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Federal Government Fails to Protect People and Salmon from Carbaryl
(Beyond Pesticides, May 13, 2005) A new analysis of urban pesticide sales and stream contamination in the Northwest revealed a shocking increase in the toxic insecticide carbaryl. After the phaseout of the lawn insecticides diazinon and chlorpyrifos, carbaryl sales increased by more than tenfold. Levels of carbaryl in salmon streams also showed a significant increase. These results are presented in a report, Toxic Tradeoff, to be released today by the Clean Water for Salmon Campaign.
Like diazinon and chlorpyrifos, carbaryl is toxic to the nervous system. According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) it is a likely carcinogen. When it pollutes streams, it can harm salmon directly and, is highly toxic to animals that are food for salmon.
"Banning urban uses of Dursban and diazinon was a good thing for people and fish, but we're chasing our tails when people just move to another toxic pesticide," said Philip Dickey, staff scientist with the Washington Toxics Coalition and co-author of Toxic Tradeoff. "Our analysis shows that when more chemicals are used, more wash off into our salmon streams. Carbaryl is an increasing threat in urban streams in the Northwest."
Carbaryl is currently under scrutiny by federal regulators and wildlife agencies. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now considering whether to keep carbaryl on the market, or restrict its uses. The agency is responding to a petition by farm worker, beekeeper, and environmental organizations to ban all uses of carbaryl. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service commented earlier this year that the limited restrictions EPA has already proposed will not be enough to protect fish and wildlife.
The EPA is also revisiting its assessments of whether carbaryl and other pesticides harm threatened salmon, as part of a pledge to improve its scientific methods. EPA has been reprimanded by wildlife agencies for using outdated and inadequate science to assess the impacts of pesticides on endangered species.
"Pesticides don't stay put. What we put on our lawns washes into our streams," said Aimee Code of the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP). "Current federal regulation of pesticides is not keeping our waters safe. We can clean up our waters and keep our yards beautiful by using healthy and effective lawn care techniques."
NCAP suggests that Northwest residents grow a healthy lawn without pesticides by mowing regularly with a mulching mower, fertilizing with an organic or slow release fertilizer, and aerating and over seeding the lawn.
TAKE ACTION: Tell EPA to Ban the Toxic Insecticide Carbaryl! The use of the toxic insecticide carbaryl appears to be on the rise in the Northwest, and it is polluting our precious salmon streams. In January, farmworker, environmental, public health, and other groups petitioned EPA to ban the toxic pesticide carbaryl. Now, EPA is seeking public comment until May 31 on whether carbaryl should be banned. Send an electronic letter to EPA.
For information on taking care of your lawn without toxic pesticides or fertilizers or information on how to make your child’s sports fields safer, visit Beyond Pesticides Lawns and Landscapes page or contact Beyond Pesticides at 202-543-5450.