EPA to suspend all uses of widely used weedkiller over risks to fetus, thyroid function

DCPA maker repeatedly failed to provide sufficient safety data

WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency intends to suspend all future uses of a toxic weedkiller that scientific research has shown to cause harm to the developing fetus and problems associated with thyroid function in adults.

The agency’s April 28 decision comes after repeated attempts over the past nine years to get the manufacturer, agrochemical giant AMVAC, to provide sufficient studies showing its herbicide dacthal, or DCPA, does not pose a risk to human health.

“For nearly a decade, AMVAC has ignored requirements under federal pesticide laws to provide vital health and safety information to the EPA and by doing so, has exposed farmworkers and the general public, including babies in the womb, to this toxic weedkiller,” said Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., a toxicologist at the Environmental Working Group.

“This outrageous inaction further underscores underscores the willingness of chemical agriculture to put profits far ahead of public health,” she added.

DCPA can drift from the fields where it is sprayed and is regularly detected in dust samples from the homes of farmworkers and those living in agricultural areas. A 2019 study led by scientists at the University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health found that more than 50 percent of adolescent girls from farmworker communities in the Salinas Valley were exposed to DCPA.

Residues of DCPA were also detected by researchers in the Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program on several non-organic produce items.

EWG’s recently published 2022 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™, which relies on USDA pesticide tests, found DCPA residues on collards, mustard greens and kale. The EPA has classified DCPA as a possible human carcinogen, and it was banned by the European Union in 2009.

In its April 28 Federal Register notice announcing the DCPA decision, the EPA said it will suspend all uses of the herbicide over AMVAC’s failure to provide data the agency has repeatedly requested to back up company claims the herbicide is safe.

“Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the registrant is required to submit data to support the continued registration of this product. Due to the registrant’s long-standing failure to respond to EPA’s requests for necessary data, the Agency is unable to fully evaluate the risks associated with DCPA,” the notice says.

The full notice appears in the Federal Register.


The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

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