California petition calls for removal of dangerous fumigant linked to climate crisis

(Beyond pesticides, November 3, 2022) In a fight against global warming, environmental groups Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR) have filed a formal complaint legal request in October 2022, urging the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to phase out the use of sulfuryl fluoride insecticides. Sulfuryl fluoride is a fluorinated compound with various adverse health effectsincluding cancer, endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity (reduced IQ), and reproductive damage. CARB has added sulfuryl fluoride to its list of “short-lived climate pollutants,” being the only state to do so since 1990. However, California not included sulfuryl fluoride in the list of GHG emissions to be reduced by 2020 because researchers were unaware that the chemical was a greenhouse gas (GHG) until 2008. These termites and food use insecticides are 4,800 times more powerful GHG than carbon dioxide to trap carbon in the atmosphere. Additionally, sulfuryl fluoride has a high global warming potential and can remain in the atmosphere for over 36 years.

The sulfuryl fluoride case presents an all-too-familiar pattern of widespread chemical use without proper knowledge of health and environmental effects before implementation and an inability to take regulatory action on known hazards afterwards. have been authorized in trade. Therefore, CBD’s Environmental Health Legal Director, Johnathan Evans, Senior Counsel, States, “Phasing out sulfuryl fluoride would provide the same climate benefits as removing one million cars from our roads every year…California air regulators have a legal and moral obligation to reduce gases to greenhouse effect that contribute to catastrophic global warming.”

Sulfuryl fluoride, approved for the extermination of termites and other wood-boring insects in 1959, has garnered additional attention as a potential alternative to methyl bromide, a broad-spectrum fumigant against insects. Ninety-nine percent of structural fumigation treatments use sulfuryl fluoride. However, researchers have identified concentrations of sulfuryl fluoride in the atmosphere due to the chemical’s long half-life and greenhouse warming potential (GWP). Recent work from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) demonstrates that North America was the world’s largest source of sulfuryl fluoride emissions in 2019. The risk of multiple chemicals contaminants in the atmosphere increases as global warming progresses. Melting of the glaciers can release persistent organic pollutants into waterways. Recently, pesticides and fertilizers have overtaken the fossil fuel industry in the field of the environment. sulfur emissions. Thus, health and environmental concerns will increase dramatically, especially for individuals and ecosystems more vulnerable to the toxic effects of chemical exposure.

Following the report 2022California Termite Fumigation Fuels Rise of Rare Greenhouse gasthe researchers demonstrate that sulfuryl fluoride increases greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Although most sulfuryl fluoride emissions in the United States occur in California, most global emissions also occur in California. According to most recent data of the California Department of Pesticide Regulations, sulfuryl fluoride is the 12th most widely used pesticide applied at California sites, with more than 2.9 million pounds used in 2018 for structural and agricultural pest control and more than three million pounds used statewide in 2021. Although 50 to 60 percent of sulfuryl fluoride emissions primarily occur in California, researchers suggest this other states, such as Florida, may also produce emissions that are not accounted for by current National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) chemical monitoring.

Similar to this petition, Beyond Pesticides, and Others Support that without the phasing out of sulfuryl fluoride, there will be no incentive for grain storage facilities to upgrade and adopt modern practices that forgo the use of hazardous chemicals. In addition to phasing out sulfuryl fluoride, the petition also seeks to add this fumigant to California’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory for better monitoring.

The history of sulfuryl fluoride has pitted one chemical use against another, rather than spurring a move away from chemical dependence toward viable alternative and biological management practices. For example, in 2011, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sent a letter to the EPA stating its opposition to the EPA’s phase-out of the toxic fumigant pesticide, which is marketed as an obsolete, ozone-depleting methyl bromide substitute. The EPA’s action was in response to a 2006 petition Fluoride Action Network (FAN), Beyond Pesticides and Environmental Working Group (EWG). According to its letter, the NRDC believes that “the proposed action will jeopardize EPA’s ability to complete the long overdue phase-out of methyl bromide, resulting in prolonged and increased depletion of the ozone layer, higher levels of ultraviolet radiation and higher risks of cancer, cataracts and immunological disorders.The NRDC opposed the EPA’s announcement of to cancel all permitted pesticide residue levels (tolerances) for sulfuryl fluoride over three years, effectively banning its use in January 2014.

The agency found that when residues on food products are combined with fluoridated drinking water and toothpaste, the overall exposure levels are too high. Beyond Pesticides repeatedly highlighted non-toxic practices that eliminated the need for either hazardous fumigant throughout the petition process. Despite this, in 2014, buried in the Farm Bill of 2014 (the “Farm Bill”), Congress passed an amendment at the behest of those seeking to keep sulfuryl fluoride on the market that bans EPA from moving against the chemical. For a more in-depth history on this subject, see When politics trump science and health suffers.

The current petition concludes“Now that it is known and well supported by science that sulfuryl fluoride is a very potent greenhouse gas that can stay in the atmosphere for 36 years, and that there are viable alternatives to the fumigant, the petitioners request that CARB 1) initiate regulations to include sulfuryl fluoride in California’s annual statewide greenhouse gas inventory pursuant to AB 32 and 2) initiate regulations to phase out the use of sulfuryl fluoride.

As the climate emergency continues, banned and commonly used pesticides endanger human and animal health when released into the atmosphere and waterways. If the use and manufacture of pesticides amplifies the impacts of the climate crisis, advocates argue that pesticide policy and regulation must address and eliminate the use of chemicals. There are many viable alternatives to sulfuryl fluoride and methyl bromide fumigation. These alternatives include temperature manipulation, atmospheric controls, biological controls, and less toxic chemical controls (diatomaceous earth). Many existing produce storage facilities are too old and outdated to prevent pest infestations. This inefficiency leads to the use of toxic fumigation. Thus, a clean and regularly maintained storage or processing facility can easily protect facilities against pests.

The European Union already bans sulfuryl fluoride from contact with food. Thus, shifting from chemical-intensive agriculture to regenerative organic agriculture can dramatically reduce the threat of the climate crisis by eliminating the use of toxic petroleum-based pesticides, boosting soil health, and sequestering carbon. . Running organic food production and handling do not permit the use of conventional pesticides, including fumigants like sulfuryl fluoride. Therefore, organic production reduces greenhouse gas emissions from the use of chemicals. Learn more about how switching to organic management practices can alleviate the climate crisis by reading Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change: A Down-to-Earth Solution for Global warming. For more information on organic food production, visit Beyond Pesticides’ Keep the organic strong Web page. Learn more about the side effects intensive chemical farming poses for various crops and how to eat Organic Products reduces exposure to pesticides and benefits the environment.

For more discussion, background and strategy on tackling the climate crisis through phasing out petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers, head over to Health, biodiversity and climate: a path to a viable future, the 2022 National Climate Forum session on November 29, 2022, which will feature two speakers: Rachel Bezner Kerr, PhD, renowned professor of global development at Cornell University (and coordinating lead author of the Expert Panel report United Nations Intergovernmental Conference on Climate Change Climate change 2022: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability); and Andrew Smith, PhD, chief operating officer at the Rodale Institute and co-author of the report Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this article are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: CBD ReportCBD Petition

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