Why Banned Toxic Substances Diazinon & Dursban are Still In Use Today: An Interview with Environment
After the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the
pesticides diazinon and dursban because of health concerns
for humans and wildlife, they continued to be used until stockpiles
ran out. They are, in fact, still legally available for some
In SixWise.com's exclusive interview with Dr. Doris Rapp,
board certified in environmental medicine, pediatrics and
allergy and author of the important (and highly readable)
Toxic World: A Wake-Up Call," Dr. Rapp discusses
how and why pesticides that are "banned" can take
years to actually come off the market. You'll also learn why
the chemicals still present a risk even after they are no
longer in use.
If you have diazinon or dursban leftovers in your basement,
if you visit golf courses, parks or other recreational areas,
or if your home or town has recently been sprayed for termites
or mosquitoes, don't miss this important piece below.
If you want more information after reading the interview,
please visit Dr.
Rapp's Web site.
Doris J. Rapp, M.D.
1. What is dangerous about the pesticide diazinon (Ortho
or Spectracide) and its chemical cousin dursban (Lorsban or
They are both in the chemical category called organophosphates.
They both damage the nervous system so the nerve impulses
cannot travel along the nerve pathways of insects - but humans,
fish, bees and birds are similarly affected. They both are
more dangerous for children than adults. There are also acute
and reproductive risks for non-target aquatic and terrestrial
Diazinon has been used on lawns, gardens, agricultural crops
and livestock as an insecticide or nematocide (for worms).
It has caused nausea, dizziness, burning sensations, headaches,
blurred visions, stomach and muscle cramps, twitching, diarrhea,
aching joints, disorientation and an inability to concentrate.
If there is a major spill, this chemical can cause respiratory
paralysis and then death.
Up to 18 million pounds of diazinon were used yearly in the
United States until it was banned in December 2000. In 2000,
it was the leading cause of acute reactions to insecticides
and is still being used to control fire ants in California.
Initially it was phased out, restricted for use or "banned"
in homes. This does not mean use had to be stopped. It can
still be used as long as you have it stockpiled. Retail sale
of diazinon products for indoor uses was permitted until about
December 2002. Eventually, it was supposed to be really banned
About 2 million pounds of dursban are used annually. Chlorpyrifos
is the active ingredient in many pesticide products, including
dursban, and up to 13 million pounds of this active ingredient
is applied annually in structural and agricultural control
of crops and on lawns, for example.
It can be used in hotels, schools, daycare centers, hotels,
restaurants, hospitals and stores, etc. as well as on pets
(in pet collars and baths), turkeys and farm animals. Various
exposures can lead to massive polluted rain run-off, which
eventually seeps into the water supplies of urban and rural
areas. With the one exception of tomatoes, it will continue
to be used agriculturally.
The phase-out period on dursban is 18 months for sales but
it may take years for the stocks of this material to be used
up--and it can continue to be used in spite of its acknowledged
extreme toxicity and danger. This toxic chemical was allowed
to be produced during the phase out of the "ban"
until the end of 2000, in some cases even longer. No public
notice is required.
Uses of dursban can be continued on and near golf courses
during the phase-out period while the stocks are being used
up and in containerized bait traps for cockroaches, for example.
As a termiticide in new homes, it can be used until December
2005. Sources vary on when production was actually halted,
2000 or 2004. Spot and local treatment of preexisting buildings
was allowed until December 2002. This means that factory workers
and the public are definitely in danger from continued exposure.
Many of the risks are 100 times over the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) levels of concern.
2. Are they the worst pesticides on the market?
The chemical industry does not lack ingenuity or creativity.
As the insects develop resistance to each new one, the industry
creates an even more toxic chemical to use as a replacement.
Unfortunately, the insects seem to be able to adapt to the
toxic pesticides better than humans.
The pyrethroids, for example, such as Anvil, are presently
being sprayed on and near humans to control insects, particularly
for mosquitoes. Although this chemical is safer than some,
this too appears to be toxic to wildlife and humans. The piperonyl
butoxide "inert" used with Anvil causes birth defects
and malformations, and has been linked to cancer in animals
and possibly in man. It does degrade faster, however, in the
air and sunlight than diazinon. Pregnant mice have newborns
with holes in their brains and breast cancer cells in tissue
culture go wild if sprayed with this "inert" substance.
Dursban may still be used on
Residential use of carbaryl, an insecticide that also damages
the nervous system, has increased since dursban and diazinon
have been phased out. This has increasingly endangered salmon
and any animal that eats salmon, and is a likely carcinogen,
or cancer-causing substance.
3a. Why was diazinon banned from the market?
The EPA needs more research to carefully evaluate links between
this chemical and cancer and genetic damage.
3b. Why was dursban banned from the market?
This chemical is known to cause human and animal birth defects
in many areas of the human body including the brain, nervous
system, teeth, eyes, ears, nipples and genitals. It can cause
profound growth and mental retardation when pregnant mothers
are exposed. It also appears to cause lower birth weights
of infants if mothers are exposed before and during pregnancy,
and this is associated with lower IQs.
Low-level exposure to dursban is harmful to fish, birds,
plants and animals. It damages the endocrine and immune systems.
Its half-life indoors is about 30 days, but the granular form
can last up to 180 days. For termite control, dursban is effective
for more than 15 years.
Our Toxic World: A Wake-Up Call
520-page book will increase your awareness about the
potentially tragic, harmful effects of the numerous
chemicals to which we are all exposed on a daily basis.
Alongside scientific proof are practical tips you can
use to protect yourself and your family from toxins.
- Signs and symptoms of chemical sensitivity
- How to determine if you've been hurt by chemicals
- Four ways to pinpoint causes of a chemical sensitivity
- What to do about a chemical sensitivity
- How chemicals affect behavior and learning in children
- The connection between chemicals and reproduction
- What kinds of chemicals are in our bodies, environment,
food, water and more
- All about pesticides and their risks
- How to protect yourself, your family, your home
and your town
Toxic World: A Wake-Up Call" now, or read more
about it on Dr.
Rapp's Web site.
4. How extensive was the ban?
As is typical of an EPA ban, such action does not mean the
use of the toxic chemical is suddenly stopped. Even if the
EPA knows a product is terribly toxic, it is typically only
phased out. There are exclusions, exceptions and extensions
that allow most banned chemicals to be used for several to
many years with a few restrictions. They can usually be applied
without too much restriction for a year or two so the chemical
company has time to sell its stock of the toxic chemical.
When delaying tactics have finally stopped entirely, our
government then allows these known toxins to be sold to third-world
countries so their population of humans and wildlife can be
In December 2000, the four-year phase out "ban"
on diazinon began. Customers were not warned of the neurotoxic
properties of this chemical at any phase of the banning process.
It could be sold throughout the early part of the phase-out
period and anyone could continue to use it until the stock
of that chemical was depleted.
The ban on diazinon indoor in residences began around December
2002. Outdoor and garden use was not phased out until about
December 31, 2004.
In June 2000, dursban was similarly allowed to be sold until
2001 in spite of its toxicity. In addition, all stocks of
dursban were to be available until they too were used up.
The ban on retail and indoor use of dursban was December 2001.
The ban did not affect insecticides on food crops except for
tomatoes. Ten million pounds continued to be used in agriculture.
Residues, of course, are on some foods--up to 14 days on
lettuce, for example--and the chemical also seeps into the
nearby water. After the bans, air and cord blood samples showed
fewer chemicals, so newborn infants were helped and were less
The fact that the uterine fluid and cord bloods of so many
newborns show so many chemicals certainly indicates that "bans"
are still far from adequately protective, however. DDT and
chlordane were banned in the '70s, for instance, and most
humans of all ages, including newborns, are contaminated with
5. Is it true they are still being used on golf courses?
I often wonder if they do not like golfers, because they
certainly do allow chemicals such as dursban to be used for
longer periods of time on golf courses, in spite of their
Dursban can also continue to be used professionally to control
ants and mosquitoes.
6. Are they being used elsewhere?
Of course they are. Many pesticide companies and uninformed
or misinformed people stockpiled them and can use them until
their stash is gone. Some are also allowed to be used legally
because of exceptions.
Diazinon, for example, is being used to grow mushrooms. Dursban
will be used for termite control until at least the end of
2005. It is also still used in some places for mosquito control.
7. How can you best avoid contact with these harmful poisons?
Use lawn care that is environmentally safe. Be careful if
you go to a play area such as a park or a golf course that
was sprayed recently. This is especially true if you are pregnant.
Avoid any direct contact with any herbicide sprays.
8. If you have been exposed, how do you recommend detoxing?
The third chapter of my book, "Our
Toxic World: A Wakeup Call," tells many ways to detox,
inexpensively and effectively. These include drinking lots
and lots of water, improving your lymphatic drainage, using
homeopathic or herbal remedies, exercising, deep breathing,
sauna therapy, and nutrition programs.
9. Are pesticides discussed in your book, "Our Toxic
World: A Wakeup Call"?
They certainly are. The dangers to all forms of wildlife
and humans are discussed in detail. These chemicals damage
the immune systems making humans and animals prone to infections,
allergies and cancer. They damage the endocrine system causing
more thyroid disease and diabetes. They damage the nervous
system and brain causing learning, memory and behavior problems,
and they harm the reproductive system causing smaller and
deformed genitals, hermaphrodites and changes in the typical
manifestations of sexuality.
It discusses how you can recognize that a pesticide is causing
you to become ill and then exactly what you can and should
do about it.
If you have diazinon or dursban in your garage or basement,
contact a waste control service to dispose of it.
10. Do you know of any natural alternatives to pesticides
that people can use safely in their own homes?
You can download a whole book at no charge from www.thebestcontrol.com.
The book is called "The Bug Stops Here," by Steve
Tvedten. He gives specific information about the various types
of pests that can become a challenge in a home.
11. What do you do if you find you do have some diazinon
or dursban in your garage or basement?
If someone still has these chemicals in some form stored
someplace, they must be careful to dispose of it safely, as
the granules, for example can easily contaminate water, wildlife,
fish, birds and humans. Do not dump it in the toilet or down
the drain because large bodies of water can be contaminated.
And, due to the recycling of water, in a dilute form it can
eventually find its way to your kitchen and bathroom faucets.
Instead, consult a waste control service. It is somewhat
surprising that you can continue to use this poison that is
stockpiled; you simply can no longer purchase it.
12. What can the government do to correct the poor way
that chemicals are being handled?
The government must be urged to keep the safety factor of
pesticides paramount in their thinking. The safe level for
children is at least 10-fold below what is all right for adults.
Children are so much more sensitive than adults to the toxic
effects of chemicals.
The bottom line is that the EPA will allow chemicals that
are obviously toxic to continue to be used if they believe
the environmental and human risks are offset by the strong
benefits of the use of this chemical.
They certainly know these chemicals are hazardous to the
health of humans, especially children. EPA compromises with
chemical companies are unjustified, unwarranted and unacceptable.
The brains of our children, and their nervous, respiratory
and reproductive systems, are all being put at unnecessary
What You Don't Know Can Indeed Hurt You
Hitting Puberty at Younger & Younger Ages: Experts Say
Exposure to Plastics and Insecticides May be the Cause