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From July 20, 2006                                                                                                        

California Pesticide Agency May Restrict Use Of Synthetic Pyrethroids
(Beyond Pesticides, July 20, 2006) The California Pesticide Agency is conducting a review of synthetic pyrethroids in response to a report, published in 2004 by a University of California Berkeley scientist, which links use of synthetic pyrethroids to stream pollution. Donald Weston, an adjunct professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley, published the study which found that synthetic pyrethroids are wiping out crustaceans and aquatic insects that are vital to ecosystems.

As a result of concern around Professor Weston’s findings, the California Pesticide Agency is sending notices to the manufactures of approximately 600 pyrethroid products, informing them that the state is reevaluating their use. This process is expected to culminate in new regulations, and possibly even bans of some pesticide products in California. According to an article in the Lost Angeles Times, Mary-Ann Warmerdam, director of the state Department of Pesticide Regulation, stated, "We've got the caution flag out…This is a shot across the bow to the manufacturers that we found a reason for concern and you need to provide us with data to either eliminate the concern, reformulate your products or consider taking them off the market."

The use of synthetic pyrethroids, particularly in California, has increased significantly in the past few years. Originally developed as a safer alternative to organophosphates, synthetic pyrethroids are used for everything from lawn care and household insecticides, to mosquito control and agriculture. The Los Angeles Times reports, “Use of pyrethroids by California farmers and exterminators has nearly tripled, growing from about 420,000 pounds in 1999 to 1.1 million pounds in 2004. Consumers' retail sales are not included in those numbers but state officials say their usage probably doubles that volume.”

TAKE ACTION: EPA is currently taking public comments on the reregistration eligibility of permethrin (Daily News July 14, 2006), a commonly used synthetic pyrethroid. Learn more about permethrin and how to submit comments here. Also, email your opinion to Stephen Johnson, administrator of the EPA.