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Archive for the 'sulfuryl fluoride' Category


Unregulated Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Potent Pesticide Impact Climate Crisis and Public Health

(Beyond Pesticides, May 2, 2024) In the midst of a climate crisis and a lack of government recording of atmospheric measurements of sulfuryl fluoride (SO2F2), a study of the estimated emissions of sulfuryl fluoride throughout the U.S. shows elevated levels being released in California. The study, performed by researchers from Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, University of California’s Scripps Institute of Oceanography, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Global Monitoring Laboratory, uses measurements from the NOAA Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network and a geostatistical inverse model. Sulfuryl fluoride is a fluoride compound and pesticide used primarily for the extermination of drywood termites and beetles—linked to increased greenhouse gas emissions and having acute exposure consequences—with little data collected or reported on the amount of sulfuryl fluoride being used and released into the atmosphere. There is a long history of limited protections for the public centered around sulfuryl fluoride, with regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not addressing both dietary and nondietary exposure to fluoride compounds and the body burden this creates. With the dismissal of aggregate risk exposure, public health and safety and environmental sustainability are not prioritized. Organic alternatives have been left out of the conversation, […]



Deaths from Building Fumigation Raise Long-standing Health Concerns, Calls for Ban and Adoption of Alternatives

(Beyond Pesticides, June 28, 2023) An autopsy report from the Broward County Medical Examiner’s office in Florida found that acute exposure to the fumigant sulfuryl fluoride resulted in the death of two pest control workers from Pompano Beach. After the fumigation of a Pompano Beach warehouse in April, three workers fell ill, and two died after pesticide application. The highly toxic chemical can be used by the chemical pest control industry for killing termites, powder post beetles, old house borers, bedbugs, carpet beetles, moths, cockroaches, rats, and mice. In addition to being highly acutely toxic, sulfuryl fluoride, as a fluoride compound, can cause various chronic adverse health effects, including cancer, endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity (reduced IQ), and reproductive damage. This case represents the broader issue of how toxic chemical compounds can enter the body, causing physiological damage. In fact, just last March 2023, a case report article published in Frontier in Public Health confirms one of the first reported deaths from inhalation of the fumigant 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D or Telone) during work, resulting in acute renal (kidney) failure, hyperkalemia (high potassium levels in the blood), and brain edema (swelling). Considering over 300 environmental contaminants and their byproducts, including pesticides, are chemicals commonly present in human blood and urine samples, toxicity risk increases when entering the […]



California Petition Seeks Removal of Hazardous Fumigant Linked to Climate Crisis

(Beyond Pesticides, November 3, 2022) In a fight against global warming, environmental groups Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR) filed a formal legal petition in October 2022 urging the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to phase out the use of sulfuryl fluoride insecticides. Sulfuryl fluoride is a fluoride compound with various adverse health effects, including cancer, endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity (reduced IQ), and reproductive damage. CARB added sulfuryl fluoride to its list of “short-lived climate pollutants,” being the only state to do so since 1990. However, California does not include sulfuryl fluoride in the list of GHG emissions to reduce by 2020 as researchers were unaware the chemical was a greenhouse gas (GHG) until 2008. These termite and food use insecticides are 4,800 times more potent GHG than carbon dioxide at trapping carbon in the atmosphere. Furthermore, sulfuryl fluoride has high global warming potential and can remain in the atmosphere for more than 36 years. The case of sulfuryl fluoride presents an all too familiar pattern of widespread chemical use without proper knowledge of health and environmental effects before implementation and a failure to take regulatory action on known hazards after allowed in commerce. Therefore, CBD’s […]



Common Home Fumigation Pesticide Associated with Increased Greenhouse Gas Emissions

(Beyond Pesticides, January 11, 2022) A study finds that the pesticide sulfuryl fluoride, used for insect (i.e., termites, bedbugs, cockroaches, etc.) fumigation treatments, increases greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the report, “Termite Fumigation in California Is Fueling the Rise of a Rare Greenhouse Gas.” Not only do most sulfuryl fluoride emissions in the U.S. occur in California, but a majority of global emissions also occur in California. When the use of methyl bromide for agricultural and structural fumigation was phased-out under the Montreal Protocol, sulfuryl fluoride became a replacement for fumigation treatments. However, researchers have identified concentrations of sulfuryl fluoride in the atmosphere due to the chemical’s long half-life and greenhouse warming potential (GWP). The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 does not list sulfuryl fluoride emissions as a GHG risk. Therefore, the researchers note, “This work emphasizes the importance of considering [sulfuryl fluoride] SO2F2 in state and national greenhouse gas inventories and emissions reduction strategies.” Researchers employed geostatistical inverse model (GIM)—commonly used to estimate GHG fluxes—alongside atmospheric measurements of sulfuryl fluoride to estimate emissions throughout the United States. Using programmable flask packages (PFPs), researchers examined atmospheric observational data from towers, observatories, and aircraft, measuring concentrations of sulfuryl fluoride via gas chromatography-mass […]



EPA To Investigate Pesticide Misuse in Hawaii by Terminix and Monsanto

(Beyond Pesticides, November 16, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently began an investigation of the agrochemical company Monsanto and home pest control giant Terminix for pesticide law violations in Hawaii. Scott Enright, director of the Hawaii State Department of Agriculture (HDOA), said that cases are often referred to EPA when they involve federal jurisdiction, repeat violations, or serious allegations. According to him, the Terminix case was referred to EPA because the complaint included multiple allegations, but he refused to share information about the details of the Monsanto case, citing policies against commenting on ongoing investigations. A third case against Wonder Farm has also been referred to EPA, making for a total of five pesticide-related cases in Hawaii the federal agency has worked on this year. The number of cases referred to EPA is not surprising, as Hawaii has long struggled to keep up with the demands of enforcing pesticide laws within the state. In the wake of these shortcomings, this past summer, Earthjustice sent a letter to EPA requesting that the agency notify the Hawaii State Department of Agriculture of its chronic failure to meet statutory duties for pesticides regulation and enforcement under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and […]



Ten-Year-Old Suffers Traumatic Brain Injury After Home Treated with Pesticide

(Beyond Pesticides September 9, 2015) A young Florida boy and his family are reeling after a routine termite treatment resulted in a devastating outcome. Ten-year-old Peyton McCaughey of Palm City, Florida has been in the hospital for weeks following a severe reaction to chemicals used to fumigate his family’s home. According to news reports, the  fumigation was performed by Sunland Pest Control, a subcontractor of Terminix. The Florida Department of Agriculture has since issued a “Stop Work Order” while it  investigates the company in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state Department of Health. After returning to their home hours after the Terminix subcontractor told them it was safe to enter, the whole family became very ill. While the parents and the 7-year-old daughter recovered, the young boy’s condition continued to worsen. “He was having some uncontrollable muscle movements, couldn’t stand up, couldn’t speak, so they took him to a local walk-in and the doctor quickly recognized it was probably poisoning from a treatment,” said Peyton’s uncle, Ed Gribben. Current reports indicate that the boy has likely suffered brain damage and has lost all muscle control, rendering him unable to stand or speak. He remains in a […]



Backdoor Farm Bill Amendment Orders EPA to Ignore Unsafe Levels of Fluoride in Kid’s Food

(Beyond Pesticides, January 30, 2014) With the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of the Agriculture Act of 2014 (commonly known as the Farm Bill) yesterday, conventional farming allies and chemical agribusiness dealt a dangerous blow to children’s health protections and offered up yet another reason for consumers everywhere to support organic. The behind-closed-door amendment to the Farm Bill that appeared in neither the pre-conference House or Senate-passed versions of the Bill available to the public, orders the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ignore its ruling that levels of fluoride left in food treated with the toxic fumigant sulfuryl fluoride are unsafe for consumers everywhere, especially children and infants. Looking at the Numbers Under the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), a law designed to provide stronger protections for infants and children from pesticides, EPA must consider the aggregate dose that children receive from pesticide residues along with the other “nonpesticidal” sources. In the case of sulfuryl fluoride, a fumigant used in closed structures such as barns, storage buildings, commercial warehouses, ships in port, and railroad cars and thus also found on their stored contents like grains and other crops, this is an important consideration because other sources of fluoride abound […]



Appropriations Bill Would Prohibit EPA’s Phase-Out of Sulfuryl Fluoride

(Beyond Pesticides, August 1, 2013) The House of Representatives Appropriations Interior and Environmental subcommittee voted Tuesday 7-4 to approve an appropriations bill that would cut the budget of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by nearly a third, and includes language that would prevent the agency from enforcing its decision to phase out the use of the neurotoxic fumigant sulfuryl fluoride in our food. The full Appropriations Committee began markups on Wednesday, and, if it passes it will move to a House vote. This is an outrageous attempt to circumvent a basic risk assessment calculation that EPA acknowledges puts the public at risk, given current exposure patterns, to a chemical that is especially hazardous to children. In response to this egregious attempt to stop EPA from doing its job, Beyond Pesticides, along with Environmental Working Group and Fluoride Action Network submitted a letter to the House Appropriation Committee Chairman and Ranking members: Dear Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey: On behalf of our members and supporters we urge you to strike section 449 from the House Fiscal Year 2014 Interior and Environment Appropriations Act. This section will prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from fulfilling its decision to phase-out sulfuryl […]



Take Action: House Bill Will Prohibit EPA Ban on Sulfuryl Fluoride

(Beyond Pesticides, July 26, 2013) Thousands of people from across the country took action last month to prevent Dow AgroSciences from using its influence to insert Farm Bill language that would allow the food uses of the pesticide sulfuryl fluoride to continue, despite a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal to phase it out. Dow’s latest attempt to keep this neurotoxic fumigant in our food is to defund EPA’s ability to regulate its use. Language inserted into the 2014 Interior and Environment House Appropriations Bill will prevent EPA from enforcing its previous decision to phase out the use of sulfuryl fluoride. Tell Your Representative Today: Remove Section 449 from the House Appropriations Bill. According to Section 449 on sulfuryl fluoride, none of the funds made available in the appropriations bill may be used by EPA “that in any way removes, withdraws, revokes, or stays tolerances for the pesticide chemical sulfuryl fluoride if that final order takes into consideration aggregate or cumulative exposure to other substances related to sulfuryl fluoride or its metabolites or degradates.” This will essentially prevent EPA from doing the job Congress assigned to the agency under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which requires that EPA […]



The 2013 Farm Bill: Act Now to Protect Pollinators, Our Food, and Your Health

(Beyond Pesticides, June 4, 2013)  We all know the problems we’re having with Congress these days, and all this turmoil comes together this week as the Senate returns to debate amendments to the 2013 Farm Bill.The country’s environmental and public health is under attack in the current bill — but at the same time there are some encouraging signs. The fate of these proposals will have a profound impact on the future of food in the United States, as well as the health of people and the broader environment. Beyond Pesticides has singled out several issues below that we urge you to act on today, before the Senate votes, in order to both maintain important safeguards for human and environmental health, advance organic, and develop critical protections for pollinators. Because these issues are complex, we are asking you to send separate letters on 5 key topics, which we’ve prepared with just 5 easy clicks! OPPOSE Senator Joe Donnelly’s (D-IN) amendment to the Farm Bill that will reverse our efforts to take the hazardous fumigant sulfuryl fluoride out of our food supply OPPOSE amendments SA 1100 and SA 1103 would remove commonsense protections from pesticide applications directly into our nation’s waterways […]



Industry Backed Legislation Directs EPA to Allow Hazardous Pesticide in Food

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2013) Dow AgroSciences, one of the nation’s largest pesticide makers, along with various food companies, have persuaded several members of Congress to endorse a bill that directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reverse a proposed phase out of sulfuryl fluoride, a highly toxic food fumigant and potent greenhouse gas. If passed, the bill would make the U.S. one of only two western nations to allow sulfuryl fluoride on food, increase the number of American children ingesting unsafe levels of fluoride, and create a food poisoning risk for consumers who  purchase food that contains permissible levels of the fumigant. The  Pest Free Food Supply Act, H.R. 1496, sponsored by Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) and 14 others, seeks to prevent the proposed  phase out  of sulfuryl fluoride from taking effect. The phase out, which EPA proposed in January 2011, was prompted by a  joint petition from the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Beyond Pesticides. In seeking to prevent the phase out from taking effect, the bill’s sponsors have adopted Dow’s widely discredited talking points on the safety and necessity of sulfuryl fluoride fumigation. The public should know: Ӣ Of the few western nations […]



EPA Reevaluating Its Commitment to Phase Out Toxic Fumigant

(Beyond Pesticides, May 14, 2012) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting public comment on several complex regulatory issues related to the agency’s commitment to phase out the toxic fumigant sulfuryl fluoride. At one time EPA had supported sulfuryl fluoride as a replacement for a second fumigant, methyl bromide, which the United States is obligated under international treaty to eliminate due to its contribution to ozone depletion. However, EPA reversed that support once further research and a refined risk assessment established that aggregate exposure to sulfuryl fluoride does not adequately protect the health of certain population subgroups. Although EPA decided unequivocally in 2011 to phase out all food-related uses for sulfuryl fluoride, the current public comment opportunity revisits key elements of that decision and could open the door for an unwarranted and unnecessary extension of this toxic fumigant’s allowance. Initially registered in 1959 to kill termites and other wood-boring pests, sulfuryl fluoride gained attention as a potential alternative to methyl bromide as a broad spectrum insect fumigant in post-harvest commodity storage and food processing facilities. The need for such alternatives became more pressing as the U.S., a signatory of the Montreal Protocol, gradually reduced the amount of methyl bromide […]



Will Sulfuryl Fluoride Phase-Out Shift Market Away from Toxic Fumigants?

(Beyond Pesticides, July 12, 2011) Following the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) denial of Dow AgroSciences’ request for an administrative hearing to keep sulfuryl fluoride on the market, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sent a letter to the agency on June 29, 2011 opposing EPA’s phase-out of the toxic fumigant pesticide, which is marketed as a substitute for the outdated, ozone-depleting methyl bromide. According to its letter, the environmental group believes that the “proposed action will imperil EPA’s ability to complete the long-overdue phase-out of methyl bromide, leading to prolonged and increased depletion of the ozone layer, higher levels of ultraviolet radiation, and higher risks of cancer, cataracts, and immunological disorders.” Under pressure from a 2006 petition submitted by Fluoride Action Network (FAN), Beyond Pesticides, and Environmental Working Group (EWG), EPA announced its plan to cancel all allowable pesticide residue levels (tolerances) for sulfuryl fluoride over three years, effectively banning its use in January 2014. The agency found that when residues on food products are combined with fluoridated drinking water and toothpaste, aggregate exposure levels are too high. Beyond Pesticides has repeatedly pointed to non-toxic practices that have eliminated the need for either hazardous fumigant throughout the process. Manufactured by […]



Dow Seeks To Overturn EPA Ban of Toxic Fluoride-Based Pesticide

(Beyond Pesticides, March 15, 2011) Following the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) January 10th announcement that it plans to cancel all allowable pesticide residue levels (tolerances) of the toxic fumigant sulfuryl fluoride–effectively banning its use, the chemical’s manufacturer, Dow AgroSciences, is petitioning EPA to launch a formal registration cancellation hearing under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). EPA decided to cancel the tolerances under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) after determining that when residues on food products are combined with fluoridated drinking water and toothpaste, public exposure levels are too high. The agency took the action in response to a June 2006 petition submitted by Fluoride Action Network, Beyond Pesticides, and Environmental Working Group. Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 (FQPA) amendments to FFDCA require that a pesticide registered for use by EPA cannot exceed acceptable risk thresholds when its dietary and nondietary uses are evaluated in the aggregate. Environmentalists believe that the January 2011 sulfuryl fluoride decision was the first time EPA action has resulted in a comprehensive pesticide cancellation of agricultural uses (as distinct from a voluntary cancellation by the manufacturer) because of unacceptable aggregate exposure. While cancellation hearings are not provided under […]



EPA Responds to Petition, Proposes Elimination of Toxic Fumigant

(Beyond Pesticides, January, 11, 2011) Responding to a June 2006 petition submitted by Fluoride Action Network, Beyond Pesticides, and Environmental Working Group, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it proposes to eliminate the use of the toxic fumigant sulfuryl fluoride in agriculture and food related applications. The agency plans to cancel all allowable pesticide residue levels (tolerances) for the chemical, finding that, when residues on food products are combined with fluoridated drinking water and toothpaste, public exposure levels are too high. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), EPA is required to ensure that pesticides it has registered for use cannot combine with non-food sources of the same substance to result in unsafe levels of exposure for that chemical. According to EPA officials, the decision appears to be the first time the agency has granted substantive formal objections to a pesticide tolerance rule based on public health advocates’ evidence that a particular chemical’s use violates the safety standard for aggregate exposures under federal law. Despite granting the petition’s assertion that total public exposure to fluoride is too high, EPA has denied the petition’s request for an immediate stay of all registered uses of sulfuryl fluoride. […]



And the “Toxie” Goes to…

(Beyond Pesticides, March 12, 2010) Over 40 million Americans watched Sandra Bullock and Jeff Bridges win the best actress and actor Oscars at the 82nd Academy Awards last Sunday. On Wednesday March 3rd, Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy (CHANGE) recognized the year’s bad actors, bad chemical actors that is, at the first ever “Toxies.” CHANGE is a coalition of environmental, policy, labor, interfaith and other organizations working to regulate toxic chemicals in the state of California. Held at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, the Red Carpet Event featured actors in character as various harmful chemicals. Toxies were awarded to the pesticides Triclosan and Methyl Iodide. The tongue-in-cheek award show was intended to bring awareness to the harmful effect that these chemicals have on human health and the environment. The timing coincides not only with the awards show season, but with the anticipated release of the final draft of regulations for California’s Green Chemistry Programs. The awards ceremony and accompanying report awarded Toxies to 16 bad chemical actors. The “winners” all affect human health and all have safer alternatives. The 2010 Toxie winners are: Worst Breakthrough Performance: Bisphenol A (BPA) Found in plastics BPA has been linked to breast […]



Citing Greenhouse Gas Effects, Groups Ask EPA to Deny More Sulfuryl Fluoride Use

(Beyond Pesticides, July 20, 2009) Public health and environmental advocates have asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to deny a request from Dow AgroSciences for a permit allowing it to release large amounts of sulfuryl fluoride, a toxic pesticide whose global warming effects are thousands of times stronger than carbon dioxide, onto farm fields in four states. Dow AgroSciences proposes using sulfuryl fluoride to sterilize soil in farm fields. The permit would allow the release of 32,435 pounds of sulfuryl fluoride on 65 acres of test plots in Florida, Georgia, Texas, and California. Yet, researchers have found that sulfuryl fluoride stays in the atmosphere at least 30-40 years and perhaps as long as 100 years and is about 4,000 times more efficient than carbon dioxide at trapping heat. Because of the aggregate effects of surfuryl fluoride, Beyond Pesticides jonined Fluroide Action Network and Envirornmental Working Group in petitioning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to cancel the registration of the chemical due to dangerous levels in food and water. “The hazards of using sulfuryl fluoride in agriculture have not been evaluated,” said Brian Hill, Ph.D., a staff scientist at the Pesticide Action Network. Releasing just 10 percent of the […]



California Allows More Emissions From Fumigants

(Beyond Pesticides, April 24, 2009) The California Department of Pesticide Regulation this week finalized looser pesticide rules that will allow more emissions from soil fumigant pesticides. Environmental activists are alarmed that this new ruling will only serve to slow efforts to clean the smoggy air in California’s Central Valley. This regulatory action revises the total pesticide emission benchmarks in the Sacramento Metro, San Joaquin Valley, South Coast, Southeast Desert, and Ventura areas. The ruling is a victory for chemical-intensive farmers, who fear that stricter limits would force some growers to stop using pesticides. Pesticides, especially soil fumigants, which are injected into soil to kill pests by releasing toxic gases, contribute to about 6% of the smog problem in the Valley, according to state figures. According to the state’s Department of Pesticides Regulation, the looser limit will still “meet our obligation to reduce pesticide emissions, but do so in a way that avoids placing an unreasonable or disproportionate burden on fumigant pesticide users.” For the San Joaquin Valley for example, the rule sets the emissions limit at 18.1 tons per day, 2.1 tons higher than what activists wanted. The regulations cover the prime growing season of May 1 though October 31 […]



Termite Insecticide a More Potent Greenhouse Gas than Carbon Dioxide

(Beyond Pesticides, January 26, 2009) University of California at Irvine researchers have discovered that sulfuryl fluoride, an insecticide widely used to fumigate termite-infested homes and buildings, stays in the atmosphere at least 30-40 years and perhaps as long as 100 years and is about 4,000 times more efficient than carbon dioxide at trapping heat, though much less of it exists in the atmosphere. This raises concerns as levels have nearly doubled in just the last six years. Prior studies estimated its atmospheric lifetime at as low as five years, grossly underestimating the global warming potential. “Sulfuryl fluoride has a long enough lifetime in the atmosphere that we cannot just close our eyes,” said Mads Sulbaek Andersen, a postdoctoral researcher in the Rowland-Blake laboratory and lead author of the study. “The level in the atmosphere is rising fast, and it doesn’t seem to disappear very quickly.” Its climate impact in California each year equals that of carbon dioxide emitted from about one million vehicles. About 60 percent of the world’s sulfuryl fluoride use occurs in California. The insecticide is pumped into a tent that covers a termite-infested structure. When the tent is removed, the compound escapes into the atmosphere. Sulfuryl fluoride […]