Chemical in Pest Strips, Pet Collars Can Harm Nervous System

WASHINGTON (June 2, 2006) -- The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) today called on the Environmental Protection Agency to take immediate steps to remove from the market a highly toxic household pesticide, dichlorvos -- also known as DDVP -- which is widely used in pest strips, aerosol sprays and pet collars.

In a petition, NRDC noted that the EPA itself published a preliminary decision in 1995 to ban all home uses of DDVP, which can cause flu-like symptoms, headaches, nausea, dizziness and -- in large doses -- death. Health experts are concerned that the pesticide also may damage the brains of developing fetuses and infants.

But EPA never acted. Worse, the agency last month cut a backroom deal with DDVP's manufacturer, Amvac, which allowed the chemical to remain on the market.

"The agency's continuing failure to protect public health is unlawful and inexcusable," said Aaron Colangelo, an NRDC attorney. "We will pursue a full administrative trial. If EPA denies our petition, we will seek review in federal court."

DDVP is used in a number of commercial products, including Alco No-Pest Strips, Amvac Insect Strip, and Swat Pest Strip. Under last month's private agreement between EPA and Amvac, the firm agreed to reduce the size of some pest strips and modify labels to warn consumers about where they can use strips and for how long. Amvac also agreed to eventually phase out greenhouse foggers and certain other agricultural and lawn uses. But its pet collars and aerosol spray cans will stay on the market.

DDVP, which kills mosquitoes, fleas and other insects, is one of a class of the most dangerous pesticides on the market, called organophosphates, which derive from World War II-era nerve agents. Studies have shown that DDVP causes cancer in laboratory animals. California, the home of the pesticide's manufacturer, lists DDVP as a known carcinogen, while the World Health Organization and the EPA list it as a possible human carcinogen. The chemical is banned in Great Britain, Denmark and Sweden.