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EPA proposes restrictions on carbaryl insecticide

Measures aim to protect workers and endangered species

by Britt E. Erickson
December 15, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 44


Chemical structure of carbaryl.

The US Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to limit certain uses of the widely used insecticide carbaryl. The carbamate pesticide is neurotoxic and poses health risks to workers and endangered species, the agency says in a proposed interim decision released Dec. 1.

In 2021, the EPA identified potential human health and ecological risks for some uses of carbaryl, including residential ones. It also found that carbaryl is likely to harm more than 1,000 endangered species. The agency is consulting with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to determine what mitigation measures are needed to protect affected species.

In the meantime, the agency is proposing measures to protect two species—steelhead trout and wireweed. It is also proposing steps to limit spray drift and runoff to protect pollinators and nontarget species.

Carbaryl is used on several agricultural crops, including apples, asparagus, melons, and tomatoes. The EPA is proposing to allow such uses to continue without new restrictions, but it wants to reduce how much can be sprayed on corn, citrus, trees, and turf grass. In addition, carbaryl would no longer be allowed on rice.

To protect forest workers, the EPA’s proposal would restrict the amount of carbaryl each worker can spray per day. It would also require forest workers to wear personal protective equipment when handling the chemical.

The EPA is accepting comments on the proposed measures until Feb. 14.


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