Retailers Asked To Remove Pesticide From Shelves

A coalition of state Attorneys General today called on major national retailers to immediately pull the highly toxic and widely-used pesticide Diazinon from their shelves, rather than slowly phasing out the product as called for by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

"We agree with the EPA's assessment that this highly toxic pesticide poses serious health and environmental risks," said New York Attorney General Spitzer. "However, we disagree that we should wait a full two and a half years before it is taken off the market. We are calling on major retailers to act in the public interest by taking Diazinon off their shelves immediately and offering their customers effective but less harmful alternatives. "

Americans use 13 million pounds of Diazinon per year, 80 percent of which is applied by homeowners on turf, lawns and gardens to control insects and grub worms. EPA has found that Diazinon poses health risks to people who apply the pesticide as well as those who are exposed to it. It affects the brain and nervous system and exposure in humans can cause nausea, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea. The EPA assessment found that children are particularly at risk due to potential exposure by inhalation of vapors and by skin contact in and around their homes.

Diazinon also seriously damages the environment and wildlife. EPA research has revealed Diazinon to be responsible for the greatest number of bird kills - especially waterfowl, songbirds and raptors - attributable to pesticides during the years 1994-1998. A single granule of Diazinon is enough to kill a bird. Diazinon is also highly toxic to freshwater fish, snails, algae, earthworms and mites.

Because of the serious health and ecological damage caused by this pesticide, the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced on December 5, 2000 that Diazinon will be taken off the market by August 2003. The manufacturing of the product for indoor use is scheduled to end this month, but suppliers and retailers will be allowed to sell down their stock.

Spitzer heads a coalition of Attorneys General from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Alaska, Rhode Island and Guam advocating for the immediate removal of Diazinon from store shelves.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said: "This highly toxic hazard should be off store shelves immediately - not at the snail's pace planned by the federal government phase-out. Diazinon is a poison, pure and simple. Applied to kill garden pests, it risks wrenching sickness, brain damage, even death particularly to children who simply inhale or touch it. If retailers care about their customers, now is the time to say no."

Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly said: "As Attorney General I am committed to protecting Massachusetts children and their health, and minimizing the risks from exposure to proven dangerous chemicals such as Diazinon as an important part of that effort. Today, I am calling on Massachusetts retailers to step up and voluntarily remove these toxic chemicals from their shelves, and to instead encourage consumers to use less risky alternatives."

Diazinon is manufactured and marketed by Sygenta of Greensboro, NC and Makhteshim Agan, of New York City. Diazinon has been on the market since the mid-1970s and is sold under hundreds of product names, including: Ortho Diazinon Granules, Creep Out, Agway Diazinon Insect Spray, Bug-B-Gon Ready Spray, and Turf Builder Plus Insect Control.

The letter from the Attorney General requesting that Diazinon be pulled from stores immediately was sent today to the following major retailers: Ace Hardware; Agway, Inc.; Brewer Environmental Inc.; Home Depot, Inc.; Kmart Corporation; Lowe's Home Improvement Center; Pergament Home Centers, Inc.; Sam's Club; Target; TruServ Corporation (True Value); Walgreen's; Walmart; and WSTCO Quality Feed.


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