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Daily News Archive
From October 26, 2005                                                                                                           

Judge Orders Lawn Pesticide Retailers To Warn Consumers in the West
(Beyond Pesticides, October 26, 2005)
In a follow up ruling, a federal judge in Seattle, WA ordered pesticide retailers, distributors and wholesalers to post warning labels alongside seven lawn pesticides in Washington, Oregon and California.

In a follow up to his January 2004 ruling that protects salmon in the Northwest under the Endangered Species Act from pesticides not properly reviewed by the EPA for their potential to harm endangered species, Judge John Coughenour of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the EPA to send letters to pesticide retailers that specifies their responsibility to notify consumers about the dangers the pesticides pose to salmon in the area. The judge agreed with the plaintiff, Washington Toxics, that it was not enough for the EPA to just post the requirements in the Federal Register.

“’This is good news for salmon,’” Patti Goldman of Earthjustice told an Associated Press reporter. “’Consumers will have the information in the store to make informed choices to protect salmon from pesticides.’”

The seven pesticides in this case are among 38 others that EPA has been ordered to review. Until that time, the pesticides are banned from use near streams in all three states. (See Daily News story.)

Aside from having hazards to salmon and other aquatic species, the seven lawn pesticides the Judge required to have warnings posted also have other hazardous characteristics:

2,4-D

The number one most commonly used herbicide in the home and garden sector and number two in all sectors of the U.S. Most popular residential use is likely from “weed and feed” products known for their promotion of overapplication. Found by the U.S. Geological Survey to be the most frequently detected contaminant in streams and ground water throughout the country from urban and suburban home and garden use. Studies link 2,4-D to cancer (including in dogs), reproductive problems, endocrine disruption, liver/kidney damage and birth defects.

Diazinon

Formerly the most widely used insecticides in the lawn and garden sector until its residential phase-out in 2000 due to high toxicity to children, wildlife and the environment. Use of personal stockpiles are still permitted. Use on golf courses was canceled after hundreds of bird kills involving more than 23 species were reported from around the country. Roughly 70% of 2001 agricultural uses remain.

Carbaryl

Among the top 10 most heavily used pesticides in the home and garden sector and among the top three insecticides. Extremely toxic to bees and has been cited as a major contributor to the decline and shortage of pollinator populations in the U.S. Linked to cancer, reproductive problems, endocrine disruption, liver/kidney damage and birth defects.

Diuron

Of the 50 chemicals on EPA’s list of unregulated drinking water contaminants, several are lawn chemicals including herbicides diazinon, diuron, naphthalene, and various triazines such as atrazine. These pesticides do not have health-based standards set under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Classified as a known/likely carcinogen by EPA and linked to birth defects and liver/kidney damage.

Malathion

Among the top 10 most heavily used pesticides in the home and garden sector and among the top three insecticides. Malathion is a neurotoxin known for problems of acute toxicity and for causing hundreds to thousands of cases of pesticide poisoning due to inhalation. Commonly used in public mosquito spray programs despite outrage from the community. Can cause reproductive effects and liver/kidney damage.

Triclopyr BEE (butoxyethyl ester)

An herbicide registered for use on lawns, rangeland and pastures, forests and other non-crop areas. EPA cited potential harmful effects on fish, invertebrates, and aquatic plants as being a concern at the currently allowed application rates. The U.S. forestry service states that the use of triclopyr BEE in Forest Service programs may be a substantial source of residues in the environment. Studies link triclopyr to kidney and reproductive problems and heightened toxicity to dogs.

Trifluralin

Popular herbicide for use on lawns, flowers, shrubs, gardens and agriculture. Exposure occurs through breathing or touching application sites (such as lawns), by eating exposed fish, or drinking water. One of 30 persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic chemicals listed in 2005 by EPA to promote voluntary hazardous waste minimization efforts. Ranked as one of the most hazardous compounds (worst 10%) to ecosystems and human health by Environmental Defense’s Scorecard. Classified as a possible carcinogen, reproductive problems, endocrine disruption, and liver/kidney damage.

For more information on the hazards of these and other lawn pesticides, see Beyond Pesticides factsheets: Health Hazards of 30 Commonly Used Lawn Pesticides and Environmental Hazards of 30 Commonly Used Lawn Pesticides, and other information available under the Lawns and Landscapes Program page.