New Threat to Pregnant Women in California, Florida: Methyl Iodide

Well actually it’s a threat to pregnant women, their fetus, children, the elderly, farmworkers and everybody else that lives near application sites according to a letter sent to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson by 54 concerned scientists, mostly chemists, including no less than 5 Nobel laureates, urging the EPA to reconsider their recent decision to allow the use of methyl iodide. The truth is that methyl iodide is a neurotoxin and carcinogen that’s caused thyroid tumors, neurological damage and miscarriages in lab animals, while mutating DNA along the way… But groups like the California Strawberry Commission are desperate to replace methyl bromide, another soil fumigant which used to help keep their precious plants free of insects and diseases until it was determined that chemical was damaging the ozone, and subsequently banned.

Of course EPA officials fire back that they’ve carefully evaluated the risks and that’s why they’re approving its use for just one year, with restrictions like buffer zones in place to help protect people in the vicinity. But I’m willing to bet those same administrators are all holed up in places like Washington D.C., far from the fields where the fumigant is actually used. And just as far from the everyday realities of the fact that fumigants themselves are among the most potentially dangerous pesticides in use today, mostly because the toxic gas can evaporate from the soil, exposing farmworkers and wafting into neighborhoods nearby.

Intriguingly, it seems that shovelers, tractor drivers and other employees of companies applying the fumigant must be trained and wear respirators, while local farmworkers are unable to enter the fields for five days after it is applied. And who of all people is now a top official at the EPA but Elin Miller, former chief executive of the product’s manufacturer, Arysta, which has spent eight years and more than $11 million collecting toxicological and environmental data to persuade the EPA to register methyl iodide as a pesticide.

Can’t wait to get them strawberries!

via:: LA Times

Tags: California | Florida

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