Daily News Archive
From October 14, 2005                                                                                                           

Public Comment Sought on Draft Action Plan for Lindane
(Beyond Pesticides, October 14, 2005)
On October 5, 2005, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) released for public comment a draft action plan to reduce or eliminate the use of lindane in North America within 10 years. The public comment period closes November 4, 2005. Under the plan, Mexico will phase-out all uses of lindane, both agricultural and pharmaceutical, and Canada will assess its one remaining pharmaceutical use. The U.S. plans to continue to allow both its pharmaceutical and agricultural uses.

Lindane is a toxic chemical used as an agricultural and veterinary insecticide and also used as a pharmaceutical for treatment of lice and scabies in humans. This wide-ranging, persistent, organic pollutant which accumulates in living organisms has been widely used for decades and is associated with skin irritation and nausea. It can even cause convulsions and death with high levels of acute exposure.

Lindane is already banned in at least 52 countries and severely restricted in more than 33 others. The draft North American Regional Action Plan (NARAP) on Lindane and other Hexachlorocyclohexane Isomers addresses exposure risks through a variety of national regulatory and management actions, outreach and education efforts, science and research, capacity building, and collaborative cross-border activities.

Specifically, Canada agrees to assess and manage the risks from its sole remaining use of lindane as a pharmaceutical drug. Mexico agrees to eliminate all agricultural, veterinary, and pharmaceutical uses of lindane through a prioritized, phase-out approach. The U.S. is reviewing the six remaining agricultural seed treatment uses. The U.S. will complete this re-evaluation by August 2006 and will also work with pharmaceutical companies to develop alternatives for lice and scabies use.

However, promises to re-evaluate lindane and work with industry on alternatives are not enough for environmentalists who believe the U.S. should be doing more. When the U.S. first announced its plan to retain uses a year ago, representatives on the Task Force were enraged. “The U.S. position allowing continued use of lindane is downright shameful,” said Pam Miller, the official Non- Governmental Organization (NGO) representative on the task force and Executive Director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics. “The U.S. should take a lead role in getting rid of this old and dangerous chemical, not lag behind the rest of the world.”

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 met with Canada and Mexico to develop a 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.

TAKE ACTION: The public comment period for the draft NARAP ends November 4, 2005. Tell EPA, FDA and CEC that the American public supports the full cancellation and phase-out of all Lindane products, both agricultural and pharmaceutical. The full text of the document is available on the CEC wesite.