The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking to end all use of endosulfan, a bioaccumulative insecticide toxic to more than just “pests”.
According to an EPA press release, Endosulfan is used on vegetables, fruits, cotton, ornamental shrubs, trees, and herbaceous plants. Endosulfan is an organochlorine insecticide that was first registered in the 1950s.
As well as posing risks to farm workers and others handling or around the chemical, the EPA believes there are unacceptable risks to aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, including creatures that consume aquatic prey which have ingested endosulfan as it is a bioaccumulative toxin. The estimated half-lives for endosulfan toxic residues are anywhere from approximately 9 months to 6 years.
Another issue of concern with endosulfan is what’s called long-range transport or global distillation. This is where a chemical applied in one area evaporates or is picked up by winds and transported incredibly long distances. Endosulfan has been detected in the dust of the Sahara desert and polar regions. Another chemical to have been flung to all points of the compass is DDT. Virtually banned across the entire USA by 1972, even decades later Adelie penguins in Antarctica still have DDT in their fatty tissues.
The EPA says Endulfosan is currently used only on a very small percentage of the U.S. food supply and the chemical does not present a risk to human health from dietary exposure.
The EPA is currently in discussions with the North American manufacturer of the chemical to voluntarily terminate all endosulfan uses.
A global ban on the use and manufacture of endosulfan is being considered under the Stockholm Convention.