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From March 25, 2005

Illinois State Legislature Considers Lindane Ban
(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2005) State Representative Dan Burke (D-Chicago) has introduced House Bill 1362 that bans the use of Lindane, a toxic pesticide contained in many lice shampoos and lotions. Lindane causes harmful neurological effects in people, and has been reported to cause seizures, tremors, memory impairment, irritability, and aggression in children following exposure to Lindane. Lindane has also been found in the Great Lakes.

California has already banned this chemical, and a bill asking for a ban on Lindane has been re-introduced to New York State Assembly. In March 2003, the FDA issued a public health advisory regarding the topical uses of Lindane, required labeling of products containing Lindane to have additional warnings, and that a Medication Guide be distributed directly to patients. We believe that these protections are inadequate, and that Illinois should follow in the footsteps of California and New York and ban Lindane.

Lindane is an organochlorine pesticide, in the same chemical class as DDT. A single treatment of lindane pollutes 6 million gallons of water, and that lindane has been shown to damage the liver, kidney, nervous and immune systems of laboratory animals. It adds that there are more effective and less toxic ways available for the control of head lice. Also included is reference to lindane as a man-made pesticide that has been categorized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic pollutant, meaning that it lingers for a long period in the environment, moves up the food chain and is highly toxic to humans and wildlife.

In August 2004, Beyond Pesticides along with other environmental and public health organizations sent a letter to EPA calling for the rapid elimination of pharmaceutical, veterinary, and agricultural uses of the pesticide lindane throughout North America. The letter encouraged EPA to ban these uses when it meets with Canada and Mexico to develop a North American Regional Action Plan (NARAP) on lindane. Other co-signers included Natural Resources Defense Council, Department of Planet Earth, Washington Toxics Coalition, Pesticide Action Network North America, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, and Montana Coalition for Health, Environmental and Economic Rights. EPA did not respond.

For alternatives to lindane, see Beyond Pesticides factsheet on lice and scabies control.

Take Action: SPCP encourages Illinois residents to contact their State Representative and urge them to support House Bill 1362. Visit http://www.elections.state.il.us/dls/pages/DLSAddresscrit.asp to find your representative’s contact information, or http://www.elections.state.il.us/ for the Illinois State Board of Elections home page.