California watchdog sues Dow over cancer-causing pesticide

The Center of Environmental Health, a national watchdog group, has filed a lawsuit against Dow Chemical, because of the cancer risks related to its pesticide Telone, also known as 1,3-D. “Telone … is a known carcinogen that pollutes dozens of rural areas throughout California; it is the third most heavily used pesticide in the state, and has been found to linger in the air for days after application,” says a CEH press release.

The lawsuit seeks to force Dow to limit the use of Telone in Shafter, Calif., where data monitors stationed at a high school recently found high Telone levels in the air. CEH argues that the amounts discovered are in violation of California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, Prop 65. The suit also calls on Dow to alert local residents in the town before a Telone application takes place.

In Watsonville, parents learned last week that a farm less than a 1,000 feet from a local elementary school would be applying Telone while school was in session. As FERN reporter Liza Gross reported in “Fields of Toxic Pesticides,” California’s Latino children are much more likely to face risks from pesticide exposures. Latinos make up nearly 70 percent of the population in the 10 California zip codes with the highest pesticide use, according to Gross’s investigation.

As for Telone, the chemical “was banned in California in 1990 after studies showed air pollution from the chemical lingered near farms. But the toxic fumigant was allowed back on the market, with conditions, following lobbying by Dow,” says CEH. “In 2002, the state DPR loosened the restrictions on Telone over the objections of its own scientists who stated, “Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) scientists do not agree and suggest that [the new rules] may actually increase cancer risk.”

The Center for Investigative Reporting found that more than one million people live in California communities where Telone use exceeds the original safety threshold.