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From June 11, 2002

EPA Says Only Two of 30 Organophosphates Dangerous in Combination

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Monday, after reviewing the safety of one organophosphates, that only two of the 30 pose unreasonable health risks by acting together as cumulative poisons.

According to EPA Assistant Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, who oversees the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, two organophosphorus pesticides, dichlorvos and DDVP, used in pest strips in homes, and Dimethoate, sprayed on dozens of fruits and vegetables, could pose health risks to the nervous system, causing headaches, nausea, weakness or even death. Mr. Johnson said the findings were issued just hours after the U.S. court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Monday rejected the third industry attempt to bar them from being made public.

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a New York-based environmental group whose lawsuit prompted the review, said the EPA had ignored some of the biggest health risks from the chemicals and failed to adequately consider all of the health threats to children.

14 of 49 organophosphates have been or will be taken off the market as a result of EPA's ongoing review. For five of the remaining 35, EPA contends there is so little risk of exposure that the pesticides don't need to be considered for cumulative risks.

NRDC says EPA neglected to take into account, for these five pesticides and for the other 30 organophosphates, non-dietary routes of exposure, such as airborne drifts from spraying and the 1 million farm kids' frequent contact with them.

"When all the facts come in, it will become clear that EPA must take much more aggressive action against these poisons in order to protect America's children," said Eric D. Olson, and NRDC senior attorney in Washington. "Kids are exposed more and are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of organophosphates."

For more information, contact Beyond Pesticides.