Sign up to receive email updates, action alerts & health tips from EWG. [Privacy]

Ban Dursban

Ban Dursban

Government finds excessive risks in widely used insecticide
Friday, October 29, 1999

OCTOBER 28, 1999

Majority of U.S. Population Exposed



Children Found Especially Vulnerable



Environmental Group Renews Demand: "Ban Dursban"

Washington, Oct. 28, 1999--A massive government review has concluded that the most widely used insecticide in the United States poses excessive safety risks to millions of American each year who are exposed when they use the chemical to kill bugs in their homes or gardens, or consume food contaminated with the compound.

The findings, posted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its web site (www.epa.gov/pesticides) late yesterday, are especially significant because the pesticide, which kills pests and injures humans by disrupting their nervous systems, has been registered and heavily used in the United States since 1965. The government study says that the majority of the U.S. population is exposed to the chemical each year. According to the Federal Centers for Disease control, 82 percent of Americans already have the insecticide in their bodies.

According to the government, a recent Minnesota study found the bug killer at detectable levels in over 90 percent of school children examined.

"This government study firmly supports our research and position," said EWG analyst Todd Hettenbach. "Dursban must be banned."

Federal officials are expected to make an announcement today on their findings.

The insecticide, chlorpyrifos, is manufactured by Dow Chemical and marketed for over 800 uses, many under the trade name Dursban. The chemical is used in homes, schools, hospitals and daycare centers to kill a wide range of insects. Dursban is also the top insecticide used on crop fields. Residues of the chemical are found on dozens of crops, including vegetables and grains.

The government review was triggered by a food safety law passed in 1996 that required regulators to reexamine hundreds of pesticides to make sure they are safe for children.

There are several safer alternatives to Dursban widely available. Some of these are also manufactured by Dow Chemical. Consumers are advised to return any unopened Dursban products or others containing chlorpyriphos, to the store where they were purchased. Opened products should be taken to your local community hazardous waste collection facility.

According to EPA's new review, nearly all of the common home uses of Dursban are unsafe for the home applicator.

Method of Application Percent of EPA's Safe Dose
Hand spreader of granules 10,000
Hand application of granules 1,765
Sprayer attached to hose (residential) 1,304
Application with hand sprayer (inside) 811
Application with hand sprayer (outside) 435
Push spreader application of granules 273
Home application of termiticide with paint brush 214
Indoor Crack and Crevice Spray 150
Sprayer attached to hose (bushes and shrubs) 130
Insecticide dust 120
Low concentration ant dust 51



Dursban home and lawn use is unsafe for children.

Exposure Route Percent of EPA's Safe Dose
Lawn Application (liquid) 4,000
Dog Collars 3,750
Cat Collars 968
Lawn Application (granules) 411
Residues left in carpets after extermination 319
Roach Spray in Kitchen 231
Aerial and Ground-based Mosquito Fogger 13