US pesticide trends - what, where, and how much. EPA's long-awaited Bush-blocked report is out today!

Everything you wanted to know about pesticides, but were afraid to ask. Well, not everything - but, market trends from the industry sales and usage data. Wow, my heart rate is spiking! This report is supposed to be issued by EPA every two years, but hasn't seen daylight since 2001. Remember that election year? But, its back! Yay EPA!

Okay, okay - what's it say? Good news first, from today's EPA's announcement:

  • Total pounds of U.S. pesticide use decreased by approximately 8% from 1.2 to 1.1 billion pounds from 2000 to 2007. (But, this is still a LOT of toxic chemical going out onto our lawns and fields)
  • Use of conventional pesticides (usually considered the most toxic ones) decreased about 3% from 2002 to 2007 and 11% from 1997 to 2007.
  • Organophosphate insecticide (the big nasty ones that NRDC has been working to get banned) use decreased about 44% from 2002 to 2007, 63% from 2000 to 2007, and 55% from 1997 to 2007.

And, the less-good news:

  • Agriculture accounts for about 80% of all pesticide use (680 million pounds in 2007). Home and garden uses are about 8% (66 million pounds), and the rest is used in the industry/commercial/government sector (12%, 107 million pounds).
  • Among the top 10 pesticides used in terms of pounds applied in the agricultural market were the herbicides glyphosate, atrazine, metolachlor-s, acetochlor, 2,4-D, and pendimethalin, and the fumigants metam sodium, dichloropropene, methyl bromide, and chloropicrin. (Yeuch!)

The report is here, so check it out. But, we must do better - this spring, let's all take a stab at reducing that 66 million pounds of home and garden uses!

About the Authors

Jennifer Sass

Senior Scientist, Federal Toxics, Health and Food, Healthy People & Thriving Communities Program

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