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Daily News Archive
From December 6, 2001

Chlorine Dioxide Approved for Anthrax Cleanup Under "Emergency Conditions" Clause

Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not registered any pesticides for anthrax decontamination. Since anthrax was detected in letters mailed to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), the EPA has used special provisions in the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to approve chlorine dioxide for use in killing anthrax spores.

Under FIFRA, in "emergency conditions," EPA can allow a new use of a previously registered pesticide or use of an unregistered pesticide if the agency has enough data to make a finding that it probably would be safe.

At a hearing on December 4, several senators including Environment Committee Chairman James Jeffords (I-VT), expressed concerns to EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman about the anthrax contamination and disinfection process. "After all, we are the test case," Mr. Jeffords told the Associated Press (AP). "No prior attempt has ever been made to remediate a biologically contaminated building."

Dr. Patrick Meehan, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) director of emergency and environmental health services, admits that chlorine dioxide fumigation is potentially hazardous to the cleanup workers, he believes that it is the best way to decontaminate an infected area. Although he told the AP, "It is unlikely that any cleaning strategy will kill every spore."