WASHINGTON (CNI)--The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Thursday that Dow AgroSciences has agreed to eliminate virtually all home and garden uses of Dursban (chlorpyrifos), the most widely used household pesticide in the US.
Under the agreement, Indianapolis, Indiana-based Dow AgroSciences will halt the manufacture of chlorpyrifos for nearly all residential uses by December this year.
The deal requires that virtually all of those residential uses be deleted from existing product labels prior to that time, including uses for home and garden sprays, and applications in the control of termites in houses.
The agreement also mandates that all uses will be phased out this year in areas where children could be exposed, including schools, day care centres, parks, reaction areas, hospitals, nursing homes, stores and malls.
By the end of 2001, uses to control termites in buildings other than homes or areas where children could be exposed will be phased-out as well. by the end of 2004, the termiticide use on new construction also will be phased out unless new information becomes available which show that this application could safely continue.
The agreement also calls for cancelling or significantly lowering allowable residues of chlorpyrifos on several foods regularly eaten by children, such as tomatoes, apples and grapes.
Under the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), EPA is conducting a systematic review of all existing pesticides to ensure they meet the law's tough new safety standards that, for the first time, must be protective of children, who are among the most vulnerable to adverse health effects from pesticide residues.
EPA administrator Carol Browner said at today's news conference announcing the Dow deal: "Now that we have completed the most extensive scientific evaluation ever conducted on the potential health hazards from a pesticide, it is clear the time has come to take action to protect our children from exposure to this chemical."
Browner said the restrictions, which apply only to the US sale and use of chlorpyrifos, will result in a 4500 tonne reduction in the manufacture of chlorpyrifos.
Dow AgroSciences vice president Elin Miller said the company accepted the agreement because the FQPA has "fundamentally changed" the way in which pesticides are regulated in the US.
"Unfortunately, we found that continued efforts to retain certain uses of chlorpyrifos in the US no linger made business sense in the current regulatory environment," said Miller. "Under these new circumstances, we found we had to make some very difficult decisions."
Although the rules have changed, Miller said, "the safety of chlorpyrifos hasn't." He added: "We ultimately felt we had to reach an agreement with EPA for the use of these products in the US, but this does not change our conviction in the safety of chlorpyrifos for all labelled uses."