Pollutants are not natural!

Discussion in 'Organic Beekeeping' started by BjornBee, Aug 31, 2009.

  1. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Oxolic acid, pheromone lures to capture mites, Queen pheromone boosters, synthetic brood pheromones, Formic acid, and a host of other things are from time to time, are mentioned as "natural". I've heard that the acids are "natural" due to them being produced on some level in nature, and so the rationale is that huge quantities, are also considered "Natural".

    Arsenic is natural, as well as salt. Both in high enough amounts can kill. Both are needed for life. But even lower amounts cause damage in many forms, once you go above the limits found naturally.

    Definition of a pollutant: A pollutant is any naturally occuring substance that is in the wrong place or is found in excess.
    Seems many thing we place in the hive and try to justify it's use, can be classified as a "pollutant".

    And many times, pollutants are found to be a danger in so many ways.

    Something to think about.
     
  2. Bhodi

    Bhodi New Member

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    Dosen't this statement contradict your thread title?
    It is? How so?
    By definition: pollution - undesirable state of the natural environment being contaminated with harmful substances as a consequence of human activities
    so, sure, pollution is bad. No question.

    I guess maybe I'm missing your point here. I agree that dumping a bunch of crap in your hive, natural or not, isn't the best way to go, but using a judicious amount of select natural substances to control pests and diseases is better losing several colonies, isn't it?
     

  3. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    perhaps a side bar to this thread might be...

    not so long ago a fellow (more my father's era than my own) by the name of ames developed the ames test for cancer causing material. some 50 years later mr ames stated that in testing a large number of product for their 'cancer causing' ability about half of naturally occuring products and about half the man made products met the criterion for being classified as carcinogenic.

    so whould a man made product that is in the wrong place or is found in excess not be a pollutant?
     
  4. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Bhodi,
    Of course these discussions must be kept in perspective.

    Take for instance, a can of paint. MOST people would not conclude that a can of paint, applied to the side of your house, or to the outside of the beehive, is a pollutant. Take that same can of paint and dump it in the local stream, and that would be a pollutant.

    Not everything found in excess or the wrong place should be considered in such a definition."In the wrong place" must also be considered. But..... My wood pile would be questionable for the definition above. It is a pile of wood that is excessive to anything nature could provide herself, and it did not happen by nature and could be called out of place. But I do not consider a stacked woodpile as a pollutant. So perhaps some wiggle room is always in order. Without the wiggle room, most discussions on anything become bogged down in trivial details and nitpick discussions.

    As for your arsenic question, many trace elements and chemicals are found naturally in animals, your body, etc. They are essential to life. Two good examples to that that most can identify with, would be salt and water. Although needed for life, in excess, they are deadly. You can salt yourself to death and even drink water to your death. Too much salt, too much arsenic, or too much water, are all natural substances but yet in the wrong place or in excess, can kill by being a pollutant your body can not deal with.

    A good question would be my house. Is it an environmental pollutant? Some would say yes. But if I asked about the birdhouse in the tree, most would say no. The bird used resources such as grass , mud, and twigs, some which would not get there by themselves if not by being placed there by the bird. The bird uses available resources to it's disposal, and so does man in building a house.

    Pollutants, as defined in environmental discussions, outline the BASIS for what a pollutant is by definition. It then needs to be applied to individual circumstances. Is the can a paint a pollutant by the mere fact that is a can of paint, or by the way it interacts with nature by how it is used? On the house....not a pollutant. Poured in the steam....a pollutant.

    I mention the definition, only to encourage open thought as to the products we apply in beekeeping. I hear many suggest that formic or oxalic acid is "natural" due to the understanding that ants use acids and therefore some call all amounts natural as if pouring it by the bottle inside a hive is on that same level. Just as taking that natural pile of salt in the dessert, and dumping it in your front yard, it becomes a pollutant killing all life form, plant and animal. Maybe those levels of acid which drives the bees outside the hive should be considered a pollutant also.
     
  5. Bhodi

    Bhodi New Member

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    If this was directed toward me, I would say pollution could be from natural or man made sources.

    Here is where I read the definition of pollution.

    A natural source could be from a volcanic eruption or a forrest fire caused by lightning. Both put huge amounts of ash and soot in the air.

    A man made source could be from cars, factories.... the list goes on...
     
  6. Bhodi

    Bhodi New Member

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    Hi Bjorn,

    First, I'd like to say I'm not looking be difficult or to cause trouble here and be nit-picky with you. I'm simply just looking to open up a polite and informative dicussion. Hopefully, I can add to this thread, not detract from it. I'm not looking to fight with anyone.

    I agree with your example of paint. When used as intended, it is not a pollutant. But, prior to applying the new paint, when the old paint is scaped off and left on the ground, it is a pollutant. It is not where it is supposed to be and the soil is now contaminated with a harmful substance.

    The arsenic: I understand what you are saying about essential minerals and essential nutrients. However, niether link show that we need arsenic, and to quote the second link:

    "Many elements have been implicated at various times to have a role in human health. For NONE of these elements has a specific protein or complex been identified: ...Arsenic"

    My point was, as I understand it, people do not need arsenic in any way, shape or form to support life or proper nutrition. Is this not correct? Again, I'm looking to understand and learn, not be nit-picky and find fault.

    Going back and re-reading your initial post, I do agree that over-use of any substance, natural or synthetic, is not a good idea no matter where it is found or used. Beekeepers should be aware that "natural" does not equal harmless. Alcohol is a natural byproduct of naturally occuring yeast, yet too much isn't good for you.

    I suppose I just took issue with your definition of pollution, as it could be natural or synthetic, and also our bodies need for arsenic.
     
  7. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    bhodi writes:
    If this was directed toward me, I would say pollution could be from natural or man made sources.

    tecumseh:
    well I guess the question was really just tossed out there bhodi and anyone may and may not decide to respond... but thanks for considering the question.

    then bhodi writes:
    Beekeepers should be aware that "natural" does not equal harmless. Alcohol is a natural byproduct of naturally occuring yeast, yet too much isn't good for you.

    tecumseh:
    I would suggest that bioliogical organism might deal with natural* vs synthetic materials quite differently. from there relative to the bees it oftentime becomes a question of how much of these compounds become wrap up (I quess half life would be the proper frame work here) in the bioliogy (and most especially the wax and honey) of a beehive. the natural stuff seem to work there way out of the hive bioliogy fairly quickly and the man made stuff can seem to linger for quite some time. I think it is pretty undisputable (give the data collect and lab work performed around the ccd problem) that any number of man made beekeeper applied mite-i-cides (some approved and some not) suggest that you can deal with a problem now and 'the remedy' may reward you with problem for a very long time to come.

    *natural.. the pollen of flowers may be quite natural to the bees bioliogy but there are pollen sources which are quite lethal to bees. yellow jasmin is one example.
     
  8. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Bhodi,
    I'll have to dig deeper on the arsenic. Perhaps my comments are off. It would not be the first time.... :D

    It may not be listed as an essential mineral or element for human health, but does it play a role in "life"? From what I understand, "essentials" are elements, or even proteins, that the body can not create from other like elements. I'll use proteins as example. There are many amino acids in protein. Some may be made up if lacking through processes in the body, whereas "essential" amino acids can not be. They are there or not, in the correct amounts. That is why they are listed as "essential" amino acids, while there are many others not listed that way.

    I may be just repeating what I heard about arsenic. Although from just the reading you mentioned, arsenic is essential to life on the planet in many ways. You have to wonder what would be different without arsenic as an element. Would all the other processes of been completed in the manner they did? It clearly states arsenic is not needed for "health" in humans, but I would question the need of it through the billions of years that earth was created and life created. It may of played a huge role through the many changes, and who knows if it was essential in getting the world to where we are today. I was not really sure about arsenic, and that is why I threw in on the sly, salt also. But what I stated is no doubt wrong as stated. Although I hate to fully trust stuff on Wikipedia... ;)

    As for natural or synthetic pollution (I agree with what you said), the definition was taken from a environmental discussion I had with others and probably dismisses synthetics as not even being needed mentioned. The definition in context, was not trying to dismiss synthetics. I think synthetics by some groups could never be classified as "natural" and thus no requirments to define by "amount or place" needs to take place. Although I see your point in questioning it.

    It too early for this stuff..... :shock: