Sunday, December 18, 2011

King Tides

The threat of future rising tides is a reality.  This current article in the Times Colonist outlines the potential scenario.

Rolling in the deep: King tide offers vision of 2050 world

Coastal residents can take a peek into the future next week as biannual high tides give us an idea of what may become our normal sea level.
The king tide, the biannual alignment of the sun and moon that creates especially high tides, begins Thursday in Victoria and will continue through Saturday.
"I would encourage everybody to go have a look and see what our world might look like in 40 years," said Roy Brooke, Victoria's director of sustainability.
"I think the higher water is one element, but when you go down there on the 22nd and you see the higher water, you then also have to imagine that higher water combined with a wind storm or wave or a storm surge in the middle of winter. Then you really start to see the reality of what our world might look like in Victoria."
The king tides are not related to climate change. They are extreme high-tide events that occur when the gravitational forces of the sun and the moon reinforce one another when the moon is closest to Earth.
But experts say they demonstrate what the local seashore might look like after higher global temperatures have melted polar ice caps and increased sea levels worldwide.
Rising sea levels have the potential to have serious impacts on local infrastructure as more flooding becomes the norm.
"Practically, it means we could overwhelm some of our infrastructure capacity because it just wasn't built for this. It's built for a cooler world and it's built for a lower ocean," Brooke said. "So some of our lowlying areas could be at risk of flooding and erosion. A lot of our infrastructure in the city is already old and this is going to add an extra burden."
Oak Bay councillors were recently told the municipality will have to spend almost $1 million to combat erosion at McNeill Bay as a consultant's study predicted that it could be as little as 12 1 ?2 years before the water is lapping up within 1.5 metres of the sidewalk.
According to the provincial Ministry of Environment, global sea levels have risen about 20 centimetres over the past 100 years.
As a consequence of warming caused by greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere, sea levels are expected to keep rising.
Climate-change experts says the sea level on the B.C. coast could go up by one metre by 2100.
Three years ago, the provincial government launched the B.C. King Tide Photo Initiative, in which it asked people to shoot pictures of the shoreline at high tide and upload them directly to a website or send them via email.
The aim is to raise awareness and encourage people to think about how they could adapt to a changing environment.
Provincial Environment Minister Terry Lake said: "When you look at some parts of British Columbia, and Richmond is a very good example, where there's a lot of infrastructure, [they] could potentially be at risk if the sea levels begin to rise combined with these types of events and winter storms."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Submission to View Royal OCP review

Below is the executive summary of the Portage Inlet Protection Society submission to View Royal OCP review.  To view entire submission, click on "January 2011" in the Blog Archive sidebar.

A submission to the review of the View Royal Official Community Plan
by the Portage Inlet Protection Society
April, 2010

Executive summary
The Portage Inlet Protection Society has been invited, as a stakeholder group, to make a submission for inclusion in the OCP review. This paper is based where possible on best available science, is economically feasible, and promotes sustainable environmental principles
Studies are described which show that Portage Inlet generally has good water quality. Toxicological studies published in 2010 show that organochloride pesticides are likely of limited or no toxicological significance. There is no evidence that waterfront owners contribute any significant pollutants to the Inlet. However, fecal contaminants from watershed storm drains cause shellfish pollution, as do sewer overflows .
Topics discussed include: ecotones, buffers and setbacks in relationship to Development Permit Area (DPA) widths; exemptions to activities in DPAs; sea walls to protect from erosion; climate change and sea level rise; wharfs and docks; public access pathways; and riparian rights.
Recommendations conclude this paper.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cosmetic Pesticides

Special Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides

Submission by Dr. Doug Critchley 

Dec. 13th 2011

I, Dr. J. D. (Doug.) Critchley am a retired member in good standing of the British Columbia Medical Association and the BC. College of Physicians and Surgeons, both of which organizations I did, for more than ten years represent, in a quasi-judicial appointment by Orders in Council, to an Audit Committee of the BC Medical Plan, the purpose of which was to sit in judgement of my peers at hearings, weigh evidence, and write orders, with reasons, enforceable in Supreme Court. Testimony was largely based on statistics.

I am recognized as an expert witness in Supreme Court.

I am a former president of the Victoria Medical Society. I was Chief of Staff at Queen Alexandra Hospital for sick children.

I recently sat on the View Royal Sustainability Task Force, and the View Royal Official Community Plan (OCP) Steering Committee. I am Research Director to the Portage Inlet Protection Society (PIPS), an Non-Government Organization (NGO) of waterfront residents on Portage Inlet and the Gorge Waterway with a mission to protect the health of the waterway, shoreline, watersheds and property rights.


Canada, particularly British Columbia, and the Western United States have identified invasive species as a major threat to the environment. Oregon and BC are, increasingly, educating the public in the harm caused by invasive plants.

Environmental sustainability cannot be maintained without improved Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies that have been proven to be effective, cost effective, and permanent. Delay in the implementation increases the future financial costs to the electorate, as well as fails to mitigate against irreversible damage to native plants and biodiversity.

Established, emerging, and future invasive plants are considered. This report also investigates the subject of herbicides and their safety or perceived risks. The implications of reducing the use of herbicides and insecticides for ‘non-essential’ use are considered.

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Loss of biodiversity as a result of the invasion of parks and open spaces by invasive plants is secondary only to the loss of habitat as a result of urban expansion. The Federal Pest Control Products Act (PCPA) defines biodiversity: Biological Diversity means the variability among living organisms within an ecosystem of which they form a part and includes the diversity within and between species and of ecosystems.

Best Available Science

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is responsible for administering the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA) on behalf of the Minister of Health. The PCPA requires the Federal Government to determine that the health, safety and the environment of Canadians are protected using a ‘science based’ approach which must be effective for its intended purpose.
The PMRA reviews existing pesticides and now has a ‘fast track’ method for registering new reduced-risk pesticides. There is a Federal Provincial Territorial Committee and an International technical working group, in compliance under NAFTA, harmonizing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and World Health Organization. 
The US EPA updated July 1st 2009 lists twenty new pesticides specifically for turf and ornamentals in the last 10 years. There are 141 others. It is essential that these newer, less-toxic pesticides be substituted in British Columbia as soon as they become available. BC should consider listing these under ‘exempt pesticides’. The Province, for clarity, might avoid blanket-wording ‘pesticides’ and instead list separately herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, etc. Mr. Lindsay Hanson has already testified as to safety.

Precautionary Principle

On December 13th 1999, the Commissioner of the Federal Standing Committee on Environmental and Sustainable Development, speaking to ‘risk management’, stated, “the Precautionary Principle should not be used as an excuse not to do sound science." It is a fact that there are many opponents of the Precautionary Principle, recognizing it as the opposite of objective science, since it seeks to make policy not on the basis of objective facts but on exploitation of the public’s fears.

"PRINCIPLE 15" (Rio Declaration June 1992) states, "In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost effective measures to prevent environmental degradation."

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Canada has incorporated the above Principle 15 in the Canada Environmental Protection Act 1999, the Oceans Act, and the amended Pest Control Products Act and in other legislation. If the precautionary principle is to be used by the Special Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides, then, for clarity, it should use the precise wording of the 1992 definition.

Representing the National Round Table on the Environment and Economy, on which sat Johanne Gelinas giving evidence before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health (#077), 1st session, 37th Parliament, Wednesday May 8th 2002, Ms Gelinas stated: “Madam Chair, given that a clear and firm commitment in this regard (Rio Convention Precautionary Principle) is set out in various federal government documents, I do not see why it could not be included in the preamble of all new Canadian legislation dealing with environmental and sustainable development issues”.

Invasive Species

Invasive species are secondary only to land use in destruction of native habitat and have become a major threat to Canada’s economy and to biodiversity. The Greater Vancouver Invasive Plant Council (GVIPC) version 1, updated 12/09, lists 19 established invasive plants. These are so widespread, causing great impact on natural areas, that eradication is unlikely. Management is focused on reducing their impact at key sites and controlling further spread. Many of these have invaded Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland; e.g. Canada Thistle, Morning Glory, English Hawthorn, Scotch Broom, English Ivy, Holly, Lamium, Creeping Buttercup, Himalayan Blackberry. GVIPC list 25 emerging invasive plants found in isolated sparse populations but are rapidly expanding their range. Management is aimed at containing or eliminating populations and minimizing spread to new areas. Early detection can lead to successful eradication. Finally GVIPC lists 8 future invasive plants for which monitoring is important, including Garlic Mustard, Flowering Rush, Carpet Burweed, Spartina Densiflora and Spartina Patens.

Integrated Pest Management Strategies are well known. Much has been learned over the past ten years and I refer to the ‘Pest management Plan (PMP) for Invasive Plants and/or Noxious Weed Control on provincial Crown Lands for South Coastal BC March 2009 pages 19-25’. Table 4 lists sixty current coastal priority invasive plant species. Spot application of preferred herbicides including glyphosate , triclopyr or aminopyralid. “Costs are significantly lower than other treatment methods. It is unlikely that manual, mechanical, or cultural techniques alone will be effective . . . to reduce the spread of invasive plants”. It goes on to say “the degradation of habitat as a result of invasive plant infestation may exceed degradation resulting from the use of specific herbicides”.

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The BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries and Open Learning Agency in their publication “Seven Steps to Managing your Weeds” (step 5 page 29) provides good tables outlining the advantages and limitations of the six commonest strategies.

The Invasive Plant Pest Management Plan Southern Interior, based on field trials by the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, continually updates “Herbicide Application Rates” and “Preferred Target Species”. (See Table 5 p19).

The University of Oregon publishes the “Pacific North West Weed Management Handbook”; about 450 pages updated every year. One section includes the susceptibility of about 30 broadleaf weeds in turf to six herbicides or mixtures. 

San Francisco Marin County Water District, with a climate similar to that projected for Victoria, as a result of climate change, suspended herbicide use in 2005. By 2007 they have been losing the battle against invasive plants (Broom etc.) and now have a critical fire threat, reduced biodiversity and limited habitat for shelter of birds and animals. 1,000 acres are seriously infested and spreading quickly at a rate of 60 acres/year (6%). Mechanical mowing, hand removal, controlled burning, propane flaming are currently failing. Also goat grazing, soap-based heat foam, biological control, and ‘alternative’ non-toxic herbicides all have been proven to be limited in their effectiveness. At a public meeting to address the problem the Project Manager stated re chemicals: “It is cost effective. They kill weeds relatively cheaply. If herbicides cannot be used for Broom management the budget increase will be colossal. The cost of Broom management per acre with a combination of mowing and herbicides would be 24 man-hours of work. The same end without herbicides would cost 300-500 man-hours.” cgi/ Since March 2007, further analysis of Vegetation Management and Herbicides has continued.

In Victoria many parks and public areas are exposed to threats of serious or irreversible damage to native plants and biodiversity. Some public areas have undergone environmental degradation following invasion by Broom, English Ivy, Himalayan Blackberry and other invasive species. These threats are serious and/or irreversible. In observing the Precautionary Principle, cost- effective measures should not be postponed. Delay will increase degradation and future costs will escalate. In some areas it may already be too late. Garry Oak ecosystems require herbicides and a commercial plastic mulch which provides 100% efficacy according to Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team (GOERT) after Raj Prasad, et al. 2008.

There are serious and real implications to banning pesticide use, both on public and private land. Residents are faced with the same labour intensive realities and costs (as Marin County above) in controlling invasive plants. Furthermore, the same gardens are the source of present and most future infestations. Plants invade the ecosystems by escaping from gardens, e.g.Yellow Lamium and English Ivy, from hanging baskets, or ground covers like Periwinkle.

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Instead of a sweeping ban, the Provincial Government should provide education on pesticide use, either through garden centers or municipal parks personnel. That person should be available to the public and able to supply simple advice and/or pamphlets to residents describing the proper use of every permitted pesticide specific to each geographical location across the Province. Such pamphlets must have an “expiry date.” Newer information may contain corrections, revised methods of application or offer newer, less-toxic choices. For instance,

a) advice on the use of non-ionizing surfactants in water as an adjuvant (additive) to the herbicide under consideration, or
b) advice on use in wind, 
c) droplet size, 
d) rain, 
e) timing
f) strength of wick application for translocating herbicides etc., 
g) specific advice on the most effective way to eradicate specific plants from home parcels, such as Broom, English Ivy, Blackberry, Japanese 
Knotweed, Giant Hogweed etc., 
h) provision of a list of the most common and severe invaders, 
i) important advice to avoid exposure to chemicals during pregnancy etc., 
j) use of protective clothing and laundry instructions, 
k) simple advice to wear protective gloves, 
l) the correct mixing to avoid spills, 
m) removal of treated dead weeds from water to prevent eutrification, 
n) special advice for riparian areas if indicated.


The public is concerned about cancer being linked to or correlated with chemicals in the environment. Correlation does not mean causation. In 2002 a retrospective study (by Ma, et al.) performed in northern California linked childhood leukaemia, to exposure in utero and up to 2-3 years of age, with insecticides used (probably by professional applicators) inside the home. The association between herbicides and leukaemia was weak and non-significant. 
Dr Valkil told the committee of “the importance of protecting pregnant women from household ‘and garden’ use of pesticides.” Considering that cosmetic pesticides are crucial to your mandate it is inexcusable for her to seriously misrepresent the Ma findings by altering the author’s statement by adding the words ‘and garden’. The Ma report, which Dr. Valkil quotes, states the absolute opposite: no significant association was observed for exposure to outdoor pesticides”.

Dr. Valkil is a member of the Board of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). CAPE has a membership of 5,200, not all of whom are physicians. The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) numbers 70,000 physicians in the Country.

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CAPE represents only 7.5% of that number. Dr. Valkil does not speak for this writer, or for the 65,000 majority of physicians. I have brought to your Committee’s attention the real facts of this matter and I further suggest that no weight be given to any of her testimony.

The Ma report provides an Odds Ratio (OR) of 2.1 or less which is a very small increase in risk as childhood leukemia is relatively rare. (See more on OR below.) The Ma study is criticized by peer reviewers as being retrospective, lacking measurements of both amounts and frequency of pesticide exposure. There was alleged “recall bias”. Families of leukemia victims might recall pesticide use better than healthy families who had less reason to remember whether they had been exposed to pesticides (in some cases up to 13 years prior). Other household chemical exposures during pregnancy might include paints, glues, solvents, and cigarette smoke. Interior use of pesticides includes insecticides, fungicides and rodenticides.
In follow up, a systematic review and meta-analysis (15 studies) by Turner M.C., et al, University of Ottawa, agreed with Ma’s figures. Exposure during childhood showed a link to insecticides (OR 1.61) but there was no association with herbicides.

In Kansas, Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) has been linked to farm herbicide use (OR 1.6), greater for number of days per year; over 20 days per year (OR 6.0). However residential exposure showed no increase in risk with herbicides. Also the OR was not statistically significant for NHL in farmer’s home use of insecticides (termites). The “Cosmetic Pesticides” Committee should exclude evidence from industrial strength pesticide preparations as these are not available to the public.

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) which is a volunteer group and not science based has sided with activists and promulgated the fear of pesticide links to childhood leukemia, NHL, childhood brain cancer, prostate and lung cancers. None of these are causal links. The CCS in stating “children are closer to the ground” is implying a risk. Mr. Lindsay Hanson has already informed you that there is no risk for children playing on lawns or eating herbicide-sprayed grass. The Committee's decisions should be based on science rather than the opinions of activists. The CCS must not be confused with the BC Cancer Agency (BCCA).

When studying cancer-related literature the experts to be cited for pesticides should be epidemiologists and toxicologists, rather than spokespersons from other disciplines. Health Canada remains up to date and should be used as the primary resource by the Province.

Odds Ratio (OR)
Odds Ratio is not the same as Risk but never-the-less it is a common way of describing the chance of a certain outcome. So, if the relative risk of developing childhood leukemia statistically is 4.3/100,000 then, if the OR from insecticide exposure is 2.0 or doubled,

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the risk is still very low. The incidence of lung cancer is high, with a relative risk of 60-70/100,000. So, with an OR of 40.4, smokers will increase their risk to 2,400-2,800/100,000; a good reason to stop smoking. Other common cancers are breast 124/100,000 and prostate 175/100,000. Statistically the increase in risk from a negative behaviour becomes higher when the disease is commoner. Odds ratios are most accurate when the OR is 1.0 and are still accurate up to about 20 but deviate above that. Biostatisticians need absolute figures when measuring results so that comparisons between treatments can be made. When it comes to making recommendations, ORs are adequate for the Committee’s purpose provided they are unequivocal.


Of a total of 4,700,000 Kg of pesticides sold in BC, 73% are wood preservatives; only 6% are herbicides (286,423 Kg). The Capital Regional District (CRD) share in 1995 was 5.5% (15,750 Kg). It is stated on the CRD web-site that only 1.6% of herbicides are used domestically (252 Kg).

The two herbicides, most-commonly used residentially (88%), are 2,4-D and glyphosate .

Health Canada PMRA in May 2008 concluded its re-evaluation of 2,4-D as safe to use according to label directions. In 2007 the U.S. EPA determined that “existing data do not support a conclusion that links human cancer to 2,4-D.” The PMRA uses a factor of 10x10x10 = 1,000 times the safe exposure figure in children in order to reduce the risk to infants and children. As you know, this summer, following the settlement of a lawsuit by Dow Agro, the Government of Quebec announced that “2,4-D does not pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment”. Ontario’s environmental commissioner agrees “there was no science to justify the ban”.

Of glyphosate the EPA stated “there is no evidence of carcinogenic potential”. Glyphosate (Roundup) pesticide tolerances, EPA Federal Register Sept 27, 2002 (Vol.67, #188), pages 60934-60950, last updated Friday Oct.30th 2009, considered safety, cumulative effects, aggregate risks, synergy, mode of action, and states “based on these risk assessments, the EPA concludes there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to the general population, and to infants and children from aggregate exposure to glyphosate residues. In making this statement the EPA considered the Precautionary Principle.

The Committee needs to decide which group to believe: i.e., Federal scientific experts, or activists.

Millions of public dollars have been provided to environmental activists in collaboration with scientists, to fund three current very large studies in the Eastern United States, in an effort to show causality between breast cancer and exposure to chemicals, including   

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gasoline, pesticides, detergents, plastics, flame retardant, personal care products, air and water pollution, grilled and smoked foods, tobacco smoke, vehicle exhaust, and fossil fuel burning. One of the studies in Cape Cod, where breast cancer is double the national figure shows no consistent association between breast cancer and pesticides.  Wasteful, expensive studies of DDT, which was used extensively in the ‘60s, are being performed, despite the fact that DDT has been banned for 40 years so that there can be no retrospective mitigation.

Problems with pesticide research results

Cancer Research UK states of pesticides “the evidence is not strong enough to give clear answers. Studies usually involve small numbers of people making it more likely the results are due to chance. The results from different studies are not constant and replicated etc.”

The BCCA states “environmental studies have produced controversial results,” and “individual single isolated investigations cannot produce the large numbers required for statistical results compared with large world-wide projects”. Studies need to include environmental exposure, life- style and individual gene make-up. This requires epidemiologists, bio-statisticians and population geneticists combined. To settle the environmental controversy a new BC Generations Project has commenced. It will be a prospective study with 40,000 volunteers from BC and 300,000 from Canada. It is part of a Canadian cohort International Trans-disciplinary approach. A separate task force is measuring potential carcinogenic chemicals.

Cosmetic versus function of lawns

When it comes to banning cosmetic use of herbicides on lawns, by most recent figures only 252 Kg of herbicide are used domestically in the CRD which amounts to 0.2 ounces per single family dwelling per year. Other geographical areas of the Province could be quite different. Compared to exposure from wood preservatives and agriculture, this CRD amount is of such low magnitude that it seems impossible that there could be anything to gain from a ban. Turf density can be maximized by mowing height (relates to type of grass), proper irrigation (too much or too little are both bad), correct fertilization, and selective removal of thatch in excess of 0.75-1.0”. A well-maintained lawn (see Health Canada lawn care directions) has many benefits including cooling (the front lawns of 8 homes have the cooling effect of 70 tons of A/C, enough to cool 16 homes). Lawns absorb rainfall. A Penn State University study showed that a thick lawn slows run-off and allows water to infiltrate 15 times better than a patchy lawn with a lot of weeds. Water detention is an important environmental function as it holds pollutants such as nitrates. Nitrates, throughout a watershed, undergo denitrification by microbes associated with grass roots, thereby reducing the nitrogen entering estuaries and rivers.

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Excess nitrate causes algal bloom (JoAnne Burkholder et al. 2007) and compromises estuarine ecosystems including fish and waterfowl. Monitoring of coastal seagrass abundance is performed worldwide by seagrass. Net http://seagrass.Net/ (114 sites in 32 countries). In addition to denitrification, lush lawns trap silts and adsorbs chemicals and metals, preventing those pollutants from entering storm drains and watercourses. Selective weed killers enhance these functions by destroying invasive weeds like black Medicus that can take over in two seasons.

Golf greens need special consideration because West Coast Fusarium Patch, which responds only to fungicides, damages them in 24 hours. Greens need to be “perfect” to attract the tourist dollar which could otherwise be spent outside British Columbia. Crane Fly larvae, also, need insecticide control.


1) There is no scientific evidence that cosmetic pesticides cause harm to humans so, unless that changes, there should be no bans.

2) Measures to enhance lush lawn functions should be encouraged on environmental grounds.

3) Golf courses should have a permanent extension to their present entitlement to use pesticides.

4) Invasive plants are damaging habitat and ecosystems. We are already seeing serious and irreversible harm. Cost-effective measures require ancillary herbicide use. Banning herbicides increases labour costs fifteen times (see page 5). Ranchland, green spaces, parks and residential lands require judicious use of herbicides to prevent and reverse habitat destruction. Some insecticides and fungicides are required when pest infestations are serious.

5) Public education on proper use of pesticides is preferable to blanket restrictions. Costs of education can be recouped by adding some form of “user tax”. If domestic pesticides are misused penalties can be applied.

6) Where crop economics are involved, adjacent garden use of pesticides should be mandatory at the interface with orchards, vineyards, etc. Consideration should be given to implement measures that would force owners of urban properties containing serious invasive plants to eradicate them.

7) People with inhalant allergies to plants or fungi should be exempt from restrictions.

8) Biodiversity should be considered in the Committee's deliberations. Red and blue listed native species need extraordinary protection.

Doug Critchley 
132 St. Giles Street
Victoria V8Z 5E5

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