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Common Pesticide Banned as a Risk to Children

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The EPA also said it is imposing tighter restrictions on the pesticide's use on some agricultural products, specifically apples and grapes, and ban its use on tomatoes. These restrictions are designed to eliminate the chemical's residues on foods often consumed by children. The pesticide may still be used on a variety of grains and other crops.

While environmentalists and health advocates generally praise the move, they question why the EPA did not pursue a recall of products already on shelves and in the pipeline. Actual retail sales will not have to end until Dec. 31, 2001 under the agreement.

"When the EPA identifies hazards it should stop their use," says Jay Feldman, executive director of the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides. "It's a 'buyer beware' situation. We're urging people to stop buying and selling this product."

David Wallinga, a scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council, calls the action a "good step" but says that the EPA should have pursued broader restrictions on agricultural products and sought faster phasing out of the nonagricultural uses. In addition, Dursban can still be used in some areas such as on golf courses and around houses under construction.

Manufacturers in lengthy negotiations strongly opposed a recall.

"This is faster than any other action that we have taken against a pesticide in the history of the EPA," says Browner. If we had been forced to take it through the complete legal process [for a complete recall or ban], it would have taken another five or six years."

The American Crop Protection Association, which represents manufacturers and pest control companies, calls the EPA ban an overreaction, saying it is based on "a flawed or incomplete process" and "uneven consideration of valid scientific data."

This article and all articles on WebMD have been medically reviewed.

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