|June 8, 2000
WASHINGTON (AP) - Citing health risks to children,
the Environmental Protection Agency is announcing today
a ban on one of the most common pesticides for use in
gardens and homes, while curtailing its application in
The agency, after a lengthy review, has concluded
that the pesticide, chlorpyrifos - sold under the trade
names Dursban and Lorsban - poses a risk to children
because of its potential effects on the nervous system
and possibly brain development.
For decades one of the most widely used insecticides,
chlorpyrifos is found on everything from pet flea
collars to garden and lawn chemicals and indoor bug
sprays. It also has been used widely in agriculture to
protect fruits, vegetables and grains from insects.
Under an agreement that heads off further
regulations, Dow Chemical Co., will immediately halt
production of chlorpyrifos for virtually all
nonagricultural uses. The EPA also will impose tighter
restrictions on its use on some agricultural products,
specifically apples and grapes, and ban its use on
tomatoes. These restrictions are designed to eliminate
the chemical's residues on foods often consumed by
While the insecticide will be prohibited for use by
commercial pest control or lawn care companies, the
agency is not imposing a recall of products already on
the market and on the shelves of stores nationwide,
prompting complaints from some environmental and health
"When the EPA identifies hazards it should stop
their use," said Jay Feldman, executive director of
the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides.
"There's concern that these products are going
to remain on the shelves" and that the insecticide
will continue - although at much reduced levels - be
used in agriculture, said David Wallinga, a scientist
for the Natural Resources Defense Council. He said that
under the EPA phase-out, existing stocks of Dursban may
continue to be sold for household and garden use for 18
Hundreds of consumer products contain the chemical
compound and many people can be expected to buy the
products - bug sprays and lawn and garden insecticides,
for example - this summer not knowing of the health
risks, said Wallinga, who nevertheless called the EPA
action "a good step."
EPA officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in
advance of the formal announcement, said the new
restrictions and the agreement with Dow Chemical
provides the swiftest way to remove the material from
the market. Most of the products containing chlorpyrifos
for nonagricultural purposes will be gone by the end of
the year, said one of the EPA officials.
Chlorpyrifos is among a family of 37 pesticides known
as organophosphates that attack the nervous system and
are under review by the EPA because of their potential
health effects on children. Congress passed a law four
years ago requiring the review to be completed by
October, 1999, but so far only a handful of the
chemicals have been examined.
Last year the agency banned the use of the pesticide
methyl parathion on fruits and many vegetables and
restricted the use of azinphos-methyl. Like
chlorpyrifos, they are in the organophosphate family.
Last month, an EPA draft study concluded that another
insecticide, diazinon, which is also that family, may
pose a greater health risks than previously thought.
This pesticide also is widely used in homes and gardens.
A final review on diazinon is expected before the end of
Under the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act, the EPA
is required to restrict or ban a pesticide's use if it
poses a specific threat to children. The increased
concern about chlorpyrifos emerged after studies - some
conducted by Dow Chemical Co. - found that the compound
causes brain damage in fetal rats, whose mothers were
given the pesticide.
No such direct link has been established in humans,
but the animal tests were enough to trigger a finding
that the pesticide should not be used where children
might become exposed, scientists said.
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