• Pesticides More Toxic: ‘Inactive’ Ingredients

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    We normally think of a pesticide as the product that can be purchased in the store – the insecticide, the weed killer or the fungicide. But, unfortunately, there is much more to it than that. The product that you buy or are exposed to is actually a pesticide formulation that contains a number of different materials, including active and inert ingredients, as well as contaminants and impurities. In addition, pesticides, when subject to various environmental conditions, break down to other materials known as metabolites, which are sometimes more toxic than the parent material.

    Widely used pesticides are much more toxic to humans than previously thought, due to the combination of so-called ‘inactive ingredients they contain.

    At heart the study questions how acceptable daily intakes (ADI) for pesticides are measured. It claims that ADIs exclude any examination of inactive ingredients, or adjuvants, even though these ingredients have the potential to seriously amplify the toxicity of the active principle in commonly used pesticides.

    According to the scientists: “Adjuvants in pesticides are generally declared as inerts, and for this reason they are not tested in long-term regulatory experiments. It is thus very surprising that they amplify up to 1000 times the toxicity of their active principle in 100% of the cases where they are indicated to be present by the manufacturer.”

    Define ‘inactive’

    According to the study: “The definition of adjuvants as ‘inerts’ is thus nonsense; even if the US Environmental Protection Agency has recently changed the appellation …

    Beyond Pesticides/NCAMP is working to convince EPA to require that all pesticide ingredients, including inerts, are listed on all pesticide product labels. In the meantime, because of a successful 1996 lawsuit (NCAP and NCAMP v. Carol Browner, EPA) filed by the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) and Beyond Pesticides/NCAMP against EPA, people may systematically request the ingredients in specific pesticide product formulations through the Freedom of Information Act. To obtain this information, a request must be made in writing to the Public Information Officer of EPA, EPA Office of Pesticide Programs, Freedom of Information Office H7506C, 401 M Street, SW, Washington, DC 20460. If you are member of a non-profit organization or seeking information “in the public interest,” ask that your fees be waived “pursuant to 5 U.S.C. Section 522” and explain your tax status. Individual states also have similar laws, often called “Open Records Acts” which can be used. Visit the NCAP website for a sample request letter or reports on inert ingredients.

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