April 21, 1996
NGO Challenges EPA Decision to Continue Use of
The National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides
(NCAMP) has petitioned EPA to suspend all registrations of
pesticides containing propargite immediately. The U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Uniroyal Chemical
Company had reached an agreement on April 5, 1996, to cancel
several uses of the pesticide propargite due to new
information indicating that this chemical poses greater
cancer risks than previously thought, especially to infants
Uniroyal Chemical Company (based in Connecticut) is the only
registered producer of propargite, which is used to kill
mites. According to the agreement, use of propargite will no
longer be allowed on apricots, apples, peaches, pears, plums,
figs, cranberries, strawberries, green beans and lima beans--
crops frequently eaten by American consumers in general, and
children in particular.
EPA's Dietary Risk Evaluation Section recently calculated
that the overall dietary cancer risk from propargite has been
approximately 16 per million people exposed. EPA stated that
propargite could pose unacceptable risks over a lifetime of
exposure (70 years). According to EPA, the cancellations
should reduce propargite exposure to adults and children by
more than 85%, and to infants by more than 98%.
NCAMP stated that EPA should reduce cancer risk from exposure
to propargite "at least to the level the agency has defined
as 'negligible.'" While EPA defines "negligible" as one in a
million, the agency's proposal allows more than two cases of
cancer per million people exposed to propargite, according to
NCAMP. Under EPA's plan, propargite use will continue on many
other crops, including nectarines and grapes.
NCAMP pointed out that over the past several years evidence
has emerged indicating that propargite poses a range of acute
and chronic health risks. In addition to EPA's recent
analysis that dietary propargite exposure poses unacceptable
cancer risks to children, NCAMP cited a 1986 outbreak of
acute dermatitis among 114 California farmworkers exposed to
the pesticide and studies demonstrating that propargite
causes a rare form of cancer in rats.
Compared to adults, children are particularly vulnerable to
pesticide exposures for a range of physical and behavioral
reasons, including that children eat more food per unit of
body weight; typically consume more fruit; are less able to
break down and excrete toxic chemicals; and experience
windows of physiological vulnerability when exposures to
chemicals can permanently damage developing systems.
NCAMP has urged EPA to consider alternative pest management
practices, such as cultural practices and biological
controls, that could replace toxic chemical approaches. NCAMP
stated that it has long been recognized that chemical
controls have led to mite problems because they kill natural
predators which keep pest mites in check.
Uniroyal's agreement with EPA stipulates that the company
will not sell or distribute any propargite products labeled
for use on the above-mentioned crops after April 26, 1996.
Uniroyal will also notify buyers of cancellations with new
labels, and will not seek exemptions or challenge revocation
of tolerances and food additive regulations for any of the
Sources: Pesticide and Toxic Chemical News, April 10,
1996; San Francisco Chronicle, April 6, 1996; EPA press
release, April 5, 1996; NCAMP letter to EPA, March 23,
1996; NCAMP press release, April 5, 1996.
Contact: PANNA (see below); NCAMP, 701 E Street, SE,
Washington, DC 20003; phone (202) 543-5450; email
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