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Letter to Retailers

December 5, 2000

The Facts About Diazinon: Letter to Retailers

EWG Asks Retailers to Stop Selling Diazinon Immediately

December 5, 2000

Dear Retailers,

Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final risk assessment of the insecticide diazinon, a heavily used home and garden pesticide contained in hundreds of products sold under the brand names Ortho, Spectracide, Real Kill and others. EPA's massive review of thousands of scientific studies concluded that diazinon poses health risks far greater than Agency guidelines allow. That conclusion compelled the manufacturers and the EPA to agree on a phase out of all home and garden products containing diazinon. Manufacture of products for indoor use will cease in 2001. However, today’s action allows continued manufacture of lawn and garden products containing diazinon for up to three years, with no time limit on the continued sale of existing stocks. The continued sale of products that are known to be unsafe is completely unacceptable. We ask you to cease the sale of diazinon products immediately.

Last summer, the EPA published a draft risk assessment for diazinon which concluded that virtually all home uses of diazinon, including lawn and garden products, are unsafe by wide margins, even when used according to the label directions. This prompted the primary manufacturer, Novartis (now known as Syngenta), to halt efforts to defend the safety of all indoor uses of diazinon and to voluntarily withdraw these uses of the product from the market. The announcement today builds on that decision, but unfortunately allows the continued manufacture and sale of outdoor use products containing diazinon for at least the next three years. Diazinon is also a threat to Pacific salmon and is the pesticide found most often in surface waters in the United States, primarily due to its heavy use on lawns, where it washes into streams following rains.

As with last summer’s decision to ban another highly toxic home use pesticide, chlorpyrifos (Dursban), retailers and their customers are left holding the bag. The government and the main manufacturers of diazinon have concluded that virtually all home and garden use diazinon products on the market today are unsafe, but failed to follow through with meaningful actions to protect the public and the environment from the pesticide.

We feel that consumers will certainly purchase safer products if they are educated about the hazards of diazinon. With that in mind, we respectfully request that you take the following actions:

  1. Demonstrate your environmental and public health leadership by immediately removing products that contain diazinon from your store shelves.
  2. While your existing inventories are being removed, post highly visible signs in your lawn and garden department, advising consumers of the EPA decision.

We look forward to your speedy response to this issue. If you have any questions, please contact me, Sean Gray or Richard Wiles at EWG’s office (202) 667-6982.

Sincerely,

Kenneth A. Cook
President