Based on the discussions of Lopez (2007) in her book, “The Farmworkers’ Journey,” about the issues, problems, struggles, and difficulties experienced by migrant farm workers in various states including California, the use of Methyl bromide in farming, although efficient in terms of eliminating destructive elements and species to farm plants, is hazardous to the health and well-being of individuals.
Since the state of California was identified to be one of the major consumers of methyl bromide, toxic emissions to the atmosphere and the environment have resulted to numerous deaths and health problems to state residents.According to Lopez, “Nineteen people in California died from methyl bromide exposure between 1982 and 1997. ” (p. 135) The hazards or dangers involved with methyl bromide makes its use a serious matter that the state government and the people are trying to resolve. The remainder of this discussion shall explore the many angles or perspectives surrounding methyl bromide including its many uses and contributions to productive and efficient farming, the threats and risks involved with its use and emission into the atmosphere and the environment as a whole, and the overall effects of methyl bromide as a toxic compound.As a means to widen the scope and extend judgments and conclusions on the matter at hand, this discussion will also entail the ideas and perspectives of Rachel Carson, a writer and an ecologist who authored the book “Silent Spring.
” Carson’s comprehensive research studies and sensible commentaries or ideas on environmental issues are instrumental in establishing rational and critical generalizations and recommendations concerning the preventive or continued use of methyl bromide. Methyl Bromide: Benefits and UsesMethyl bromide, otherwise known as bomomethane or CH3Br, is a “colorless and odorless gas at normal temperatures and pressures... manufactured from naturally occurring bromide salts which are either contained in underground brine deposits, or in highly concentrated above ground sources. ” (U.
S. Environmental Protection Agency) The chemical composition, CH3Br, has been found out to be efficient in managing the condition of various crops, methyl bromide has been widely used in California wherein large productive farms are located.According to Lopez (2007), “Methyl bromide is a broad spectrum soil fumigant widely used to control insects, pathogens, nematodes, weeds, and rodent pests. It is accurately toxic, mutagenic, a developmental and reproductive toxin, and listed as an EPA Category I fumigant. ” (p. 135) Being listed under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Category I fumigant, methyl bromide has been officially identified as a high-risk fumigation agent that has been conferred with strict regulations concerning its use or application.
Thus, the use of methyl bromide within the state of California is conditional and was granted with strict rules and guidelines. As previously mentioned, local farmers may use methyl bromide for various purposes. As a fumigant, methyl bromide acts as a sanitizing or purifying agent that sterilizes the soil. The process of fumigation with the use methyl bromide leads to the elimination or destruction of unproductive organisms found in soil.
In order to do so, farmers obtain substantial amount of methyl bromide for fumigation and is injected top soil prior to the sowing or transplanting of crops to the earth. As a ruling guideline, farmers are obligated to utilize numerous layers of plastic sheets to cover the ground as a means to prevent the emission of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. (U. S. Environmental Protection Agency) Farmers may also use methyl bromide as a treatment solution for specific commodities. In this case, the “methyl bromide gas is injected into a chamber or under a tarp containing the commodities.
” (U. S.Environmental Protection Agency) Methyl bromide also benefits farmers and even individuals inhabiting houses and buildings due to its chemical or toxic properties that are potent for pests and termites. When the methyl bromide is in its gaseous form, the substance is sprayed as a fumigation agent in farms, buildings, storage houses, and even ships. However, the downside of utilizing methyl bromide as a fumigation agent is that it does not only exterminate pests and termites but also affects the health and wellbeing of other species or organisms within the space or area sprayed with its fumes.As detailed by the U.
S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Methyl bromide is a toxic material. Exposure to this chemical will affect not only the target pests it is used against, but non-target organisms as well. ” The Effects of Methyl Bromide As initially established, the utilization of methyl bromide is strictly prohibited and bounded by various rules and regulations depending on how it is used, especially in the state of California, which is one of the recurrent users around the globe.Ultimately, the EPA, the Department of Pesticide Regulation, and the Californian state government has implanted the establishment of buffer zones, regular and strict supervision of the amount of methyl bromide in the atmosphere, the development of strategies and campaigns that advocate for the appropriate and responsible use of methyl bromide as a fumigation agent, and the creation of adequate plans that would resolve threats, risks, and specific problems in times of emergencies.
(Abdollah)The reason behind strict regulations and precautions surrounding the use or application of methyl bromide includes its detrimental effect to not only the atmosphere and the environment but also to human beings and other species or organisms as well. Several research studies and scientific experiments have proven that methyl bromide is hazardous to the health and wellbeing of individuals. According to James Butler, a correspondent and contributor to the NOAA Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory in the United States, “Methyl bromide at high concentrations is toxic to humans. Apparently, when human beings are exposed to high concentrations of methyl bromide or otherwise for a long period of time, it would result to the development of illnesses or diseases associated with the breakdown or malfunction of the nervous and respiratory system.
Other symptoms include weakened lungs, eye injuries, and severe skin conditions. (U. S. Environmental Protection Agency) Pan North America has reported that aside from the nineteen deaths of Californian residents during the past two decades, there had been 454 incidents of human poisoning recorded.The individuals who were admitted for treatment and medical advice as well as the many workers in Californian farms who have been highly exposed to methyl bromide also exhibited kidney failures and high-risk conditions for cancer. Other light or moderate symptoms include “headaches, blurred vision, nausea and dizziness.
” (PANNA) Another effect that arises from the utilization of methyl bromide is the depletion of ozone in the atmosphere. This has caught the attention of environmentalists and ecologists leading them to lobby against the application of methyl bromide, especially is a fumigation agent.However, research studies have also shown that although the soil and commodities, which are injected and sprayed with methyl bromide consecutively, are covered with plastic sheets and tarps, the toxic substance still escapes into the atmosphere. Apparently, the use of plastic sheets and tarps only reduces the amount of methyl bromide that escapes into the atmosphere by a small percentage.
(Butler) The emission of methyl bromide in the atmosphere eventually leads to the toxic chemical’s absorption into the stratosphere.Scientific studies and experiments reveal that the stratosphere can only take in so much bromine, which is present in the methyl bromide compound, that when completely inundated with the substance will rapidly lead to the tapering of the ozone layer. What worsens and speeds up the process is the existence of chlorine in the atmosphere in the effect of the combination between bromine and chlorine. Thus, current and future research studies are aimed and guided towards the discovery of how methyl bromide occurs and reacts with nature, specifically determining the direct effect of the bromine-chlorine combination.This will help scientists and other professional determine how to prevent ozone depletion by weakening the effect and bonding of methyl bromide and chlorine in the stratosphere.
(Butler) The effects of methyl bromide, as worsened by its bonding with chlorine in the atmosphere, were determined to be the primary reasons behind climate change and global warming. Ralph Cicerone and Kelly Redeker, academicians from the University of California, have studied how the utilization of hydrocarbons, including methyl bromide in the farms and rice paddies in California has contributed to the changes in weather and climate patters.The result of Cicerone and Redeker’s study match the records and discussions of Butler. Cicerone and Redeker found out that the emission of hydrocarbons in the atmosphere, specifically from rice paddies in California wherein these substances are highly used for the adequate and proper growth of crops and commodities, “even in comparatively small quantities, pose a significant threat to the ozone layer their increased production as the result of human activity, along with increased emissions of other ozone-depleting substances (ODS), is tipping the balance: ozone molecules in the stratosphere are being broken up faster than they are formed.
(Franzen)Carson’s Perspectives on Methyl Bromide Being an ecologist and an advocate for various humanitarian and environmental causes, Rachel Carson would absolutely lobby against the application of methyl bromide for whichever purpose, may it be for fumigation purposes, treatment solutions for plants or commodities, and such. In Carson’s book, “Silent Spring,” the author has openly expressed her sentiments and disagreements against the use of pesticides in the field of agriculture.Carson’s primary reasons for criticizing the use of chemicals in agriculture were brought about by the author’s concern for the health and welfare of human beings and the preservation of the environment and its many resources. However, Carson has both warned and criticized man about society’ s involvement in the creation of human and environmental risks and dangers brought about by the use of hazardous chemicals, perhaps including methyl bromide, in agriculture.
Carson said, “The most alarming of man’s assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials. ” (p. 6) Thus, the hazards and dangers that have befallen were rooted from destructive human activities. The capitalistic perspective of the majority of human kind has led them to create and apply precarious tools, devices, etc. What Carson found alarming yet also saddening is the inability of human beings to realize their mistakes.The road we have been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies danger.
” (Carson, p. 277) Carson’s ideologies regarding advocacies and recommendations to end the utilization of toxic chemicals in agriculture were brought about by the author’s belief in the miracles of nature. According to Carson, “It took hundreds of millions of years to produce the life that now inhabits the earth… The environment, rigorously shaping and directing the life it supported,… Given the time… life adjusts, and a balance has been reached.For time is the essential ingredient; but in the modern world there is no time. ” (p. 6) Carson strongly suggests that man leave the earth or the environment to its own dealings.
Nature is much an inhabitant of the earth as human beings, and the Creator behind the miracles of life has endowed every specie or organism with innate capabilities, skills, and such. Carson’s statement criticizes human beings for intervening with the natural order of life and destroying humanity and nature in the process.So what is left for man to do? Carson said that we need to make a choice. “If, having endured much, we have at last asserted our “right to know,” and if, knowing we have concluded that we are being asked to take senseless and frightening risks, then we should no longer accept the counsel of those who tell us that we must fill our world with poisonous chemicals; we should look about and see what other course is open to us.
” (Carson, p. 77-278)Despite Carson’s disappointment and disapproval of human activity that led to the creation of destructive things or objects such as pesticides and other harmful chemicals, the author still believed in the rationality of man. The author said that we human beings have choices or options, and that we as beings endowed with the elevated capacity to think rationally should be able to distinguish right from wrong and consequently do things in order to correct our mistakes.