EPA Targets Pesticide for Risks to Children
The most common household pesticide will soon be off the shelves at
your local hardware store.
The most common household pesticide will soon be off the shelves at your
local hardware store. EPA recently announced the phaseout of Dursban, a
common lawn and home pesticide used for a wide range of bugs, including
termites, as well as agricultural food uses. Although the pesticide is not
causing a severe public health crisis, EPA is phasing it out to provide a
bigger margin of safety for children from possible neurological effects.
Consumers need not worry about contamination of their home from Dursban,
according to EPA, as long as it was properly applied using label directions.
But the potential health risk to children is high enough to justify getting
rid of Dursban, also known as chlorpyrifos, as long as alternatives are
"Chlorpyrifos is part of a class of older, riskier pesticides, some going
back 50 years. Exposure to these kinds of pesticides can cause neurological
effects. Now that we have completed the most extensive evaluation ever
conducted on the potential health hazards from a pesticide, it is clear that
the time has come to take action to protect our children from exposure to
this chemical," said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner.
Whenever consulting with a professional pest control operator, be sure to
take the time to investigate your options. Besides chlorpyrifos, many other
pesticides are available for termite use, including: permethrin,
cypermethrin, imidacloprid, fipronil, bifenthrin, esfenvalerate,
deltamethrin, and cyfluthrin. In addition to stopping termites in their
tracks with insecticide, pest control operators have used bait systems in
recent years to reduce insecticide use and increase worker and homeowner
Here are some steps to consider in dealing with pest control operators:
- Ask to see the company's license.
- Get inspections and estimates from more than one company.
- Ask for a list of local references, and call them.
- Make sure you read and understand the contract, before you sign it.
- Get a receipt for the service.
- Ask for detailed safety information and get any health concerns regarding
your family addressed.
- Ask to see the label for the product they intend to use.
EPA also does not recommend running out and getting a laboratory to test your
home for Dursban contamination, not unless you suspect it was misapplied or
misused. When used for termites, Dursban is injected into the soil beneath
the home, usually by drilling holes and pumping it directly into
foundation. EPA says to look for obvious, major structural flaws, such as
large cracks in the foundation or basement near the treated soil. Do these
cracks leak water? Also, if you use your basement as a living area or
bedroom, your risk of exposure may be higher.
If you decide to have your house tested, make sure that the results are
reliable by having a qualified laboratory collect and analyze air supplies.
To locate a laboratory in your area, call the American Industrial Hygiene
Association at (703) 849-8888, or visit their website at:
Although Dursban is being phased out, you won't be arrested for purchasing or
using chlorpyrifos products. If you choose to use these products, however,
always read and follow the label precautions and directions carefully, as you
should for any pesticide. If you want to get rid of any chlorpyrifos
products, contact your state or local hazardous waste disposal program or the
local solid waste collection service for information on proper disposal.
Sources used to create this article include the U.S. Environmental Protect