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Post date: June 8 2000

New York Retailers Asked To End Sales Of Toxic Pesticide

Attorney General Spitzer today urged retailers in New York to stop selling a widely used pesticide that the federal government has identified as a serious health hazard.

Spitzer's appeal came as the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today recommended a ban on over-the-counter sales of most consumer products containing chlorpyrifos, such as Dursban and scores of other insecticides. While the EPA is allowing stores to sell down their stocks of chlorpyrifos products, Spitzer called on New York retailers to remove the insecticides immediately.

"Protecting the public from toxic materials is one of the most important functions of government," said Spitzer. "EPA has taken an important step in the right direction, but if we are really serious about protecting the public, especially the health of our children, we must do more to prevent exposure to this dangerous chemical.

"That is why I am asking New York retailers to remove all chlorpyrifos products from their shelves immediately and take the lead in providing non-toxic pest control alternatives to their customers."

Federal regulators are concerned that chlorpyrifos may interfere with brain and nervous system development, particularly in children. The 1996 federal Food Quality Protection Act required the EPA to analyze the impact of a broad range of pesticides on children's health. That review prompted EPA to take the action on chlorpyrifos it announced today.

Chlorpyrifos is the active ingredient in approximately 800 pesticide products registered for sale in the United States. It is the most heavily used pesticide in the nation and is widely used on food crops, in residential settings for pest control, on lawns and ornamental plants and in pet care products.

The EPA announced that it will severely restrict over-the-counter sales of most chlorpyrifos products, with some exceptions, including allowing its continued use of golf courses.

Chlorpyrifos will continue to be allowed for most agricultural uses. But the EPA will ban its use on tomatoes and sharply reduce its use on grapes and apples, three fruits consumed regularly by children.

In December 1999, Spitzer submitted extensive written comments to the EPA, urging the agency to ban all sales of chlorpyrifos. While he applauded the federal action, he pointed out that substantial amounts of chlorpyrifos will still be permitted in the production of food.

"Pesticides are obviously an important part of the farm economy in New York and across the nation," Spitzer said. "Now that this particular chemical has been documented to have serious health implications we must begin the process of phasing it out ."

Spitzer said he expects to work closely with farmers and others in New York to address the issue cooperatively.

As part of his appeal to New York retailers, Spitzer sent letters today to Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Agway, K-Mart, Pergament, Loew's and Ace Hardware asking that they voluntarily remove products containing chlorpyrifos from their shelves.Attachments: