Tag Archives: Health

How much Aflatoxin can our beef and poultry handle in these stormy times? Senator weighs in.

1 Dec

The laws of supply and demand dictate that scarcity drives prices up. Corn and other feed grains are moldier than usual due to unusually stormy weather, making quality corn more scarce on the market, thereby driving corn prices up. The price of corn is also rising because of the increasing demand for corn ethanol fuel, a renewable, cleaner burning gasoline additive,., and because of a severe recent drought in the US midwest. Meat animals no longer bring in enough money to pay for their traditional, corn-based feed, so farmers and ranchers are reportedly sacrificing their herds to make ends meet.
Senator Roberts has a solution to this problem. Why not ease up on the regulations about feed grain quality? Why not  feed livestock a mix of moldy grain and quality grain, a mix that is designed to reach, but not exceed, the Food and Drug Administration’s maximum Aflatoxin concentration? After all, we have plenty of moldy grain this year, and plenty of hungry livestock. He understands that dairy cows should be given less aflatoxin than other types of livestock, and this should be considered when giving out aflatoxin waivers. More feed means lower feed prices and possibly more ranchers able to stay in business this year.

What are the risks to poultry, beef cattle, dairy cattle and consumers of overexposure to Aflatoxin? For poultry, aflatoxin reduces weight gain. For dairy cattle, aflatoxin has minimal effects on the cows but goes directly into the milk supply, putting human consumers at risk.


How much is too much aflatoxin in feed grain, according to the FDA? No harm comes to animals consuming 20 parts per billion of aflatoxin, but it is legal to use feed with up to 300 parts per billion of aflatoxin. The difference is due to the fact that resulting meat or poultry meets FDA standards for aflatoxin levels in consumer products. The compliance policy guidelines can be found here.

What about other types of fungal toxins? Why did Senator Roberts not mention Fumonisin, a more potent fungal toxin on corn and other feed grains? The FDA compliance policy guidelines on food and feed levels for this toxin are available here.

Since more aflatoxin-contaminated feed  will be on the market instead of being tilled under, will this result in increased risks of direct human consumption?

If Senator Roberts’ idea is adopted, for how long will the mixed grain waivers be available?  What if this decision were made permanent? Would long-term low-level exposure to these fungal toxins decrease our animal product yield and increase our long-term exposure to these dangerous fungal toxins?

You can email Senator Roberts, or write your own senator, if you have an opinion about his proposed solution to this critical feed shortage.



Enviroblog: Our old bones release lead into our bloodstreams–a delayed hazard of leaded gas

18 Nov
Inner beauty

Bone density scan (Photo credit: kightp)

Seniors worry about decreasing bone density because of increased risks of fractures. A new study suggests that as bones dissolve, they release old lead deposits along with calcium, leading to delayed lead exposure as well.


Enviroblog: A new target for deadly lead?.

Advice for pesticide handlers and survivalists: Do not overestimate the power of a gas mask!

19 Aug
English: S10 Gas Mask Respirator Avon

English: S10 Gas Mask Respirator Avon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In studying the laws and regulations for pest control in the state of California, I came across a shocking pamphlet that made me worry for the safety of all those workers that have to spray volatile chemicals for a living, and even all those hairy mountain men that stockpile canned goods, weapons and, yes, gas masks, for the end of days. As a blogger, I am not encouraging or opposing this idea, but buying gas masks on line that are not fitted to your face and don’t accommodate any facial hair (if you have any), gives a person a false sense of security in the face of chemical exposure, so READ ON:

•If you have a beard, a bushy mustache,or long sideburns, a regular respirator won’t protect you because the mustache, beard or sideburns keep it from making a tight seal on your face. You need to use a special respirator.
•If your foreman doesn’t have one of these special respirators, you cannot do the work.”Excerpted from California Department of Pesticide Regulation‘s publication PSIS A-5.

For the rest of us who may be required to apply pesticides in the course of their employment, we may feel that well fitted gas masks provide complete protection against inhalation of fumes. Well, if that is what you have come to believe, keep in mind that one of the ways employers know when to change a filter is when YOU report an unusual smell or taste. READ ON.

Most respirators do not really clean the air.What they do is stop most harmful chemicals from getting into your lungs. They dothis with special filters. But these filters stop working after a while. Then the pesticide will pass through and you will breathe it in. If you notice a smell or taste, if your eyes or throat burn, or if it gets hard for you to breathe, leave the area RIGHT AWAY. Go to a safe area that contains nopesticides. Then take off your respirator and look at it carefully. Is it torn or worn out? If there are no cracks or other problems you can see, you may need to change the filter.
Because many pesticides do not have a smell or cause irritation, your employer must replace the filter often.
•when directions on the pesticide label say so, or
•when the respirator maker says it should be replaced, or
•when you first notice smell, taste or irritation, or
•at the end of each workday.
Follow the rule that replaces the filter soonest.
REMEMBER: Respirators only protect you from breathing chemicals. Most of the time when pesticides are used, protecting your skin is also important.”

Excerpted from California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s publication PSIS A-5.

Employers are required to provide complete information about the chemicals that you may be applying and their effects on you and the environment, and they are required as well to provide working, fitted protective equipment, including gas masks for volatile chemicals. If these excerpts frighten you or make you angry, read the fine print on the bottle,  ask questions, and don’t work with a chemical until you understand the risks–find your employer’s Material Safety Data Sheets for the chemicals that you apply and READ ON!!!

New food ingredient-interesterified oil. What is it and why should we be concerned?

4 Apr


Well-Water Consumption and Parkinson’s Disease in Rural California.

4 Mar

Why are there no pesticide well water standards? I have spoken to landowners who would rather not have their well water tested for fear that their property values will go down. Aquifers are connected.

Gatto NM, Cockburn M, Bronstein J, Manthripragada AD, Ritz B, 2009 Well-Water Consumption and Parkinson’s Disease in Rural California. Environ Health Perspect 117(12): doi:10.1289/ehp.0900852