Facts about Pesticides on Kauai – Good and Boring

The joint fact finding group looking for evidence of harmful effects from pesticides used by large farms on Kauai gave a presentation in Lihue on Monday evening, which drew a sparse-to-moderate attendance and was a very mild affair. Perhaps this was because the facts had already been published in their draft report, and the finding of no significant impact is just not exciting enough to get folks out to hear it repeated in person. Science came through and made the whole affair good and boring.

JFF Fact Finding Presentation

The long winded draft report, patched together in a classic committee style that would even make university faculty envious, found no evidence of harm to people or the environment. As boring as this is, perhaps the quietest moment of the meeting came with the announcement that results were in from the Kauai Department of Water regarding tests for the much maligned insecticide chlorpyrifos – it was not detected in any of the samples from the four water sources tested, even with a detection limit of 0.05 parts per billion. Good, even great, but pretty boring, apparently, given the lack of cheering, applause and fist pumps.

And it got even more boring, as all 340 sample analyses of legacy and current pesticides and other chemicals in EPA’s protocol for determining organic compounds in drinking water were negative for the 85 listed compounds. Kauai’s drinking water is apparently quite safe. But not headline news.

Chlorine Maui County

One overlooked (but still boring) fact from the report is that agriculture on Kauai uses less than 25% of the restricted use pesticides sold there. Some 75% is used for fumigation of buildings and homes, and for disinfection of drinking water and wastewater. Exposure to any residues from structural fumigation for most folks would occur quite infrequently.  Drinking water treated with chlorine and related products, however, is likely the most ubiquitous and frequent exposure to restricted use pesticides for the majority of people on Kauai, the state and in the nation, and chlorine is probably the only RUP that we intentionally swallow on a daily basis. While chlorination is not completely without risks, it is a lot more boring and much less risky than having nasty microbes in your water.

Boring really is good. It can help guide us to focus our energies on other real challenges that require creative solutions. However, if you are tired of all this and need to be excited again, do a search using the terms water chlorination Mercola and dive in. Bottoms up!

3 comments on “Facts about Pesticides on Kauai – Good and Boring

  1. What a fantastic post…humorous and so true.
    Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. For reasons I won’t get into, I cannot comment on the so-called Kauai pesticide report, although the scenario with the DWS revealing zero environmental presence (“there is no there there”) renders the entire exercise straight out of Samuel Becket’s Waiting For Godot. Or, to paraphrase Shakespeare on pesticide witch hunters in memory of his death’s quadricentennial (if perhaps, as with Kauai residents, evidently not from ingesting chlorpyrifos), methinks they doth protest too much.

    To your point about Kauai drinking water, here is a true story. At a farming forum I attended on Kauai a few years ago, one commingling conventional and organic farmers (“can’t we all get along?”), it was revealed to participants that Kauai County’s potable water supply–the one that Kauai pesticide witch hunters drink but, evidently, don’t see the need to test–does NOT qualify under USDA food safety guidelines for washing harvested produce to be marketed. The organic farmers in attendance, particularly those who, shall we say, have certain issues related to the use of manure, complained bitterly about the cost of the filtration systems necessary for them to be in regulatory compliance, since use of Kauai County water ISN’T. Ew.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Paul. Yes, the evidence is abundant that food and water safety is almost entirely about microbial risks, not pesticide risks.From my travels in Africa and Asia many years ago, I quickly learned that not getting sick meant bottled, treated water and not eating fresh anything that touched the soil unless I knew it was peeled, washed and boiled, roasted or fried. In many places manure was the predominant fertilizer, and its proper management for elimination of pathogens was not always rigorous. As a result, when I see an organic label on produce I see a warning label reminding me the source of nitrogen fertilizer was likely manure. (The voluntary label system works for me.)


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