EPA scientists call for ban on widely used farm pesticide

March 26, 1991|By New York Times News Service

Scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency have recommended a ban on the sale of one of the most poisonous pesticides used in U.S. agriculture, and the agency promised a quick decision on the recommendation yesterday.

Since 1966, the pesticide, ethyl parathion (pronounced pair-a-THI-on), has poisoned more than 650 field workers in the United States, including at least 100 who died, according to studies by the EPA, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and other state agriculture departments.

New studies by scientists at the University of California at Davis indicate that parathion, which is one of the insecticides most widely used in U.S. agriculture, could be a hazard to people and wildlife away from farms because it drifts in the air and can linger in fog. The agency also reported evidence that residues of parathion, primarily in vegetables, raised the risk that consumers could ingest trace amounts.

Studies by scientists in California show parathion is as deadly in relatively small doses as two basic chemical warfare agents, sarin and tabun.

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