Ban Methyl Parathion Now

Unacceptable Risk to America's Children

Friday, February 12, 1999

Ban Methyl Parathion Now

Unacceptable Risk to America's Children

View and Download the report here: Ban Methyl Parathion Now

In January 1998, the Environmental Working Group called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the insecticide methyl parathion in all foods consumed by children. We supported our recommendation with a detailed analysis of dietary risk of organophosphate exposure for children aged five and under.

One year later, we again call on the agency to ban this highly toxic pesticide, based on the results of a new, refined risk analysis.

Using state of the art monte carlo techniques and EPA's most recent acute toxicity factors, designed to protect consumers against immediate, short term damage to the nervous system, EWG found:

  • An estimated 320,000 children between the ages of one and five years old eat an unsafe dose of methyl parathion in their food every day.
  • More than 55,000 of those children exceed the safe dose of methyl parathion by a factor of ten or more each day, and 2,400 children ages one through five exceed the safe daily dose by more than 100-fold.
  • Methyl parathion is so toxic that a five-year-old can not eat an apple with any detectable methyl parathion on it without being exposed to an unsafe dose of the pesticide. Some apples and peaches are so contaminated that just two bites (4 to 7 grams) are unsafe for children under age six. Any other organophosphate (OP) exposure in food, at home, at school, in water or in the air will only push that child's daily exposure to these compounds further into the zone that the EPA already considers unsafe. A vast literature compiled by the Agency makes clear that such exposures are a fact of daily life for children in the United States, and will continue until strong action is taken to severely restrict or ban a number of organophosphate insecticides now on the market.

We believe it is extremely unlikely that our estimates overstate exposure and risk. Our analysis uses the most recent verified data on food consumption from the USDA for the years 1994 through 1996, and residue data that were measured by the government after the foods were washed, cooked, and otherwise prepared for normal consumption.

The continued use of methyl parathion presents unacceptable, immediate health risks for hundreds of thousands of American children every day. This chemical would never be approved if it were newly submitted for registration today. It should have been taken off the market over a decade ago, averting literally millions of exposure-events in small children each year.

Methyl parathion is one of a number of pesticides that have rendered the American food supply unsafe due to the risks of pesticides for many years. By banning methyl parathion, the EPA will demonstrate that it is willing and able to take decisive action to protect children from those risks.

View and Download the report here: Ban Methyl Parathion Now

Key Issues: