Canada to ban use of common insecticide
Less than 24 hours after Washington took aim at a common household insecticide, the government of Canada announced plans Friday to outlaw the same chemical: chlorpyrifos.
The pesticide, which has been widely used for the past 30 years, is thought to be a threat to humans, especially children.
Researchers think it can affect young people's nervous systems and possibly hurt brain development. It's also known to be extremely toxic to fish, aquatic organisms, and bees.
On Thursday, authorities in the U.S. revealed plans to remove the product from store shelves by year's end.
Canada's decision to follow suit was announced Friday in the House of Commons.
Health Minister Allan Rock said his department's Pest Management Regulatory Agency had been trying to get companies to voluntarily withdraw it. But he accused them of reneging on a deal, which forced him to ban the chemical directly.
"We are going to impose unilaterally, using our authority as a government, that the product come off the market," Rock told MPs.
"When we finish the scientific work to uphold that approach, that is the step we are going to take to protect the health of all Canadians and particularly children."
Chlorpyrifos pesticides, introduced in 1969, are the most commonly used killers of lawn pests such as ants and grubs in Canada.
The insecticide is in everything from lawn care products to bug sprays, termite control, and flea collars for pets. It has also been widely used in agriculture to protect fruits, vegetables and grains from insects.
In Canada, the chemical is manufactured by Dow AgroSciences, Cheminova, and Makteshim under the name Dursban. Both CIL and Wilson sell chlorpyrifos-based pesticides, including Chlorisect Lawn and Soil Insect Killer and Chlorisect Ant and Grub Killer.
The government says consumers can still use any of the product they have in storage. However, people who would prefer to get rid of the product are being advised to follow instructions on the label or to contact local officials about nearby hazardous waste disposal sites.
There are also organic alternatives to chemical pesticides that consumers can consider.
Last month, health concerns prompted a parliamentary committee to recommend phasing out all lawn and garden pesticides used for cosmetic reasons such as killing dandelions.
The chairman of the House of Commons environment committee says chlorpyrifos should be banned in Canada immediately. "If the Americans have come to this conclusion (by the EPA), then I would say there is sufficient evidence now" for a ban, Charles Caccia says.
The PMRA says it's been re-evaluating chlorpyrifos and other insecticides in the organophosphates family for a year. The agency may take similar action on a couple of dozen other pesticides in the same category, either by asking industry for a voluntary withdrawal or banning chemicals directly.