WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency approved more than 100 pesticide products in 2017 and 2018 that contained ingredients widely considered to be the most dangerous still in use, including some that have been banned in multiple countries or targeted for phaseout in the United States, according to a new analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity.
The analysis, Toxic Hangover: How the EPA Is Approving New Products With Dangerous Pesticides It Committed to Phasing Out, found that the EPA is actively working against its own pledge to incentivize the replacement of older, more dangerous pesticides.
Included in the EPA approvals are 17 new products containing the endocrine disruptor atrazine, which is banned across much of Europe, four products containing chlorpyrifos or methyl bromide, and 69 products containing a “known” or “likely” carcinogen.
“The EPA is recklessly promoting use of some of the world’s most dangerous pesticides,” said Nathan Donley, the Center scientist who conducted the analysis. “It’s disgusting that rather than do the right thing and phase out the worst of the worst pesticides, the EPA is quietly encouraging their ongoing use.”
For this analysis the Center analyzed records of pesticide products approved in 2017 and 2018. The records, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, show that 94% of new pesticide product applications were given the EPA’s stamp of approval.
The EPA did not deny a single pesticide product application because the product was too dangerous. Its only denials were procedural in nature.
Pesticide products approved by the EPA in 2017 and 2018 include:
- 15 new products containing neurotoxic carbamates or organophosphates, including chlorpyrifos;
- 17 new products containing the endocrine disruptor atrazine;
- 6 new products containing paraquat, which is so lethal that one spoonful can kill an adult;
- 4 new products containing the extremely dangerous airborne fumigants methyl bromide or chloropicrin;
- 91 new restricted-use pesticides, which are so dangerous they can only be applied by a professional;
- 69 new products containing an ingredient the EPA recognizes as a “known” or “likely” carcinogen.
The investigation also found that 1 out of every 3 products approved in the past two years contains more than one active ingredient — despite the fact that the EPA only measures toxicity by exposure to a single active ingredient at a time.
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The agency has refused to fully assess any increased synergistic toxicity between active ingredients in new products, even though heightened toxicity is often the purpose of the product combinations.
“When the EPA is approving 94% of applications that come across its desk, including for some of the planet’s most dangerous pesticides, it’s obvious the safety review process is completely broken,” said Donley.
These product approvals are occurring despite the EPA’s “Reduced Risk” Program, in which it incentivizes companies to seek approval for purportedly lower-risk, new pesticides.
Since 1998 that program has specifically prioritized efforts to find alternatives to organophosphates and methyl bromide. The EPA has also mandated use reductions of atrazine from Syngenta, the main company that produces it. Yet the agency keeps approving new products with atrazine from other companies.
Even as the EPA approves products containing older pesticides, the agency claims the reason it is fast-tracking approvals of new pesticide active ingredients harmful to pollinators and other non-target species is to replace the older products.
Still, in the past two years, the EPA has approved many more products with these dangerous, older ingredients than products with the newer ingredients that were supposed to replace them.Print