On January 10, 2005, NRDC petitioned EPA to cancel both agriculture and residential uses of carbaryl. Today, October 29, 2008, EPA finally published in the Federal Register its response to our petition. Unfortunately, its decision is to deny our petition, and thereby allow continued use of this dangerous pesticide.
Carbaryl, trade name 'Sevin', is a broad-spectrum insecticide used on pets, lawns, and gardens as well as agriculture crops that include apples, pecans, grapes, alfalfa, oranges, and corn. About 3.9 million pounds of carbaryl are used annually in the U.S., with about half for agriculture and half for non-agriculture uses.
Carbaryl is classified by EPA as a likely carcinogen, and according to EPA's own fact sheets, "carbaryl can cause cholinesterase inhibition in humans; that is, it can overstimulate the nervous system causing nausea, dizziness, confusion, and at high exposures, respiratory paralysis, and death."
After over two years hearing nothing from EPA, we sued them for unreasonable delay on February 28, 2007. As terms of the settlement, EPA was to respond to NRDC's petition by September 30, 2008.
In our petition, filed almost four years ago, we raised a number of serious concerns with this pesticide. The following major concerns fell on deaf ears with EPA decision-makers:
The EPA assessment found that normal agriculture use of carbaryl would lead to unsafe contamination of rivers and streams (surface water), according to screening-level modeling estimates. EPA ignored its own model predictions, writing that actual water contamination was "likely to be much lower", but failed to present any scientific evidence to support this statement.
We asked that EPA cancel uses of carbaryl in pet flea collars because of the high exposures to children from sleeping and playing with pets. And, less toxic or even non-toxic alternatives are available for these uses.
We also raised serious concerns about how toxic carbaryl is to bees and other pollinators. Our petition said, "Protection of pollinators and other beneficial insects should be the highest priority of the EPA, as without them crops would not produce harvests and wild plant communities would decline." In addition, we noted that there are no data on long-term exposure to bees, despite our repeated request that EPA gather such information. Although EPA is fully cognizant of the terrible repercussions of Colony Collapse Disorder it continues to register pesticides that are toxic to honeybees.
EPA, don't deny the science, and don't ignore your agency staff experts. Cancel carbaryl and other highly toxic pesticides, and protect our families and environment from continued harm.
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