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Daily News Archive
From December 21, 2004

EPA Misleads Public on Deal to Lift Ban on Dow Termite Pesticide,
The Human Experiment Should Stop, Says Beyond Pesticides
(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2004)
The director of the EPA's office of pesticide programs, Jim Jones, is contradicting a Dow Chemical Company spokesman, who says that the company struck a deal with the agency to lift the phase-out of the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos, due to take effect December 31. Dow told the news media yesterday that it had already worked out a detailed deal with EPA that would allow it to continue to produce and sell Dursban while it conducted and reviewed home air monitoring studies over the next three years.

Meanwhile, after interviewing Mr. Jones, the Washington Post reported today, "[T]he agency still expects Dow to cease selling Durban for home construction on Dec. 31. . .but he added that the administration will review the company's petition over the next month and a half to judge whether Dow will be allowed to resume marketing the pesticide for new homes." Earlier in the day yesterday before Mr. Jones spoke with the Post, an EPA spokeswoman, Enesta Jones, told Scripps Howard News Service that the agency is "still in talks with Dow" and "nothing has been finalized."

"It appears that the official leading EPA's pesticide programs is misleading the public on a matter of public health protection, hoping that it will be able to reverse a 4 ½ year old agreement to stop home termite use of Dursban without media attention and full public disclosure," said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. "We are concerned about children's continuing exposure to low levels of Dursban because of its developmental and neurological effects."

"EPA struck a deal to remove this chemical from the termite control market because of concerns that the chemical moves through home foundations into the indoor ambient air. The agency should not continue this human experiment any longer," said Mr. Feldman. "If EPA wants more studies, they should not be conducted while human exposure continues," he added.

A 2000 square foot home requires that 380 gallons of pesticide be pumped into the ground. A 100-home subdivision uses about 38 thousand gallons. Pre-construction termiticide use is estimated at 400 million gallons.

As an alternative approach, borates can be applied directly to wood during the dried-in phase of construction, saving the builder time and money and providing termite protection for as long as the wood is in service. Borate-based products exhibit low toxic exposure to humans and other mammals. Other alternatives include steel mesh barriers and steel termite shields under and around foundations.

TAKE ACTION: Contact EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt and EPA Acting Director Jim Jones, EPA Office of Pesticide Programs, and tell them to enforce the agreement it reached with Dow to stop production and use of chlorpyrifos, stop the human experimentation on occupied homes, disclose any petitions from Dow to the agency and pending agreements with Dow on this matter, and subject any future action to a 60-day public comment period before altering in any way the original phase-out agreement. See Washington Post and Scripps Howard stories.