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West Coast Home and Garden Stores Post Pesticide Hazard Signs

SEATTLE, Washington, July 10, 2006 (ENS) - Home and garden stores on the West Coast are now required to post signs warning customers of the dangers to salmon posed by seven common pesticides that run off the land into waterways.

All pesticides with the ingredients malathion, carbaryl, 2,4-D, diazinon, diuron, triclopyr, or trifluralin must carry the warning, according to court order. The consumer education campaign targets hundreds of products containing seven pesticides that contaminate urban streams, and can harm salmon or salmon habitat.

The warning reads, "SALMON HAZARD. This product contains pesticides that may harm salmon or steelhead. Use of this product in urban areas can pollute salmon streams."

The salmon hazard signs have been distributed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of a legal settlement with consumer and salmon advocates.

The lawsuit against the EPA was brought by the Washington Toxics Coalition, the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, and the Institute for Fisheries Resources.

Patti Goldman, the Earthjustice attorney who won the protections on behalf of the plaintiff groups, said, "This is a victory for consumers and their families. Gardeners have a choice when it comes to buying pesticides, and salmon will swim in cleaner streams as a result."

In January 2004, Federal District Court Judge John Coughenour of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington imposed buffer zones restricting use of 38 pesticides along streams supporting threatened and endangered salmon. The order requires 20 yard no-spray buffers and 100 yard buffers in which aerial applications cannot occur.

Judge Coughenour also ruled that for seven pesticides that have been frequently detected in urban surface waters, the EPA must provide point of sale warnings that the pesticides may harm salmon when used in urban areas, because they pollute salmon streams.

In July 2002, Judge Coughenour ruled that the EPA had violated the Endangered Species Act, because it had failed to take steps to ensure that its authorized uses of 54 pesticides will not jeopardize the survival of threatened and endangered salmon.

"EPA's own reports document the potentially-significant risks posed by registered pesticides to threatened and endangered salmonids and their habitat," the judge wrote.

Judge Coughenour ordered the EPA to comply with the Endangered Species Act by evaluating, with the input of NOAA Fisheries, the effects of these pesticides on endangered and threatened salmon.

The judge ruled that while the EPA was completing this process, interim protective measures should be put in place, and that buffers along salmon streams are a "common, simple, and effective" remedy that should be implemented.

CropLife America, a trade association representing chemical companies, and 34 other industry associations of users, manufacturers, and applicators, intervened in the litigation as defendants on behalf of the EPA. Several other parties, including Syngenta Crop Protection Inc. and Dow Agrosciences LLC filed amicus briefs with the court in an attempt to defeat these protections.

A similar consumer education effort failed in 2004 when the pesticide industry sent consumer warning signs to stores without adequate instructions for posting.

Finally, on May 30, 2006, the EPA sent the consumer warning signs to thousands of stores in more than 500 communities, inhabited by some 16 million people. These retailers are required to post the warning signs near all products that contain the seven pesticides.

"People need to know that the choices they make in the pesticide aisle make a real difference in the health of our salmon runs," said Erika Schreder of Washington Toxics Coalition. "The Salmon Hazard warnings will help consumers buying lawn and garden products make better choices for salmon, and for their families."

"Waterborne pesticides have long been a serious problem for salmon," said Glen Spain of the co-plaintiff Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. "It is far better to keep these chemicals out of the river in the first place and much harder to clean up a river after the damage has been done."

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