A pesticide used to kill insects on farm fields across the United States has the OK of the federal government, but a coalition of farmworkers and environmentalists is suing to stop the use of the chemical. The Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of diazinon in the home in 2004, but continues to approve its use on farms.
Diazinon is derived from a World War II nerve gas developed by Nazi Germany, and according to the U.S. Geological Survey, it is used on fields and orchards growing lettuce and spinach, cranberries, tomatoes, potatoes and onions, tree fruit and nuts like peaches, plums, apples and almonds.
Consult this map to determine if the pesticide is used on fields near your home.
Earthjustice, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the coalition, calls the pesticide one of the most dangerous pesticides still used in the United States, and it criticized the Environmental Protection Agency for approving its continued use.
"EPA's system for protecting the public from the dangers of pesticides like diazinon is broken," said Joshua Osborne-Klein, an attorney for Earthjustice. "The agency should be protecting farmworkers and children, not the profits of pesticide manufacturers."
According to Earthjustice, farmworkers who are exposed to diazinon can suffer muscle spasms, confusion, dizziness, seizures, vomiting, and diarrhea. Severe exposures can cause coma and death. Exposure is also associated with damage to the liver and pancreas, diabetes, and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a cancer.
Diazinon can spread away from farms in the air, or in water. According to Earthjustice, it is "the most common insecticide detected in surface waters and is implicated in numerous bird and fish kills," including certain endangered species.
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