood," he said. It is highly toxic to fish, amphibians and crustaceans.

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Chlorothalonil is sometimes contaminated with hexachlorobenzene that breaks down to a product that is 30 times more toxic than the chlorothalonil by itself, Shimek said.

Pendamethalin is an herbicide; its common brand name is Prowl. It is considered to have low toxicity and may affect human thyroid function, according to Shimek. It is moderately toxic to crustaceans and fish.

This year Drift Catcher samples were not analyzed for 2-4-D, glyphosate, triclopyr and other pesticides.

Children and fetuses are the most vulnerable to pesticide exposure.

Last spring, the White Earth Pesticide Action Network (WEPAN) was formed to place two pesticide "drift catchers" in Pine Point, one at the Pine Point Elementary School and one at Karen Bellanger's home in Rockville.

WEPAN includes the IEN, White Earth Land Recovery Project (WELRP), The White Earth Tribal Pesticide Program, Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA) and the Environmental Association for Great Lakes Education (EAGLE).

The Drift Catchers are designed to capture pesticide residue that is blowing into the Pine Point community from adjacent farm fields. Since mid-May, WELRP staff have been collecting the sampling cartridges and sending them to a laboratory for analysis.

"The results are now in and while these results do not surpass any EPA exposure levels for single day doses," Shimek said, "there is still concern about human health effects and what is not fully understood about these agricultural chemicals."

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The state of California's review of the toxicity of chlorothalonil identified about a dozen inhalation studies, and in each study groups of rats were dosed at several different levels, and signs of toxicity were observed at every dose level of every study. "The uncertainty is the human health effects of long-term inhalation exposure," Shimek explained.

Staff from WELRP, IEN, PANNA and EAGLE will be present at the public meeting in Pine Point to present the findings and discuss the implications of pesticide exposure with the community.

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