Studies Indict Endosulfan

The Pesticides Manufactures and Formulators Association of India (PMFAI) continues to be in denial on the role the pesticide had on the health of the people in Kasaragod.  In a reply affidavit filed by the association, they have cited iodine deficiency, radiation and genetic inbreeding, as the cause for the health problems in the district.    
Mohammed Asheel, assistant nodal officer of Kerala's endosulfan rehabilitation project says not only is it an irresponsible statement but also unscientific and ridiculous. A member of the joint committee on the condition of anonymity, said that congenital anomalies due to consanguinity was ruled out. The study conducted by the Department of Community Medicine of the Calicut Medical College,  makes it clear that in both the study area and control area, consanguinity was not a common practice.

A Right to Information query by C Nithyanand Pai, convener of Consumer Welfare Forum in Puttur (Karnataka), shows that ICMR had funded a project titled 'Effect of long term endosulfan exposure on male fertility' in 2003 but never revealed the study despite it being completed in 2006. The study was conducted by a team of doctors of Kasturba Medical College, Manipal. The lead investigator of the study was Pratap Kumar, head of department of obstetrics and gynecology. Read more…

The RTI shows that the study concluded that reproductive hormones like follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) and testosterone levels were significantly reduced in endosulfan exposed population compared to those who were not exposed to endosulfan. The cytogenetic study also revealed significantly higher amount of genetic damage compared to unexposed control objects.

Another report published by the Kerala State Council for Science Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) concludes that endosulfan is still persistent in the soil and sediment samples even after 10 years since aerial spraying stopped in the cashew plantations  in Kasaragod. The study was conducted in the 11 affected panchayats in Kasaragod district in Kerala. Read more

Soil samples from Bellur (25.96 ppb or micro gram per kilogram), Kallar (20.83 ppb) and Pullur Periya panchayat (16.91 ppb), had maximum values of endosulfan residues. Muliyar (19.69 ppb) and Kalar(6.22 ppb) panchayats had high endosulfan residues in sediment samples collected from ponds and valley slopes.

"Endosulfan is persistent in acidic conditions. (The lateritic soil, temperature and humidity conditions in these parts make the soil acidic). It is worrisome to see that the residues still exist and it is a possibility that it could have entered the food chain as well," said CTS Nair, former executive vice president, KSCSTE.

The report also concludes that the endosulfan sprayed area showed a decline in plant diversity between 40-70 per cent. 'Honey bees which were abundant and a source of income for most farmers, became almost completely absent during the period of spray,'  concludes the study. The report was submitted to Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy on July 5.

The study though had limited scope yet it set a benchmark for future studies to monitor the level of persistence of endosulfan over a number of years and the long term changes.