NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Evaluating Pests and Pesticides at The EPA

February 12, 2002

Some critics charge that public policy on controlling vermin and other pests in poor urban neighborhoods is being influenced by chemophobes who view pesticides as more harmful to humans than the pests themselves, and by eco-extremists who wish to tread lightly on pests, if at all.

  • Although roaches and rodents are known to cause asthma attacks among low-income black and other minority children -- with the number of cases roughly doubling since 1980, the Environmental Protection Agency has a history of erecting hurdles to the use of effective pesticides designed to rid neighborhoods of these dangerous creatures.
  • Experts say the agency's review of some 9,700 different substances and their applications is so rigorous and so reliant on worst-case scenarios that some chemical companies have dropped successful pesticides from their product lines rather than hop through EPA's hoops.
  • Allen James, of Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment, complains that the EPA was pressed by certain environmentalists "to make rapid decisions which resulted in the direct loss of important products that were affordable and readily available for pest control."
  • With its 1998 ban of many organophosphates and the on-going phase-out of Dursban, among other products, EPA has driven highly effective compounds from the market, critics charge -- and while substitutes may be introduced, they are likely to be more expensive and have lower potency.

Then there are the delays and costs. Federal registration of a new pesticide can take nine years and cost its manufacturer $50 million.

Source: Deroy Murdock, "Pesticide Patrol Fallout," Washington Times, February 12, 2002.


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