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EPA and Dow Chemical Cutting Backroom Deal to Lift Pesticide Ban

Dow Chemical company is in the process of striking a backroom agreement with the EPA to repeal a ban on a confirmed highly toxic pesticide. Four Years ago (June 2000), the EPA announced it had conclusive evidence that Dow's pesticide Dursban (chlorpyrifos)"does not provide an adequate margin of protection for children."

The chemical was conclusively proven to cause neurological disorders and birth defects. As a result, a four year phase out of the toxic chemical was put into play. As of Dec.31, 2004, the chemical is to no longer be legal, but according to the Washington Post (read full article here), Dow and the EPA are striking a deal to allow this toxic chemical's continued use. There are no new studies that justify this, but Dow is suddenly claiming chlorpyrifos is safe for kids. As a note on the legitimacy of that claim, in 2003, Dow was fined $2 million for illegally making false safety claims about its pesticides.


UPDATE 1/3/2005 - GREAT NEWS!!
The petition has been removed from this page. The EPA has announced that it will deny Dow's request to delay the ban on Dursban (for construction termite applications). Thanks to everyone who signed the petition to the EPA!

Craig Minowa
Organic Consumers Association

Questions and Answers:
(The following are letters sent to OCA from readers regarding this topic, and the follow-up OCA response. Some of the text of the original letter has been changed to provide anonymity.)

Question from reader: OK, in all honesty, I took your e-mail warning seriously.  However, an organic consumer's group isn't what I'd consider unbiased. 
I'm a critical thinker, or try to be.  I read the reports.  And your appeal is lacking in specific details.  This statement, "The chemical was conclusively proven to cause neurological disorders and birth defects,"  is, to the best of my researching capability, blatantly false. 
Before I jump on a band-wagon, I want facts and details.  What study?    I spent far too many years in the Military and saw what all sides did to take anyone's "word" for anything.
Answer from OCA: 1/5/2005 Thanks for the note and concerns. We encourage people to research these issues thoroughly before coming to any conclusions, so you are definitely on the right path.

Our web alert appeal does not contain all of the data that you are looking for simply because the format of that publication (Organic Bytes) provides more than a half dozen recent news stories in a "news tidbit" format. Folks seeking more information can refer to our website, which contains literally thousands of related articles and links to thousands of related external information sources. We take an unbiased scientific stance on these issues, and are strictly focused on protecting the health of people and the environment.

In regards to the specific studies done on chlorpyrifos (Dursban), there are actually a myriad of studies that consistently result in the same conclusion. Some of those risk assessments can be found on the U.S. EPA website here On the EPA website you will also find the actual press announcements wherein the EPA said they would “eliminate its use for nearly all household purposes and to move to significantly reduce residues of it on several foods regularly eaten by children.” That same press conference had the EPA Administrator saying, “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.” (

If you’d like to read the actual guidelines the EPA had put out regarding drastically reducing the use of Dursban, including the elements discussed in the web alert you forwarded to your friend, the full document is here:

The EPA announcment, in a nutshell, says of Dursban:

  • Consumer home, lawn and garden uses would be eliminated by end of 2000
  • Chlorpyrifos use will be eliminated in all sensitive areas, such as schools, day cares, parks, hospitals, nursing homes and malls by the end of the year.
  • The acceptable levels of chlorpyrifos residues on several foods will be eliminated or dramatically lowered by the 2001 growing season.
  • Chlorpyrifos will be eliminated as a termiticide for new construction by the end of 2004.

As a final note, thanks to the public backlash on the EPA for considering cutting this recent deal with Dow and allowing Dursban's (as a home treatment termiticide) continued use, the EPA has dropped its deal with Dow and announced that the ban will indeed go forward. This is great news. Dow was forced to stop production of the termiticide on December 31. They can continue to sell what they have left in stock (until the end of 2005), but that's it. For folks who thought Dursban was their only option, the EPA also provides a list of safer alternatives:

Thanks again for letting your friends/colleagues know about these important issues. Thanks to folks like you, U.S. children will be protected from a chemical that is known to cause neurological damage. Working together, and armed with accurate and full information, we can continue to bring about positive change.

Here's wishing you a healthy 2005!

Craig Minowa
Environmental Scientist
Organic Consumers Association






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