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CA Lawsuit Challenges EPA on Dangerous Pesticides

April 7, 2008

San Francisco, CA - Dangerous pesticides used on California farms are putting farm workers and others at risk, according to a lawsuit filed on Friday by a coalition of farm workers' advocates and environmental groups. They're suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to force them to ban the use of four pesticides, all organophosphates derived from nerve gas that was developed during World War II.

Joshua Osborne-Klein, an attorney with Earthjustice who is working on the case, says farm workers aren't the only ones being exposed to poisons, including methadithion.

"This is a pesticide that has been found to drift in the air far from where it's used. It's been detected in schools and in the Sequoia National Park. This is something that really gets around and kids are breathing it every day."

Osborne-Klein says more than 90 percent of the methadithion use in the United States takes place in California. Other countries have banned some of the pesticides, citing health risks, but the EPA argues the alternatives are not affordable for farmers. Osborne-Klein adds that, although some progress has been made to monitor pesticide levels in farm workers, more needs to be done.

"Both California and Washington have taken important steps to address pesticide risks, but Congress gave the EPA primary responsibility for protecting the public from pesticide poisonings, and the agency is not fulfilling that duty to the public."

The other pesticides named in the suit are ethoprop, oxydemeton-methyl (ODM), and methamidophos. More information about pesticides is available online from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, www.cdpr.ca.gov.

Lori Abbott/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - CA