FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: Fri Mar 19 16:42:03 EDT 2010

Household pesticide labels lack details on safe use

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Monday, March 22, 12:30 p.m., Eastern Time

Label directions for using some household pesticides are written in a way that may leave consumers with the impression that “if a little is good, more is better,” according to a study presented here today at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). As a result, consumers may use excessive amounts of pesticides that could subject family members and pets to increased exposures.

In the study, Linda M. Hall, Ph.D., and colleagues found that minimum and maximum doses are clearly listed on labels for agricultural pesticides. Labels for a household pesticide such as para-dichlorobenzene mention the minimum amount for consumers to use, but don’t indicate the maximum amount to be used. Para-dichlorobenzene is (pDCB) the active ingredient in mothballs and other products used to protect silk, wool, and other natural fibers against moths and beetles; caged birds against lice and mites; and for mildew prevention. Hall is with the California Environmental Protection Agency.

Their review of pDCB labels found that manufacturers specify a minimum rate of application (such as ounces or pounds per cubic foot of storage space) and a minimum treatment time, but no information on the maximum amount for safe use. “While this label sets conditions to protect against the pest insects, it allows consumers to follow the old adage, ‘if a little is good, more is better’! Thus, there is no limit on the amount that may be used per cubic foot of storage space. This might account, in part, for the high levels of pDCB seen among some consumers.”


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empty
Labels on moth balls and other household
pesticides don’t provide enough information
on safe use, researchers say.
Credit: Michael Bernstein,
American Chemical Society.
(High-resolution version)