(Beyond Pesticides, March 5, 2007) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has failed to protect the public from exposure to two highly toxic pesticides, dichlorvos (DDVP) and carbaryl. The chemicals are found in common household products that have been demonstrated in laboratory studies to cause severe neurological and developmental harm, according to a lawsuit filed February 28, 2007, by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
The action charges that EPA has missed its congressionally mandated deadline to finalize a comprehensive reevaluation of carbaryl, failed for 20 years to finish an expedited review of DDVP, and failed to respond to a petition calling for a ban on the chemicals.
“EPA is needlessly jeopardizing the health of our children,” said Jennifer Sass, Ph.D., an NRDC senior scientist. “The agency should ban DDVP and carbaryl. There are safer alternatives on the market today, and we urge consumers to avoid any products that use either of these two pesticides.”
DDVP*, currently used in pest strips, aerosol sprays and pet collars, is one of a class of the most dangerous pesticides on the market, called organophosphates, which derive from World War II-era nerve agents. Studies have shown DDVP causes cancer in laboratory animals. California lists DDVP as a known carcinogen, while the World Health Organization and EPA list it as a possible human carcinogen. According to NRDC, DDVP already is banned overseas, including the United Kingdom, Denmark and Sweden.
Carbaryl*, a highly toxic pesticide used in large-scale agriculture, lawn products, commercial garden centers and pet products, is particularly toxic to the developing nervous system in fetuses, infants, and young children. EPA acknowledges that carbaryl can overstimulate the nervous system, inducing symptoms including nausea, dizziness, confusion, and even death in extreme cases.
Through a deal with the Amvac Corporation, DDVP’s manufacturer, some uses were canceled and are being phased-out. Bayer, the manufacturer of carbaryl, made a similar deal in 2003. However, according to environmental and health advocates, nothing short of a full ban on these highly toxic, outdated pesticides will adequately protect health and the environment.
“EPA has known about the risks of these chemicals to human health for decades, and has dragged its feet while allowing exposures to continue,” said Mae Wu, a staff attorney at NRDC.
The lawsuit, NRDC v. Johnson, U.S. EPA, is being filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Dr. Sass will be speaking at the upcoming National Pesticide Forum, Changing Course in a Changing Climate: Solutions for health and the environment, June 1-3 in Chicago.
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