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Agency demands pulling Dursban off store shelves

The Environmental Protection Agency finds this top insecticide unsafe, especially around children.

By SHERYL KAY

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 16, 2000


It's like learning that an old friend has a dark side you weren't aware of. Recent findings of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency indicate that Dursban, a longtime favored indoor and outdoor insecticide, could be harmful to humans, especially children.

Those findings have prompted the EPA to ban Dursban, manufactured by Dow AgroSciences of Indianapolis, from all household products. After more than two decades as the leading answer to pesky problems of ants, flies, mole crickets, thrips, ticks, roaches, and more, Dursban will be no more.

"I haven't read the reports," said Alan Pierce of Tampa Palms. "But if it has an adverse effect on children or the environment, then I'm all in favor of them pulling it."

Pierce, 38, is unusual in his Manchester subdivision, in that he does his own yard work, including the application of insecticide. He has alternately used Dursban and Diazinon, a competing product, for the past five years.

"I don't think it will have that much of an effect on me, because I will still use Diazinon," he said. "And if there isn't something eventually on the market to replace Dursban, I would consider using malathion."

When Drew Kronick, 40, of Top of the Village in Carrollwood Village, heard the news of the EPA ban, he was on his way to buy pesticide for his lawn.

He ended up buying Diazinon.

"I've been in this house a little over two years and Dursban was always recommended to me," said Kronick, a systems network engineer. "When I bought the Diazinon they told me it's all the same chemical, and most likely (the EPA's removal of Dursban) will affect half the products on the market."

While he did immediately take heed of the ban, he wondered, as some consumers suspected with the air-conditioning coolant Freon, if there might be some sort of hidden agenda behind the ban.

"First it's the greatest product around, then after years they tell you it's bad and they pull it off the market, and then they run more studies and tell you it's not that bad after all," he said. "You can't win. You don't know if they are telling you the truth or not."

Still, because of the compelling findings on Dursban, Kronick is taking no chances. "If the reports are true, then I really am concerned, especially because I have a 4-year-old," he said.

At Village Hardware in the West Village Commons shopping plaza, employee Andy Watson said, "there hasn't been any kind of extra demand (of Dursban), but no less either."

Watson said that, as per EPA's directive, the store will continue to sell the product until none is left. Then a sign will be posted explaining to customers why the familiar Dursban is no longer available.

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