Just Name Your Poison

  Various chemicals used in many things from hydro fracking, bug spray to the road deicer “brine” sprayed over Vermont highways each winter are covered by rules protecting corporate proprietary trade secrets. Set aside whether the secret compounds are or aren’t harmful and think about how ridiculously difficult it has become to answer a simple question: What is in this stuff ?  

 Vermont compost has had a bad season. Earlier in the summer leaves on vegetable plants in gardens that used Green Mountain Compost began to twist yellow and turn brown. It became evident that some herbicide had made its way into their compost. Chittenden Solid Waste District which operates Green Mountain Compost reacted quickly and arranged for specialized laboratory testing of the suspect compost.      

But is it two herbicides or three?

A problem arose when tests by different labs conducted for the state of Vermont on contaminated compost found a third herbicide and could not confirm the original findings. Trace amounts of two herbicides ,Picoram and Clopyralid were found in the original tests. These compounds are in very small amounts and apparently will not harm people, but the state and Chittenden Waste tests have run head first into the problem of how to test conclusively for proprietary chemical compounds.    The frustrated manager at CSWD Tom Moreau suggested methods to identify compounds found in corporate secret formulas should be available.

He [Moreau] wants the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement a national standard for testing. Moreau says the testing methods his agency and the state have to rely on are proprietary - meaning they are owned by the companies involved.  

"Isn't it funny that the state has to call DuPont and Dow saying, ‘How do you test for these compounds?'" Moreau asks. "Sure, they're the authors and they're the originators and they're the patent holders of those. But, don't you think that when they're registered, that we would have a universal methodology to test for them in residuals?"

  Yes,you would think universal testing methodologies should be available for public safety testing. But,no it isn’t funny, that for the sake of protecting corporate trade secrets we have little idea what is in secret proprietary formulas of “stuff” that get sprayed, dumped and spread all over roads, fields and even us each year.  

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