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Ban On 2,4-D Sought

by Britt E. Erickson
November 17, 2008 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 86, Issue 46

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental advocacy group, petitioned EPA on Nov. 6 to ban all uses of the widely used herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D). In the petition, NRDC points to numerous flaws in EPA’s risk assessment of 2,4-D related to the chemical’s toxicity and the level of human exposure to it. The group asserts that EPA failed to look at neurotoxicity, mutagenicity, and endocrine-disrupting effects of 2,4-D and ignored data on adverse effects in aquatic species. In addition, the agency did not consider infants’ exposure to 2,4-D via breast milk and overlooked data showing that alcohol consumption, sunscreen, and the insect repellant DEET enhance dermal absorption of 2,4-D, the petition states. Approximately 46 million lb of the herbicide is used annually in the U.S., “making it the third most widely used herbicide in North America,” according to the petition. About two-thirds of it is used in agriculture on crops such as wheat, corn, and soybeans, and the rest is used on athletic fields, golf courses, playgrounds, lawns, and gardens. NRDC claims that more effective and less toxic herbicides are available, but “2,4-D remains popular because of its low cost.”


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