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Media Contact: Glenn Brank
September 1, 2006 (06-15)

DPR orders data call-in to protect waterways

SACRAMENTO - - The Department of Pesticide Regulation today ordered more than 120 pesticide makers and sellers to provide information to help DPR assess pesticide impact on waterways and prevent environmental harm.

DPR has targeted pyrethroids -- a class of insecticides originally derived from the chrysanthemum flower -- based on studies that show they may accumulate in stream sediment and are toxic to aquatic invertebrates. Pyrethoids do not pose any immediate health concerns for people or drinking water.

DPR will require detailed scientific data on 608 products from 123 registrants with deadlines that range from six months to two years, depending upon the complexity of work. Review and analysis will proceed as the data comes in.

The data call-in serves two purposes, said DPR Director Mary-Ann Warmerdam.

"First, we must take all appropriate steps to protect the environment," she said. "While these products pose no direct threat to people, their impact on aquatic ecology must be assessed so that we can take appropriate actions under state and federal clean water law.

"Second, pyrethroids are a valuable pest management tool, and they are much less toxic than some of their predecessor chemicals," said Warmerdam. "It is in everyone’s interest to address any problems early and develop preventive strategies as needed. Simply switching to another chemical is not the answer, since it could lead to more water quality problems."

Water board officials welcomed DPR’s reevaluation of pyrethroids.

"The Water Board supports DPR's action," said San Francisco Bay Water Board Executive Officer Bruce H. Wolfe. "Researchers have found that pyrethroids are the cause of significant, widespread toxicity to aquatic life in urban creeks. These pesticides are commonly used by professionals and homeowners to kill ants and other insects and can be washed into storm drains and then to creeks when it rains or during irrigation. We look forward to working collaboratively with DPR to help ensure that Bay Area water bodies are protected."

While DPR has monitored pyrethroids in 25 agricultural counties since 2002, recent studies funded by California water boards have documented pyrethroid accumulation in the sediment of suburban creeks and streams in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area.

DPR’s Warmerdam said the studies underscore the need for more consumer education on IPM -- integrated pest management -- an approach that stresses pest prevention and least-toxic solutions that turn to chemicals only as a last resort. Several water agencies around the state, notably in the Bay area, actively promote consumer IPM.

Members of the state’s pesticide industry also are involved. After the first pyrethroid sediment studies were released in 2004, the Coalition for Urban/Rural Stewardship (CURES) began an outreach campaign. In the last two years, CURES has held 30 presentations for more than 2,000 growers, crop advisors, and urban pest professionals. The group also is sending out 10,000 best-management practice guides to orchard and row crop growers.

“Pyrethroids are important tools for protecting crops, people and their homes from pests,” said CURES Executive Director Parry Klassen. “Proper stewardship will ensure the products can do this safely without impacting the environment.”

For a list of products subject to DPR’s reevaluation, see pyrethroid reevaluation.

Additional contacts and information:

DPR consumer fact sheets (English and Spanish)

DPR School IPM

Urban Pesticide Pollution Prevention Project
San Francisco Estuary Project

Coalition for Urban Rural Environmental Stewardship