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EPA Calls for New Measures Governing Use of Carbaryl

by Cookson Beecher
Capital Press, July 11, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Farmworker safety is one of the major driving forces behind new federal requirements governing the use of carbaryl, a widely used broad-spectrum insecticide.

Carbaryl is sold under the brand name Sevin.

As the result of a thorough assessment of the pesticide, which was completed June 30, the Environmental Protection Agency is calling for new measures to ensure protection for farmworkers, the environment and homeowners.

Alan Schreiber, administrator for the Washington state Asparagus Commission and a leading authority on pesticide issues, said none of these new requirements will be mandatory this growing season. H predicts that growers won't see new label instructions until next year.

For farmworkers who mix or apply carbaryl or who re-enter fields where carbaryl has been used, exposure will be reduced through a variety of strategies.

Carbaryl can overstimulate the nervous system causing nausea, dizziness, and confusion. At high exposures, it can cause respiratory paralysis and death.

In the Pacific Northwest, the measures EPA is calling for aren't expected to cause significant problems for most growers.

For example, although EPA is calling for its use in wheat to be canceled, Eric Zakarison of Washington state's Wheat Commission, said there's not a lot of concern about that.

"Growers here aren't using it for pests on wheat so it wouln't be major loss for the industry," he said, adding that new "softer" products are coming out that the growers can use.

Mike Willett, vice president for scientific affairs at the Northwest Horticultural Council, said most growers in the region will b able to continue using carbaryl as they are currently using it, although in some cases, there will be modifications.

"It hasn't been a pesticide causing problems for workers and applicators," Willett said. "It's relatively safe, and there don't appear to be any dietary issues."

Willet describes carbaryl as an affordable product that's extremetly important to the tree-fruit industry.

In the case of aples, carbarl is used for chemical thinning. Applicatons of the pesticide cause the weaker fruit to fall off the trees. This, in turn, gives growers higher quality fruit and more consistent yields from year to year.

Carbaryl also reduces the amount of hand labor involve in thinning - a significan financial benefit to apple growers.

To give added protection to orchard workers mixing or applying the pesticide, more protective clothing will be required, said Willett.

In the case of cherries, where carbaryl is used to control the cherry fruit fly, workers will need to wait three days before re-entering an orchard where carbaryl has been used. But Willett said that requirement isn't a problem since it matches the crop's harvest schedule.

EPA is calling for measures to protect honey bees, as well as terrestrial and aquatic organisms from adverse effects of carbaryl.

However, a recent settlement between environmentalists and oyster growers in Washington state that allows carbaryl to be used to control burrowing shrimp in oyster beds in tidal mudflats until 2012 remains in effect.

The Washington Toxics Coalition faults EPA for not going far inough to protect people, fish and wildlife from carbaryl.

"Even though EPA knows that cabaryl is toxic to th nervous system, and considers it likely to cause cancer, EPA is continuing to allow carbaryl use on our food and in and around our homes." said Erika Schreder, scientist with th coalition.

Cookson Beecher, Capital Press Staff Writer
EPA Calls for New Measures Governing Use of Carbaryl
Capital Press, July 11, 2003

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