Endosulfan application to tomatoes results in contaminated water downstream—with levels of the chemical present at up to 28 times the amount fatal for freshwater fish.
The toxic pesticide endosulfan will cease production and use in the U.S. thanks to a new Environmental Protection Agency ruling. Endosulfan has been used in agriculture on crops like vegetables, fruits, cotton and ornamental plants, but carries serious known human health costs, particularly for farm workers. In large amounts, endosulfan causes nervous system damage in animals, leading to organ failure. The chemical also causes miscarriages and low birth weight and defects in babies born to animal mothers who have been exposed. Not only are these health impacts of worry to anyone with high exposure rates, but the long-term environmental consequences of heavy endosulfan use is of serious concern, too.
The nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) reports that endosulfan poisons many endangered species and is highly toxic to land animals, birds, amphibians and fish. What’s more, the chemical travels widely and has been found in the Arctic and other remote regions—suggesting that it accumulates in even remote environments, posing a greater threat with each year it is in use. In reporting on its decision to ban endosulfan, the EPA notes that it considers the toxin a "dietary risk to indigenous people of the Arctic region of the U.S. (Alaska) who rely heavily on subsistence diets as their food source." And the CBD reports that endosulfan application to tomatoes results in contaminated water downstream—with levels of the chemical present at up to 28 times the amount fatal for freshwater fish.
The organization has cheered the EPA decision to ban the chemical, and has filed several past lawsuits on behalf of endangered species threatened by the pesticide. The CBD notes that endosulfan is both dangerous and outdated, and has already been banned in the European Union, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and other countries.
SOURCES: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; Center for Biological Diversity; EPA.