September 26, 1995
U.S. Exports Dirty Dozen Pesticides
At least 58 million pounds of Dirty Dozen pesticides* were
exported from the U.S. between 1991 and 1994 according to
information recently released by the Foundation for
Advancements in Science and Education (FASE). This figure
must be viewed as a conservative estimate since there are
significant data gaps due to incomplete information in U.S.
Customs records. Specific Dirty Dozen pesticides listed in
Customs as exported from 1991-1994 are aldicarb, chlordane,
DDT, EDB, heptachlor, lindane, paraquat, parathion and
pentachlorophenol. Paraquat shipments accounted for the
greatest percentage of total Dirty Dozen exports with nearly
42 million pounds, a rate of more than 14 tons per day over
the four year period.
The FASE project to trace U.S. exports of banned and other
hazardous pesticides began in 1990. Attempts to obtain
listings of pesticide exports from the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) were denied on the basis that such
data is "confidential business information." As a result, the
FASE project team relies upon a time-consuming and often
frustrating process of sorting, decoding and analyzing U.S.
Customs records which, in spite of their many shortcomings,
are the most complete source of information on exports
available in the public record.
FASE's first pesticide export survey looked at the year 1990.
When examined thoroughly, Customs records for this period
often were found to be cryptic or vague, to the extent that
it was only possible to identify product names of about 25%
of the pesticides exported. Among those compounds that could
be identified, enough banned, never-registered and
restricted-use pesticides were found to amount to an average
export rate of at least 71 tons each day.
A survey of 1991 exports found that the rate of unregistered
and restricted pesticide exports had increased to 80 tons per
day. Again, nearly 75% of the compounds exported were not
identified specifically in Customs records. Among the most
unexpected findings was the export of over 95 tons of DDT, a
compound banned for use in the United States more than 20
In the most recent analysis, nearly 30 shipments of Dirty
Dozen pesticides to countries in which they are banned were
noted, involving nearly 11 million pounds of these hazardous
products. The annual quantity of all Dirty Dozen pesticides
shipped to countries which had banned them rose over the four
Chlordane and heptachlor accounted for nearly nine million
pounds of that total. A 1987 EPA review of chlordane noted
that the agency was not able to establish a level at which
chlordane exposure did not cause tumor formation because
"these effects often occurred at the lowest dose levels
tested." Chlordane is bioaccumulative and persistent, and is
highly toxic to aquatic organisms and birds. In addition, it
is reported to have reproductive and endocrine-disrupting
effects. The Republic of Korea, which banned chlordane in
1979, received a total of more than 100 tons of the chemical
in 1991 and 1992. Singapore banned chlordane more than a
decade ago, in 1984. However, shipments of this compound are
still sent to Singapore from the U.S. despite the supposed
ban on its use -- over 250 tons were sent in 1991 alone.
The FASE analysis revealed that the Netherlands, which banned
chlordane in 1981, was named as the final destination of
chlordane shipments totaling nearly 1.3 million pounds. As
was the case with Singapore, the quantities increased over
the four years involved. Shipping records also indicate that
large quantities of heptachlor continue to be shipped to the
Netherlands P more than two million pounds in 1993 alone, a
rate of three tons each day. Heptachlor has been banned in
the Netherlands since 1981.
U.S. Customs Service requires only that a shipment's first
destination be listed on export forms. As a result,
subsequent re-shipments to other countries are not monitored.
Firms receiving chlordane and heptachlor in Singapore and the
Netherlands serve as formulators, adding the "inert" or
carrying ingredients, whose weight would add too much to the
cost of the initial shipment to be economical. In the case of
both Singapore and the Netherlands, although the national
government has banned the domestic use of chlordane and
heptachlor, imports of these compounds are allowed for
formulation and subsequent re-export.
Currently, FASE is completing its analysis of export records
for the years 1991-1994. A report will be issued later this
year which will provide a detailed examination of exports
during this period.
* The Pesticide Action Network International list of Dirty
Dozen pesticides targets 18 pesticides which are among the
world's most hazardous agrochemicals and have been linked to
widespread human poisonings, severe chronic health effects
and/or environmental contamination.
Source: Global Pesticide Campaigner, September 1995.
Contact: Foundation for Advancements in Science and
Education, 4801 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 215, Los Angeles,
CA 90010; phone (213) 937-9911; fax (213) 937-7440; email
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