Dear EPA: Fix broken safety rules for common pesticide, please.


EPA missed the boat on chlorothalonil. This nearly-impossible-to-pronounce pesticide, widely used in conventional potato fields throughout the country, is in the air people in neighboring communities breathe throughout the summer. 

Yet EPA’s safety standards — so far — are based primarily on how much of the pesticide people eat, not what they breathe. Tell EPA to match rules to reality as they reconsider the chlorothalonil safety standards.

Ms. Lisa Jackson, Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460–0001

Dear Administrator Jackson,

We are concerned that EPA’s current safety rules for the common potato fungicide, chlorothalonil, do not reflect real-world exposure in communities in potato growing regions across the country. We are pleased that you are now reconsidering this safety standard, and urge you to recognize and consider the on-the-ground evidence that communities are breathing this pesticide on a regular basis.

For example, a report released in early May documented chlorothalonil in the air in the central Minnesota potato-growing region. A total of 340 field air samples were taken in 19 locations, and chlorothalonil was found in more than 60% of the samples.

As you know, your agency considers chlorothalonil “slightly toxic to non-toxic” when ingested and “highly toxic or acutely toxic” when inhaled — and safety standards are currently based primarily on ingestion studies.

Chlorothalonil is also classified as a “probable” carcinogen, and other health impacts from exposure can include immunological reactions in the airways and skin, pneumonia and kidney failure.

Please carefully consider real-world uses and impacts as you re-evaluate the safety of chlorothalonil. To protect families in rural areas, new standards should reflect the on-the-ground evidence that communities in potato-growing regions are breathing chlorothalonil on a regular basis. We urge you to match your rules to this reality.

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