Daily News Archive
From February 15, 2001

EPA Issues Misleading Notice to Retailers On Chlorpyrifos

EPA has issued a notice to retailers regarding the sale of pesticide products containing the organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos, often sold as Dursban. The notice is a follow-up to the June 8, 2000 EPA announcement on an agreement with the pesticide's manufacturers to phase out and eliminate some uses of chlorpyrifos, currently one of the most widely used insecticides in the United States. The agreement allows the over-the-counter sale of chlorpyrifos to continue, despite its known toxicity until December 31, 2001, and for other uses, like termite control, for years to come.

The EPA notice provides information for retailers to make decisions about purchasing stocks of these chlorpyrifos products and what to do with inventories remaining after December 31, 2001. However, many environmentalists are concerned that EPA's instructions on what retailers should tell customers about the safety of chlorpyrifos while it is still legal to sell to the public. According to the notice retailers are to tell customers that "Use of these (chlorpyrifos) products according to label directions does not pose an immediate hazard." Many feel that this statement gives the public a false sense of security.

A 1996 study of children exposed to chlorpyrifos in utero found extensive and unusual patterns of birth defects, including damage to the brain, nervous system, eyes ears palate, teeth, heart, feet and genitalia. Published literature and EPA documents have found similar effects. According to US News and World Report, since 1992, pesticide manufacturers have sent approximately 7,000 reports of chlorpyrifos-induced reactions to EPA. Like all organophosphates, chlorpyrifos is known to be neurotoxic.