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EPA ANNOUNCES LABEL CHANGES FOR METHYL BROMIDE IN HOME FUMIGATION

EPA ANNOUNCES LABEL CHANGES FOR METHYL BROMIDE IN HOME FUMIGATION
 SAN FRANCISCO, April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) today announced that the registrants and manufacturers of the pesticide methyl bromide have indicated that they will voluntarily agree to interim label changes for products used to fumigate homes and other structures to destroy powder post beetles, termites and other wood-destroying insects. The label changes are prompted by toxicology and exposure information which show that there may be a health risk for people reoccupying their homes too soon following treatment by methyl bromide.
 Yesterday, the Department of Pesticide Regulation of the California State Environmental Protection Agency (Cal-EPA) announced interim emergency measures to initiate changes covered by the label agreement. U.S. EPA and Cal-EPA have cooperated to bring about the necessary label changes for methyl bromide.
 The label changes will reduce exposure by requiring the following actions: Applicators of methyl bromide must aerate homes and structures for 72 hours to seven days after the tarp is removed -- the time depends upon aeration methods used and test results -- before reentry; and applicators will be required to provide residents of fumigated structures with information explaining the potential hazards of fumigation with methyl bromide.
 "According to the agreement reached with the registrants, the new label changes will be made as soon as possible, certainly within the next several weeks," said Linda Fisher, U.S. EPA's Assistant Administrator for Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. "In the meantime, we are asking companies involved in home fumigation activities to follow the new label directions voluntarily.
 "The State of California is showing leadership on this issue. We fully support the emergency measures they announced yesterday to affect the way homes and structures are fumigated. With the cooperation we have received from the companies that manufacture methyl bromide, we are confident that necessary efforts will be made to reduce exposure immediately."
 Animal studies show that methyl bromide is acutely toxic (primarily affecting the nervous system) and causes birth defects at excessive dose levels. "We are not aware of any evidence of birth defects in humans from the use of methyl bromide to fumigate homes," said Fisher. "However, it is imperative that every measure be taken to assure public health is protected."
 To fumigate a home or structure with methyl bromide, a tarp is used to completely cover the dwelling. The pesticide, in the form of a gas, is pumped into the structure. As a safety precaution, a strong odorous product, chloropicrin, is added to the pesticide. The tarp is removed after 24 to 48 hours and the home is well ventilated before occupants are allowed to reoccupy the home.
 According to current practices, the home may be reoccupied only after the ambient level in the structure drops to five parts per million. Recent data, however, indicate that methyl bromide levels may rise after the structure has been vented and closed up again in preparation for reoccupancy. The data show that gas absorbed during treatment by walls, ceiling, carpet and furniture may take several days to dissipate completely.
 Methyl bromide and sulfuryl fluoride are the two major pesticides used in the fumigation of homes. While both are acutely toxic, there is no evidence that sulfuryl fluoride causes birth defects in animals. In a separate action, U.S. EPA is also approving some label changes proposed by the registrant of sulfuryl fluoride which will increase requirements for post-treatment clearance activities and reduce potential exposure levels before residents reenter treated dwellings.
 In addition to home and structural uses, methyl bromide is used primarily as a soil fumigant to control nematodes, other soil insects, weeds and rodents. Other uses include the fumigation frequently required for interstate shipment or export of commodities such as stored grain and processed food and fresh produce. U.S. EPA does not believe that residues of methyl bromide in food, as a result of fumigation, pose a significant risk.
 In the coming weeks, U.S. EPA, working with Cal-EPA/DPR, will be reexamining the interim measures adopted today, requiring additional exposure studies and reassessing all uses of methyl bromide to be assured that adequate margins of safety are provided to people, such as workers, who may be exposed to this pesticide. Currently, a self- contained breathing apparatus is required for all applicators.
 The technical registrants of methyl bromide are Great Lakes Chemical Corp. of West Lafayette, Ind., Ethyl Corp. of Baton Rouge, La., and Ameribrom Inc. of New York City.
 -0- 4/3/92
 /CONTACT: Bill Glenn of U.S. EPA, 415-744-1589/ CO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ST: IN: SU:


RM -- SF009 -- 4967 04/03/92 15:52 EST
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Date:Apr 3, 1992
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