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The information presented on this page was originally released on June 19, 2000. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Follow Pesticide Labels For Ideal Control Efforts
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Recent headlines, "EPA to ban common pesticide," may have caught consumers' attention, but the most important message for users is on the need to follow product labels.
On June 8, 2000, the Environmental Protection Agency cited health risks to children as the reason for phasing out the use of chlorpyrifos in gardens and homes and cutting back its use in agriculture. Chlorpyrifos, one of the most common pesticides, is sold commonly under the trade names Dursban for home use and Lorsban for agricultural use.
Ruth Morgan, pesticide coordinator with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said it is still legal to purchase chlorpyrifos products and use them according to label directions and precautions.
"Use of these products according to label directions does not pose an imminent hazard," Morgan said. "The best way to dispose of a pesticide is to apply it through a legal use. If consumers choose to discontinue use, they should contact their state or local hazardous waste disposal program or the local solid waste collection service for information on proper disposal."
Morgan said EPA's action will almost eliminate this chemical's use in homes, lawns and gardens by the end of the year.
"EPA's action will eliminate the use of chlorpyrifos for all sensitive areas including schools, day cares, parks, hospitals, nursing homes and malls by the end of the year," Morgan said.
"New restrictions will eliminate or dramatically lower pesticide residues on several foods by the next growing season."
Morgan said the pesticide's use to control termites in new home and building construction will be eliminated by 2004.
Chlorpyrifos is among the organophosphate, or phosphate-based, family of pesticides. Two other types of pesticides are carbamates and synthetic pyrethroids.
"In Mississippi, Dursban is frequently used to control fire ants. At this time, we still have several other pesticides we can use on fire ants," said James Jarratt, Extension entomologist. "Homeowners should not throw out unused portions of the pesticide. They should use it responsibly and begin making plans for other choices of pest control."
Jarratt said scientists have known all along that organophosphates work by attacking the nervous system. Recommendations call for cautious use of those pesticides for termite and roach control inside homes, and outside on ornamental plants, lawns and turf grasses, and fire ants.
"As long as we live in a warm climate, Mississippians will have a lot more pests to battle than do areas in cooler climates," Jarratt said. "Modern pesticides make a big difference in U.S. agricultural production. It is easy to forget the amount of produce lost in countries without similar control options."
The National Pesticide Telecommunications Network can answer questions about pesticide toxicity. The NPTN toll-free number is (800) 858-7378.