Epidemiological Study. This article highlights the aftermath of aerially spraying endosulfan, a toxic pesticide, in Kasaragod District of Kerala. Keshava Naik, a civil surgeon who has worked in Kasargod for almost 20 years, says that before 2000, the government was only offering treatment for the endosulfan-affected. When rumours about endosulfan emerged in the 1990s, Sreekumar began investigating if they were correct. birth deformity in cattle in the study area was 1.3% as against 1.6% in the reference area. Mohammed Asheel is a fast talker. This was to eradicate tea mosquitoes in the cashew plantations. While NIOH study was in-depth and high-tech, Sivaraman committees work was very extensive. From NIOH report: “Our major criteria for the selection of reference population was the similarity (in) ethnic background, climate, food habits, occupations, crops and socio-economic status and absence of aerial spray of endosulfan. The Central government has banned its aerial spray. This simplistic argument has confused many. By 2001, the issue became big enough for the Kerala government to ban endosulfan. Endosulfan was detected in only 2 samples out of 22 water samples analysed during the second phase of sampling. The National Institute Occupational Health (Indian Council of Medical Research) says that after studying various aetiological factors responsible for health problem was aerial spraying of Endosulfan.” www.endosulfanvictims.org. There is nobody with mental retardation or cancer there. The scientific process requires that the results of any study be reproducible. India can well choose to accept the Stockholm Convention’s decision and discontinue the use of endosulfan as a precautionary measure. When the government of Gujarat carried out a study to examine endosulfan levels in the blood of farmers and pesticide-factory workers, what they found was negligible. For over 20 years, cashew plantations in Kasargod district in Kerala used Endosulfan as a … Endosulfan Tragedy of Kerala. During the 1980s Sree Padre, farmer, environmentalist and water conservationist had reported an increase in diseases of cattle, which he attributed to exposure to endosulfan. There are serious design defects in this study and these might make any extrapolation of the findings to the total exposed communities impossible. It would be ridiculous, therefore, to say paracetamol causes cancer based on a single study. Another study suggests a link between endosulfan and autism among children in California. Endosulfan has been an easy target. Watch Videos and Photos of Exclusive Breaking News. Sign up to receive interesting long form stories of Politics, Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. The first group consists of the inhabitants of the polluted territory. August 8 that the import of endosulfan into the South American country will be banned from July 1, 2012. A lesson in how India handles scientific debate, Priyanka Pulla In the DDT case, pesticide manufacturers argued against data demonstrating its harmful effects, and resisted a ban for years. Some of the services are also made available through online portal. But absence of proof is not proof of absence, argues Asheel. When children develop a slight headache, mothers worry that this may be the onset of hydrocephalus. We therefore selected Meenja Panchayat area as control. The spraying of endsosulfan in the cashew plantations of State-owned Plantation Corporation of Kerala caused a disaster on the biodiversity of the area, a … India was one of the biggest producers & consumers of endosulfan. Kerala government on Monday announced a comprehensive package, including free treatment, ration and pension, to people affected by the aerial spraying of pesticide endosulfan in Kasargod district. Villagers suffered the consequences. He shows a table comparing the rates of diseases such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus in the district of Kasargod with those of the rest of India. Abstract Between 1976 and 2000, more than 50,000 villagers of Kasargod district in Kerala, India have been exposed to endosulfan, a persistent organic pesticide, sprayed on the cashew plantations owned by the Plantation Corporation of Kerala. Mony dismisses this approach for identifying victims as ‘balderdash’. ( Log Out / The numbers of people affected by nearly 20 years of aerial spray of Endosulfan, an organochlorine pesticide, in the cashew plantations in Kasaragod, the northern most district of Kerala is increasing. At last count, there were over 300. “So far this is only a political issue,” says Naik, “We medical people have had no role in this.”. How- of initiating a comprehensive compensa- Kasaragod lags behind in terms of eco- ever, local communities claim that there tion package, it handed over a cheque for nomic and social development. 34% of the female subjects and 14% of the male subjects from Meencha had endosulfan in their blood. And the anomalies listed by the campaigners and the health problems reported in NIOH study were different. This, too, would get degraded within a month. It means that endosulfan is classified along with notorious pesticides such as DDT and Dieldrin because of certain characteristics—a tendency to remain in soil without degrading for long periods of time, to accumulate in the bodies of living organisms, and to travel across long distances and cause harm to living beings. The last row gives data of total population and sex ratio in villages Padre and Meencha, the sources of the samples. This picture may well be the face of the global anti-endosulfan campaign, just as Pablo Bartholomew’s photo of a partially buried child became the face of the Bhopal gas tragedy. But that is not all that is wrong with the CMC study. Endosulfan Poisoning in Kasargod, Kerala, India 9. Also known as “Sapthabhasha Sangamabhoomi” as seven major languages are spoken here. Compared to comprehensive till now, 2,836 victims as relief to endosulfan victims, but instead other districts in Kerala, northernmost were identified in 11 panchayats. Mony explains that measuring exposure to the pesticide—whether through air, soil or blood levels—is vital to a good epidemiological study. Environ Health Perspect. Children were found to be the worst affected with congenital anomalies, mental retardation, physical deformities, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, hydrocephalus etc. Among the very first was a study by the Delhi-based environmental activist group Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). “‘Your son has a disease due to endosulfan’— people like to hear this,” says a government doctor who wishes to remain anonymous. In the case of most of the diseases in PCK impacted villages, reliable local or state level data is not available. Plantaions Muliyar, Periye, Enmakaje, Cheemeni and Pedre were sprayed with endosulfan continously. Saiyed H, Dewan A, Bhatnagar V, Shenoy U, Shenoy R, Rajmohan H, et al. Another German scientist, Volker Laabs, whose study was cited in one of the Convention’s documents, also says that the pesticide’s behaviour makes ‘long-term accumulation in tropical soils under realistic field conditions not very probable.’. Crispin Halsall of the Lancaster Environment Centre in the UK, who advised the Convention on its decision, agrees that endosulfan behaves differently in tropical climates. While the focus earlier was on Padre village, the health impacts are evident in people of nearly 11 panchayats in the district. Recognising this blooper, the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) carried out another study in 2003 to determine if the problems in Kasargod were indeed caused by endosulfan. Plantation Corporation of Kerala, a state government enterprise has cultivated cashew plant in the vast areas of this district. The half-life of endosulfan varies from 60 days to 800 days. Aerial spraying is not aerial exposure. The pesticide endosulfan was sprayed aerially for around 25 years in cashew plantations situated in Kasargod and caused severe diseases and extensive malformations among people living in the region. Here, the rate of diseases observed in the study population has to be compared with the rates in another (control) population that is not exposed to the agent under consideration. Activist groups were quick to jump at the Convention’s decision to justify their claims that Kerala’s diseases were caused by endosulfan. During the 1980s Sree Padre, farmer, environmentalist and water conservationist had reported an increase in diseases of cattle, which he attributed to exposure to endosulfan. Endosulfan was detected in only 2 samples out of 22 water samples analysed during the second phase of sampling. More than 3000 people living near, downstream and downwind of the estate were affected by debilitating rare diseases like mental retardation, cerebral palsy, cancer etc. Only one health study, conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) Ahmedabad, as mandated by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Read latest news updates from Kasaragod District Kerala in English. Sex ratio of the reference and the study populations in the sample is 835 and 782 males per 1000 females respectively. A married couple is staying with the husband’s parents. And how. SC also directed the Kerala government to pay Rs 500 crores as compensation to over 5,000 victims. This group has been exposed through all the pathways listed above and can hence be considered as the highly exposed group. Thus they concluded that, ome of the reports in the press have shown congenital malformations and other problems in the cattle. Study of climate change mitigation potential in organic farming. The rationality of science and economics, and the politics of development often silence the struggles of individuals and communities exposed to the risks of indiscriminate use of pesticides. This is perhaps why neither the World Health Organization, nor the American or Australian regulatory authorities classify endosulfan as a carcinogen. Aerial spraying of endosulfan has been banned since 2000. In such cases, the sample selected for the studies should be more or less similar in sex and age structure, socio-economic status, cultural traits and life styles. Continuing Disaster Of Endosulfan In Kasargod And Kannur Districts Of Kerala. Just as he reaches her, the rest of the family rushes in and sees the scene. Lump sums of up to Rs 5 lakh, a monthly social-security allowance of Rs 1,700 and medical treatment were given to around 4,000 patients. For example, a study showing that endosulfan may affect the occipital lobe, the visual processing centre of the brain, is taken to mean that endosulfan causes blindness. Again, the spraying occurred on only two days each year. Even after he begins answering my questions, he dodges a few. It neither remains in soil for long, nor does it accumulate in the bodies of large mammals. The NIOH study was based on a small sample, which is less than 2% of the total exposed population. Researchers studying children from many villages in Kasargod District, Kerala, India, have linked endosulfan exposure to delays in sexual maturity among boys. A government doctor who worked in Kasargod for six years, said, “In my panchayat of 22,000 people, no more than 300 people had diseases. This was to eradicate tea mosquitoes in the cashew plantations. This is the crux of the dispute. This muddies the waters. SC also directed the Kerala government to pay Rs 500 crores as compensation to over 5,000 victims. 29. Unlike in Kasargod, these farmers spray endosulfan using handheld sprayers, meaning they are likely to be exposed to more of the chemical. Asheel also shares another study that links prostate cancer among men with exposure to several pesticides such as endosulfan and DDT. The committee’s findings are given in two tables (without table numbers) on pages 21 and 22 of the report. – short duration. In most cases, the evidence is vague and tenuous. Study of occupational health of workers exposed to ionizing radiation in the Aluva plant of the Indian Rare Earths. CONTINUING DISASTER OF ENDOSULFAN IN KASARGOD AND KANNUR DISTRICTS OF KERALA, Between 1976 and 2000, more than 50,000 villagers of Kasargod district in Kerala, India have been exposed to endosulfan, a persistent organic pesticide, sprayed on the cashew plantations owned by the Plantation Corporation of Kerala. The exposure can be to an agent in environment, a microbe, a chemical (endosulfan, tobacco smoke), heavy metals like cadmium or a physical agent like ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. An Invisible Disaster. Kennedy, who has published a large body of research on endosulfan, alleges that the Convention cherry-picked data from laboratory studies and arctic studies, which do not reflect field conditions in countries like India and Australia at all. Some people have been exposed through all four pathways and they will be in the high dose category. In soil, the chemical would degrade in less than a month. For one thing, the Convention’s decision is by no means beyond scientific debate. Suffering of some families with mental retardation can be considerably reduced by setting up day care centres. These may be good copies for the media and music for the environmentalists. In its Kasaragod estate alone, the Plantation Corporation sprayed 31510 litres of endosulfan between 1990 and 2000. Abstract Between 1976 and 2000, more than 50,000 villagers of Kasargod district in Kerala, India have been exposed to endosulfan, a persistent organic pesticide, sprayed on the cashew plantations owned by the Plantation Corporation of Kerala. NIOH for data on study and reference populations, District census handbook for village statistics (Last two rows). To sum up, NIOH team did not find any increase in diseases prevalent in PCK villages and are associated with endosulfan in the public mind. In the final report, the label has been changed as reference area and reference population. Besides The Plantation Corporation of Kerala, a state enterprise, cultivates vast areas. The suffering caused by years of endosulfan use on cashew plantations in Kerala's Kasaragod district is well known: birth defects, high rates of mental retardation, and delayed puberty, in addition to the hundreds of deaths directly attributed to the antiquated insecticide. As of today, the endosulfan issue is more of a political debate than a scientific one. 11, 14 Mar, 2015. Scores of victims of endosulfan at Kasargod district in Kerala staged a novel protest on Monday by staging a day-long fasting at their houses and spread the pictures through social media. In one of the several emails exchanged with me before we met, he proclaimed in capital letters, ‘The endosulfan king is naked.’. Besides But the blood levels CSE reported, at over 100 parts per million, were not just high, they were unbelievable. He was friends with the same green activists with whom he is at loggerheads today. There is a high incidence of disorders of the central nerves system, Cancer and reproductive disorders. This should be investigated by studies involving larger populations.” NIOH final report 51. For over 20 years, cashew plantations in Kasargod district in Kerala used Endosulfan as a pesticide. The study has two major design defects – (1) Endosulfan was found in soil samples and blood samples from the reference villages also. (1). Prone to long-range atmospheric transport, Endosulfan linked to serious health disorders in the citizens residing in these areas. As for the bogus victims, he says his team is learning from the mistakes of the first round. High rate of cancer and genetic disorders. From the studies carried out by scientists such as Laabs and Kennedy, we can picture the following scenario: Endosulfan falling on leaves would degrade within a mere 15 days in the hot weather of Kasargod, unlike other POPs such as DDT. Kerala Endosulfan victims allege negligence by state govt. In the future, Asheel says, patients will be selected for the camp based on the ‘biological plausibility’ of the disease they have. Centre for Science and Environment, Kerala Agricultural University and the National Institute of Occupational Health conducted these studies. This district is famous for its cashew plantation. Men and women were also affected with various chronic ailments, many irreversible and difficult to treat. But to him, this doesn’t change anything, because he believes the fault with the CMC study lies only with data analysis. To study the endosulfan degrading microorganisms, 20 soil samples were collected from five different cashew plantations having a history of endosulfan applications. (MS) No. And the occurrence of several diseases in villages close to the sprayed plantations is below this threshold. When I ask him what biological plausibility means, he points to studies in rats and mice where endosulfan has been shown to produce cancers and reproductive disorders. Asheel’s talk is peppered with words such as ‘gaba receptors’ and ‘COPD’ (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), medical terminology that will throw most lay people off. Unlike in the case of aerial exposure, distance from the plantation may not be a good indicator of the concentration in water. We have to follow the government’s policy and toe the line. When I ask an ICMR official how the Council could allow such a poor quality study, he says the body does not take ownership of the study, and while he tries to address some of the loopholes, he leaves other questions unanswered. Restricting the study to a small sample is usual and permitted. The numbers of people affected by nearly 20 years of aerial spray of Endosulfan, an organochlorine pesticide, in the cashew plantations in Kasaragod, the northern most district of Kerala is increasing. Cattles with congenital anomalies and cancers are more likely to be sold for slaughter. And yet, there haven’t been reports of disease epidemics among these farmers. What does all this say about the Kasargod experience? Consequently, the Govt. Vol. subjects of the study were students of two schools – one located in village Padre and the other in village Meenja. The Supreme Court, on January 10, directed the Kerala government to pay Rs 500 crores in three months as compensation to over 5,000 victims of the use of endosulfan pesticide. It only means that the system of classifying BPL people needs to be improved.”. This means that the exposed group should be compared with a comparable unexposed group, which will be known as the control group. Rate of infertility in cattle was 4 times higher in the reference area. The pesticide endosulfan was sprayed aerially for around 25 years in cashew plantations situated in Kasargod and caused severe diseases and extensive malformations among people living in the region. Second, there are rat studies that indicate the opposite—that endosulfan does not cause tumors. Chronic exposure through water and food appears to be the major pathway. Tea plantations, paddy and fruit orchards in other areas of Kerala also used this pesticide administered via aerial spraying or manual pumps. The case of the endosulfan disaster that occurred in Kasargod, Kerala can be accounted to environmental harms which detrimentally affected the environment and its units, especially humans. So everyone in Kasargod must have fallen sick due to endosulfan. There are several published studies that indicate that malathion can cause cancer, and similarly, there are several that indicate it doesn’t. The state government has been providing some monetary relief, out of budgetary allocation. For over 20 years, cashew plantations in Kasargod district in Kerala used Endosulfan as a pesticide. So far, several hundred crore have been disbursed to so-called endosulfan victims in Kerala, with very little proof that the pesticide was indeed the cause. Its residues spread far and wide via wind and rain, leaving a trail of destruction in the district and neighbouring regions of Karnataka, killing more than 1,00… This is a study of students of a school which was proximate to sprayed village with the students of a school that was not under the toxic cloud. Onmanorama.Kasaragod News. Perhaps one of the biggest critics of this decision is Ivan Kennedy, an environmental chemist at the University of Sydney, who has called it ‘bad bad science’. A raging controversy has been going on about the aerial spraying of Endosulfan, an organochlorine, pesticide in the cashew plantations of Enmakaje Panchayat in Kasargod district of Kerala and its role in the causation of high morbidity and greater prevalence of congenital malformations and malignancies in the area. Since endosulfan can cause mutation, the impacts of exposure during 1980-2000 will be felt several decades and even generations later. Exposed parents’ children born several years after the accident suffered significantly. The SC bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar also asked the state to consider setting up … Environmentalists and denizens of this district began to believe this spray was slowly poisoning people. Study on the environmental pollution control of some pesticides and insecticides in soil by using bacteriae. 1550/20/10/HFW, dated: 09.04.2010 (Annexure I). And the conditions significantly higher in the exposed community, though important from a scientific and research point of view, are not the major source of worry for the exposed people. NIOH observed that “aerial exposure” to endosulfan was responsible for delay in sexual maturity among the adolescents. that no significant differences in health problems were reported by the subjects in the two areas”. In Cheemeni and Ajanur, there are small differences of 20% and 13% respectively. Meanwhile, Manoj Kumar, secretary of the Kerala Government Medical Officers’ Association, says only that “it is a controversial issue. A raging controversy has been going on about the aerial spraying of Endosulfan, an organochlorine, pesticide in the cashew plantations of Enmakaje Panchayat in Kasargod district of Kerala and its role in the causation of high morbidity and greater prevalence of congenital malformations and malignancies in the area. Details are given below: NIOH did find some statistically significant increases in some health problems in the study population. People exposed through other pathways will be much larger than those directly under the cloud. The CMC study also does not specify the method it followed to arrive at a meaningful sample, a critical requirement for a good study. Paediatricians examined the willing subjects for assessing the sexual maturity. Some want to sell their land and move elsewhere, but the belief that the soil is poisoned ensures that they will get only throwaway prices. A delay of two years in the appearance of moustache and advancement of menarche by one year are really important issues. Delay in sexual maturity like appearance of pubic hair in adolescent boys. Suskumaran committee report is mirrored on the website of the Endosulfan Relief and Rehabilitation Council. As a rule, soil, water and sediments in valleys will be higher than that in the foothills. Notes. According to a critique by Sreekumar and fellow entomologist Pratapan Divakaran, published in the magazine Current Science, the levels of endosulfan in the blood of patients in the CMC study seem to have no correlation with the health of these patients. Ahmedabad, India:National Institute of Occupational Health. Likewise, endosulfan was not detected in blood samples from 15% of the females and 23% of the males in the study population. But these would not be statistically significant. This is why a single study is never enough to establish a fact. It has linked a mind-boggling variety of diseases—ranging from autism to sterility to mental retardation—to a single chemical. Narendra Modi has declared war on black money. Despite government promises, official efforts to … Sitting behind a desk covered with stacks of paper in Kasargod’s Kerala Agricultural University, is Kinavoor Madathil Sreekumar, an associate professor of entomology—the study of pests and pest control. But the list of bogus victims taints this massive campaign against the pesticide and raises a crucial question. In Periya, there are only two persons with disabilities out of a total population of 9,388. Endosulfan was used extensively as an aerial spray, including over the state’s own cashew plantations. In the first round of medical camps for victims in Kasargod, people with diseases such as jaundice, depression, hearing loss, epilepsy, and even those with non-diseases such as limb amputation, were classified as endosulfan victims and given government aid. By the time the ban was imposed in 2001, he was convinced they weren’t. The Bhopal Gas Tragedy ensured that Indians have no faith in the regulatory system. Concentration of endosul fan was below detection limit in all the 22 samples analysed during the third phase. So I cannot give a straightforward answer.” Several of the other doctors I spoke to were unwilling to go on record against the official policy line. 29.   This inspired protests, and the pesticide was banned in Kerala as early as 2001, following a report by the National Institute of Occupational Health. Begin with radiation in the press have shown congenital malformations and other diseases among the survivors of Bhopal accident Enmakaje... 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