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PR EPA FINES DOWELANCO FOR FAILURE TO REPORT PEST. HLTH EFFEC

Release Date: 05/02/95
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PR EPA FINES DOWELANCO FOR FAILURE TO REPORT PEST. HLTH EFFEC

FOR RELEASE: MONDAY, MAY 1, 1995

EPA FINES DOWELANCO FOR FAILURE TO REPORT

PESTICIDE HEALTH EFFECTS

EPA has assessed a $732,000 penalty against DowElanco for failing to report to the Agency information on adverse health effects over the past decade involving a number of pesticides, including chlorpyrifos (brand name Dursban), an insecticide widely used by both commercial applicators and homeowners for

indoor pest control and termite control.

The penalty is the largest penalty to date under section 6 (a)(2) of the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which requires pesticide registrants to submit to EPA, in a timely manner, any additional factual information regarding unreasonable adverse effects of their registered pesticide products. These reports are particularly important because human testing is not done, and incident reports may document effects not seen in animal studies, or indicate areas which warrant further research.

The bulk of the information arose from personal injury claims filed against DowElanco relating to chlorpyrifos. Reported adverse effects, which span about a decade, included cases of peripheral neuropathy and other chronic neurological effects. Peripheral neuropathy involves the nerves of the arms and legs; symptoms include numbness, burning and tingling, as well as muscle weakness or difficulty with coordinated movement. Other chronic neurological effects reported included persistent headaches, visual disturbances, problems with memory, concentration, confusion, and depression. A few incidents involved other problems such as asthma or birth defects.

"EPA is committed to protecting public health from the risks posed by dangerous pesticides, and the American people deserve no less. We take seriously the law that requires companies to report information on adverse health effects, and this penalty reflects our commitment to protecting public health," said Steven Herman, EPA's Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. Herman noted that this may not be an isolated case. "EPA is concerned about under-reporting of pesticide adverse effects incidents, including personal injury claims-related incidents involving human health. We expect to be taking further actions against registrants that have not reported incidents" he said.

Dr. Lynn Goldman, Assistant Administrator for Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, noted that the incident reports obtained in this action are particularly important because EPA is currently reviewing the registration for chlorpyrifos. "Because chlorpyrifos is a widely used insecticide, EPA is taking a particularly close look at the reported health effects. Based upon evaluation of this information, and further investigation where needed, we will take immediate and appropriate action to reduce or eliminate any risks to public health that may be identified."

DowElanco reported 249 incidents to EPA well after the 30-day time period specified in EPA guidance. EPA's review of these incidents revealed that DowElanco had not been reporting adverse effects incidents that it learned of through personal injury claims and lawsuits. After EPA sent DowElanco a "show cause" letter, the company submitted information on additional incidents.

Incident reports of adverse effects are used to determine areas for further study by registrants and taken into account by EPA in decisions about pesticide label changes, use restrictions and eligibility of pesticides for reregistration.

Today's settlement with DowElanco is subject to approval by the Environmental Appeals Board.

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