WASHINGTON— The Environmental Protection Agency announced today it has reached an agreement to phase out the endocrine-disrupting pesticide propazine within one year.
Propazine functions similarly to the pesticide atrazine, a widespread pollutant of groundwater and drinking water that is linked to increased risk of cancer and reproductive problems in people and can chemically castrate male frogs at extremely low concentrations.
The decision to ban propazine comes a year and a half after the EPA found that it is likely to harm or kill 64 different endangered species, including the highly endangered whooping crane, Attwater's greater prairie-chicken and ocelot.
“The long-overdue decision to ban this dangerous poison is great news for endangered species and the health of our children,” said Nathan Donley, environmental health science director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We hope this commonsense decision reflects a broader commitment by the Biden administration to finally get some of the oldest and most harmful pesticides off the market for good.”
The sole manufacturer of propazine agreed to the decision announced today following a 2019 legal agreement between the EPA and the Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network North America. That 2019 agreement required the agency to analyze the pesticide’s impacts on the nation’s endangered species.
Propazine is used on sorghum, mostly in Texas. An average of 200,000 pounds of the pesticide was applied each year to about 300,000 acres of sorghum crops in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
“People in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas can breathe a little easier now knowing that they will have 200,000 pounds less of a known endocrine disruptor to deal with in daily life,” said Donley. “This is a win for imperiled plants and animals and vulnerable people like farmworkers and young children, who bear the brunt of pesticide harms.”
Propazine’s cancellation comes after atrazine and simazine were prohibited in Hawaii and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the North Mariana Islands as well as all forests and roadsides in the United States. Those prohibitions came after the EPA found that the chemicals posed major threats to many endangered and threatened species.
The United States lags far behind many other countries in prohibiting use of dangerous pesticides, allowing the use of over 85 pesticides that have been banned or are being phased out in the European Union, China or Brazil.