(Beyond Pesticides, October 24, 2007) The aerial spraying for eradication of the brown apple moth, which has been disputed by environmentalist and concerned residents, is set to resume this week. This is a result of the lifting of the temporary restraining order against the use of the pesticide, in light of the order given by Governor Schwarzenegger that called on the California Department of Food and Agriculture to release the names of the chemical components of the pesticide and then restart spraying. On Friday a Monterey judge determined that the pesticide, CheckMate LBAM-F, did not contain toxic chemicals and lifted the ban instituted October 10. The restraining order was first granted more than 100 residents complained of health problems after the spraying first took place last month over the Monterey peninsula. Environmental groups sued the state claiming that a health safety assessment was never conducted before spraying. That suit is still pending. The lingering concerns prompted the governor to order the state to release the ingredients on Saturday, despite efforts by the manufacturer to keep the contents secret.
California Secretary of Food and Agriculture, A.G. Kawamura, said in a statement on Saturday that the governor supports the public’s right to know every ingredient of the pesticide, CheckMate LBAM-F, “to the maximum extent possible under U.S. trademark law” and that he is confident that full disclosure will confirm that the spray is nontoxic to humans, plants, animals and insects.
However, the inert chemicals in CheckMate LBAM-F have now come under scrutiny by local residents. These inerts ingredients causing concern are: butylated hydroxytoluene, tricaprylyl methyl ammonium chloride, polyvinyl alcohol, and sodium phosphate. These inerts are listed by the US EPA as List 3 – Inerts of unknown toxicity, and List 4B – Other ingredients for which EPA has sufficient information to reasonably conclude that the current use pattern in pesticide products will not adversely affect public health or the environment, respectively.
Suzanne Dowling, a concerned resident, said, “There are health hazards associated with each and every one of the four inert ingredients of the product to be dumped on us.” Concern, not just with the ingredients but also with their concentrations, has prompted groups such as HOPE (Helping Our Peninsula’s Environment) to ask Governor Schwarzenegger to order the state to also release the concentrations of the ingredients found in CheckMate LBAM-F. HOPE has said that it would also appeal the lifting of the ban.
Inert ingredients include many that the EPA has officially determined, under other statutory programs, to be hazardous or toxic. Numerous studies indicate that inert ingredients may enhance the toxicity of pesticide formulations to the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, mitochondria, genetic material and hormone systems (For a discussion, see “Unidentified Inert Ingredients in Pesticides: Implications for Human and Environmental Health”). Under current labeling regulation, inert ingredients do not have to be disclosed.
The pesticide CheckMate LBAM-F works as a pheromone that disrupts the mating cycle of the moth. Least toxic alternatives for pest control include the use of pheromones. However, the uncertainty about inert ingredients included in many pesticide formulations remains a serious concern. Beyond Pesticides advocates for full disclosure of inert ingredients. By ending the secrecy about inert ingredients in pesticides, people will be able to make better decisions about how they manage pests in their homes and their communities.
CheckMate LBAM-F Ingredients: (E)-11-Tetradecen-1-yl acetate, (E,E)—9,11-Tetradecadien-1-yl-acetate, cross linked polyurea polymer, butylated hydroxytoluene, polyvinyl alcohol, tricaprylyl methyl ammonium chloride and sodium phosphate, ammonium phosphate, 1,2-benzisothiozoli-3-one, 2-hydroxyl-4-n-octyloxybenzophenone.