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Beyond Pesticides, along with Center for Environmental Health, Farmworker Justice, Healthy Schools Network, The Endocrine Disruption Exchange and over 100 national, state and local grassroots organizations, told the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect public health and eliminate unnecessary pyrethroid pesticides.
The group criticized EPA’s cumulative risk assessment, which concluded that pyrethroids “do not pose risk concerns for children or adults,” ignoring a wealth of peer reviewed studies linking this class of chemicals to cancer, respiratory and reproductive problems. EPA went as far as to state that it will consider additional uses, opening the flood gates and endangering public health.
EPA is mandated to complete cumulative risk assessments for pesticides, like pyrethroids, that have the same mechanism of toxicity. However, as the commenters point out, EPA’s evaluation ignores various routes of exposure, underestimating the risks.
The agency also chose to reduce the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) safety factor from 10 to 3 times for children less than six years of age and eliminate it completely for children over six. The FQPA safety factor is intended to protect infants and children to account for their special vulnerability to pesticides. Given that children are particularly sensitive to certain pyrethroids, this reduction is egregious.
Pyrethroids are used for indoor pest control, mosquito management, in agriculture, and on pets. Exposure has been reported to lead to headaches, dizziness, nausea, irritation, and skin sensations. EPA classifies pyrethroids permethrin and cypermethrin as possible human carcinogens, and permethrin as a suspected hormone disruptor.
Pyrethroids have also been linked to respiratory problems and triggering asthma attacks. Many are persistent and CDC reports that pyrethroids contaminate the bodies of more than half of all U.S. residents.
At the same time, there are clear established methods for managing homes, schools and other buildings without toxic pesticides, including exclusion techniques, sanitation and maintenance practices, as well as mechanical and least toxic, non-volatile pesticides.
Organic agriculture, which now produces yields similar to or greater than chemical-intensive farming, has proven that these chemicals are not necessary on the farm either. And, it is more effective to fight mosquitoes with natural larvicides than it is to fog with pyrethroids. Based on the host of health effects linked to this chemical class, pyrethroid use is hazardous and unnecessary.