Ban on Dursban and Diazinon: What To Do?
When it was discovered that chlorpyrifos, the chemical found in dursban (a nerve gas derivative), cased brain damage in fetal rats after being eaten by mother rats, the EPA wanted more information and investigation.
The EPA did not actually ban dursban and diazinon (see original story carried by CNN on 12/5/2000). Rather than deal with the request for additional information and an investigation that would have lead to the same result, the manufacturer agreed to phase out the two pesticides. Thus was eliminated the two most popular methods of pest control in the US.
The Environmental Protection Agency's elimination of diazinon and dursban, was motivated by the desire to make the environment safer for children. It has done that. At the same time, it has made it safer for insects, too. Many of these insects do not play well with others. Certainly, they do not play well with us.
Many of us do not want to share our living spaces and plant materials with every bug that crawls along. At the same time, we don't want to endanger the lives of innocent bystanders whether they be human or animal.
Is there a safe middle ground between killing every bug you see and sharing your space? Can something be done that is effective against insects but not dangerous to every living thing?
Exploring Organic Solutions
There are still on the market environmentally "correct" replacement pesticides. For instance, the chemical pyrethrod is available under a number of brand names and has a low toxicity level to warm blooded animals. Even so, this chemical is toxic to fish and acutely toxic to shellfish.
However, for non-synthetic and organic alternatives there are quite a number of web-based resources available.
For information on alternatives to pesticides go to the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides. They seek to educate the public on the risks of pesticide use and alternative choices. They have free information that is downloadable on:
- Fact Sheets by insect type
- Articles on pesticide topics
- Fact sheets by specific pesticide
The Audubon Guide to Reducing Pesticides has exhaustive information on:
- Physical Methods
- Heat and Nontoxic Substances
- Traps, Visual Lures, Non-toxic baits
- Horticultural Oil Sprays
- Insecticidal Soaps
- Biological Control
- Microbial Pesticides
- Botanical Insecticides
They also have Ten Steps for Responsible Pesticide uses.
The Audubon Guide for a Healthy Backyard and Beyond is a good poster with lots of concise information.
Other sites that have information on the dangers of pesticides and the use of organics:
Pesticide Action Network - PANNA (Pesticide Action Network North America) works to replace pesticide use with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives.