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India Bans Toxic Chemical, EPA to Require Restrictions In U.S.
(from August 22, 2002)

A high court in southern India recently reinstated a ban on the pesticide endosulfan. An unpublished report from the National Institute of Occupational Health led the country to grow concerned about villages being poisoned by this highly toxic chemical. The report was completed in March 2002, and showed that residues of the chemical were found in water samples from the villages 10 months after the pesticide was sprayed. Although the concentrations were lower than what EPA recommends as maximum residue levels, the population may be at an increased risk due to a continuous exposure to endosulfan over the past 20 years.

EPA classifies endosulfan has highly acutely hazardous. It is easily absorbed through a number of routes of exposure including skin, stomach and lungs. Long-term effects of this chemical are also a concern. Low levels of exposure may lead to immune system defects. Endosulfan has also been linked with testicular cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and defects in male sex organs.

Southern India's high court is following the lead of a number of other countries. Endosulfan is already banned in Belize and Singapore. It is severely restricted in Canada, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, Kuwait, Netherlands, the Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

EPA recently decided that endosulfan does require use limitations in the U.S. Because of risk of dietary exposure to children, its use will be cancelled on several crops including some beans and peas, grapes and squash. EPA will put further limitations on endosulfan use to mitigate exposure through drinking water. Water monitoring studies will take place over a number of years to confirm the results of these limitations.

For more information about endosulfan, please contact Beyond Pesticides.