Daily News Archive
From January 7, 2002

Fate of Lindane Near Decision

A joint Canadian-American scientific review of the chemical lindane is nearly complete, according to an official with Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). The review, originally to be completed by December 2000, should be completed within the first two or three months of 2002.

Crompton Corporation, a U.S. lindane manufacturer unhappy with the way in which the chemical was withdrawn from the market, has threatened the Canadian government with a $100 million lawsuit. The company complained that the scientific review of the product was not completed buy the original target date, violating a deal the company signed with PMRA when it agreed to stop selling lindane. In a document outlining its case against the Canadian government, Crompton said "there is no conclusive scientific evidence" that a ban on lindane is necessary to protect human health or the environment.

Lindane degrades slowly in the environment and accumulates in the fatty tissue of organisms at the top of the food chain. It is toxic to humans as well as pest insects, causing mild skin irritation, dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, convulsions, and death. Lindane and its isomers are found more often than any other organochlorine in the Arctic atmosphere and marine, terrestrial and freshwater environments.

Lindane has been widely used in Canada to treat canola seed for control of flea beetles. It was voluntarily de-registered by the manufacturers at the request of Canadian canola producers. Use of lindane-treated seed was to cease by July 2001. Marc Richard, PMRA spokesperson, said that the decision to voluntarily withdraw lindane was based solely on marketing considerations.

Though it is not on the initial list of 12 persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that are slated for global elimination under an international treaty, the European Union's committee on plant health voted in July 2001 to ban most uses of lindane in Europe. The ban covers all agricultural and gardening applications of lindane and will come into effect in 12-18 months.

Lindane has been banned in 35 countries and severely restricted in another 26.