Declaring that endosulfan is unsafe for humans and wildlife, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday that it is about to ban one of the last organochlorine pesticides still used in the United States. The human health effects of exposure aren't entirely clear, but tests on lab animals have shown that endosulfan is toxic to the nervous system and can damage the kidney, liver and male reproductive organs.
Endosulfan used largely on tomatoes, cucurbits (which include melons, cucumbers and squashes), potatoes, apples and cotton "poses unacceptable risks" to farm workers and wildlife, the EPA now says. Though EPA officials say the risks are low, traces of endosulfan are found on food crops. (Cucumbers, summer squash and green beans have the highest pesticide residue of endosulfan, according to government testing.)
"Finally," said Kristen Boyles, who handled a lawsuit for farm workers and environmental groups that prompted the decision. "Endosulfan should have been banned years ago. As this growing season enters full swing, we sincerely hope its the last one where this dangerous poison is let loose in our communities and our environment."
Some key facts about endosulfan:
The ban on endosulfan will leave dicofol as the last major chlorinated pesticide allowed today in the United States, where it is used to kill mites, mostly on cotton and citrus. Pentachlorophenol is also used as a pesticide,although its use is restricted to treatment of railroad ties and utility poles, not food crops. Lindane is banned from crops but continues to be used in prescription shampoos for treating lice.
Originally published by Environmental Health News.
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