Starting Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency will begin gradually phasing out the pesticide endosulfan. For many farmers in Oregon, including Christmas tree growers, the chemical was both cheap and effective. But it also put wildlife and the health of agricultural workers at risk.
You might not have ever heard of endosulfan. But David Stone, Director of the National Pesticide Information Center, says it belongs to class of pesticides known as organochlorines.
The most famous member of this group is the pesticide DDT. Stone says DDT was banned in the US in the 1970’s for the same reasons the EPA is phasing out endosulfan today. It’s a toxic chemical that’s hard to get rid of.
“One of the big problems that organochlorines have is that they are particularly bio-cumulative meaning that they persist in the environment and they build up in tissue, particularly in wildlife tissue, but in our tissue as well,” says Stone.
This first group of crops to be phased out include christmas trees, hazelnuts, carrots and cauliflower. Pears growers can continue to use endosulfan until next July. Oregon’s seed production industry can use the chemical through July of 2016.
(This was first reported for OPB News.)
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