Chlordane was once one of the most widely used chemicals to
eradicate termites in the home.
According to the US-based Pesticide Action Network
1, just because chlordane is now banned
does not mean we've seen the last of it. The potential for chlordane
to get into the environment is magnified when homes and other
structures, once sprayed with the chemical, get torn down to make
room for new developments, exposing the previously shielded chemical
to the elements - and possibly contaminating groundwater.
Chlorinated hydrocarbons are extremely fat-soluble and
'bioaccumulative' and, over time, tend to be carcinogenic and
mutagenic. Chlordane is a cumulative poison, and long-term exposure
may result in severe liver damage. It absorbs through the skin, so
farm workers are particularly vulnerable to chlordane in the soil
Chlorpyrifos* is one of the most
commonly used domestic pesticides in Australia. It has replaced
chlordane as the major termiticide for new construction and soil
treatment in existing structures, but is also used inside buildings3
as an insecticide. Chlorpyrifos is a potent nerve poison six grams
is sufficient to kill an adult.
Common names include: Dursban, Dursban 24E Insecticide, Dursban 6
Insecticidal Concentrate, Dursban 44 Insecticide, Dursban MC
Insectidical Concentrate, Dursban M Insecticide, Dursban F, Lorsban,
Brodan, Eradex, Pyrinex, Dowco 179, OMS-0971, and Dursban-xylene
Insecticidal Mixture, among others.
A 1997 U.S. study of chlorpyrifos residues in a home offered some
surprising results. The home was professionally treated with
chlorpyrifos following the ventilation recommendations printed on
the government-approved label. The residues were then measured on
the surface of a dresser and on the surfaces of children's plastic
toys and cloth toys for two weeks. To the researchers' surprise, the
measurable residues of chlorpyrifos continued to increase for a week
after the initial treatment. They discovered that the pesticide was
entereing the air, then slowly settling out onto plastic and cloth
surfaces, especially children's toys. Based on their measurement of
toys, they estimated a typical child's exposure to chlorpyifos from
this one application: it was 6 to 21 times as high as the
recommended 'safe' dose. Chlorpyrifos was measurable in this
particular home for 2 weeks after the initial application.
Other studies have shown that all sorts of pesticides can be
retained on carpeting and on pets. Also, pets and people's shoes
tend to pick up and carry such pesticides from a treated area into
Know Your Inerts . . .
So-called 'inerts', or the inert ingredients in pesticides
usually form the bulk of the product's makeup and are often more
dangerous than the active ingredients 2.
A federal court in the U.S. has ruled that the Environmental
Protection Authority must disclose all inert ingredients in
pesticides marketed in that country. For years, manufacturers have
hidden the identity of their inerts behind a veil of trade secrecy.
Toxic Chemical Combinations
Studies have shown that some combinations of hormone-disrupting
chemicals are more powerful when combined (either intentionally or
accidentally) than if applied in isolation. Two or three common
pesticides that are combined are up to 1,600 times more toxic than
when used alone. The Gulf War Syndrome is thought to have been
caused in this way. (The UK Ministry of Defence has admitted that
Gulf War syndrome which has manifested as a variety of illnesses
related to damage of the nervous system, is caused by