Threats to Our Region


Irrigation crossing South Avenue 09.12

Do you want to keep surface and groundwater clean?
• Don’t dispose of or use chemicals on your land known to cause health problems for most life forms (see below for details).
• Tell the county not to spray herbicide along the road that abutts your property.
• Fix all fluid leaks on all your vehicles.
• Educate yourself about chemical toxins in the environment and engage others to learn more.
• Avoid the products of industrial agriculture–buy local organic foods as often as you can. Industrial agriculture is the largest single threat to biodiversity. Bees, bats, amphibians and other beneficial species are dying off, and their declines are linked to pesticide exposure.


Man-made chemicals found in human tissue samples now stands at 287, including bisphenol A, found in many plastics; triclosan, found in antibacterial soap; a dozen perfluorinated chemicals, such as PFOA used in the manufacture of nonstick cookware; and 29 volatile chemicals, such as the gasoline additive MTBE.

Our modern-day environment is loaded with man-made chemicals. We breath car exhaust, gasoline fumes and secondhand smoke, and we eat food laced with pesticides and plasticizers and cooked in pans with nonstick coatings.

We use cosmetics on our skin, cleaning products in our houses and lawn products in our yards. We decorate our homes and clothe our kids with flame-retardant fabrics. And we drink municipal water that contains traces of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals.

What’s the health fallout of this? In some cases, such as those for lead and mercury, the effects of environmental chemicals are clear. Not so much for others, such as bisphenol A and flame retardants. It’s difficult to link disease to chemical exposure, partly because of the uncertainty of just who is exposed, to how much and for how long.

To get at part of the puzzle, since 1999 the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been doing biomonitoring studies–sampling blood and urine from a broad swath of Americans to see what chemicals are regularly found in people.

“For the public, I think the basic point is just the understanding that chemicals in our environment do in fact actually get into your body,” says Dr. John Osterloh, the chief medical officer of the CDC’s division of laboratory sciences. – from Jill U Adams, LA Times

And if all these chemicals are in our bodies, they are certainly in our water. And they are in the bodies of every living organism.

Five great extinction events have reshaped earth in the past 439 million years, each wiping out between half and 95% of planetary life. The most recent was the killing off of dinosaurs. Today, we’re living through a sixth great cataclysm. Seven in ten biologists believe that mass extinction poses an even greater threat to humanity than the global warming which contributes to it.[i]

Amphibians were the first to start dying off – in 1998 scientists identified the cause as a type of fungus, with population declines showing a strong correlation to pesticide exposure. A few years later America’s honeybees started dying – populations have dropped by 29% – 36% each year since 2006. Bats are the most recent victims. In 2006 the first cave floors were found covered with dead bats in the Northeast. Some scientists believe that like amphibians, bats have become more susceptible to deadly disease (in this case, White Nose Syndrome) because their immune systems are weakened by pesticides. A growing body of evidence points towards pesticide exposure – even at so-called “safe levels” – as a key contributor to these and other problems for wildlife.[ii]

One of the most commonly used herbicides in the world is glyphosate. In the US, it is most often sold as Roundup. In Tehama County alone, 61,106 pounds of this was reported as used on over 50,000 acres in 2009.[iii] It is not just an herbicide, it is a biocide, killing many species of microbial life. Don Huber, a long-time USDA scientist and fan of cultivation agriculture has been studying this chemical for 20 years. Proponents of glyphosate say it is environmentally benign. Dr. Huber disagrees with that assessment: “Absolutely not. That’s an outright mistaken notion. Glyphosate is the single most important agronomic factor predisposing some plants to both disease and toxins. These toxins can produce a serious impact on the health of animals and humans.”

Listen to his words in the video below:

For more, see this link. If you watch longer videos of Dr. Huber, you will hear him say that glyphosate is more persistent than DDT. A recent small-scale study strongly implies the same thing, finding a high level of it in 3 out of 10 mothers’ breast milk. We recommend a complete ban on this chemical, and will do what we can to support anyone trying to get a ban on it in Tehama County.

A list of chemicals in common “health,” packaging and body care products known to cause severe harm to aquatic life forms and significant harm to us humans: parabens (methyl, propyl, butyl, ethyl), stearalkonium chloride (used in conditioners and creams), synthetic fragrances, phenoxyethanol, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol (PEG), DEA, TEA and MEA chemicals, sodium lauryl sulfate (often in toothpaste), and synthetic colors. Many of these are considered safe in the amounts per normal use. But what about their accumulation in soil and groundwater? Here at the Preserve, we do not bring any products with these chemicals onto the land, as we find this the simplest way to avoid indiscriminate killing of beneficial organisms.

Of course there are dozens and dozens of other chemicals to avoid, but the point of this web page is to alert readers of the topic, generally, and to encourage further self-education. Recommended sources beyond the links above:

Why we should avoid as many plastics as possible [Plastic fact: In the Los Angeles area alone, 20 tons of plastic fragments — like grocery bags, straws and soda bottles — are carried into the Pacific Ocean every day.[iv]

Non-toxic solutions to dozens of common pests

More on glyphosate

More from Don Huber (excellent)

GM Soy and Corn Cause Organ Abnormalities

Tehama County Rate of Pesticide Use in Forests among the Highest in the State