US Acts to ban home pesticide Dursban
WASHINGTON: The federal government on Thursday banned most home uses of the pesticide Dursban - the most widely used pesticide in the nation found in some 20 millionm homes - due to the neurological health risks including blurred vision and memory loss. The ban is part of an ongoing effort to implement the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, which requires a systematic government review of all pesticides to ensure they meet tighter standards with the goal of protecting children foremost.
EPA administrator Carol Browner said the action followed a scientific review which showed health risks to children, who are more likely to come into contact with the pesticide at homes and schools and by eating foods like grapes and apples.
"In terms of how best to go about protecting our children, this was the fastest possible way for us to get the kind of (swift) reduction in the manufacturing" of Dursban, Browner told reporters.
"We are getting a 10 millon pound recustion in the manufacturing of this pesticide by the end of this year."
EPA said blurred vision, muscle weakness, headaches and memory loss have been linked to exposure to larger amounts of Dursban leading to the restrictions announced on Thurday.
Browner said new, safer alternatives can replace Dursban.
Dursban kills pests
It is also a powerful weapon against termites and cockroaches, and is used in pet collars to kill ticks. The announcement by the EPA came in after an agreement was signed with the product's manufacturer, Dow AgroSciences and other makers of related products late in Wednesday.
The deal is part of an action against the chlorpyrifos class of chemicals, in which Dursban and Lorsban belong.
Browner said the agency decided to work out such an agreement instead of banning the product and ordering the immediate removal Dursban from store shelves - a legal and regulatory process which could have taken five to six years.
Dow says product is safe simply meeting regulations
"We ultimately felt that we had to reach an agreement with EPA for the use of these products in the US, but this does not change our conviction in the safety of chlorpyrifos for all labelled uses." said Ellen Miller, vice president of the Dow Agrosciences urban pest business.
The EPA ban will virtually eliminate home, lawn and garden uses by the end of the year and all termite-control uses in existing homes by the end of the year.