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Homeowners Lose Another Popular Pesticide

Just months after consumers lost Dursban as a home pest control product, a major maker of diazinon has announced plans to phase it out of the market.

Syngenta Crop Protection announced Dec. 5 its plans to phase out the popular pesticide over the next four years. The company has planned and coordinated the phase-out with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Agricultural Uses Only After 2004

Other makers will continue to sell diazinon for farm uses after 2004.

"EPA is assessing many chemicals now on the market as part of the implementation of the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996," said Paul Guillebeau, a pesticide coordinator with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

"The FQPA is fundamentally changing the way U.S. pesticides are regulated," Guillebeau said. "Several products have been removed from the market. And I'm sure several more will be removed in the near future."

EPA removed methyl parathion and azinphos methyl from the market in the summer of 1999 and chlorpyrifos in August 2000. Chlorpyrifos is commonly known as Dursban or Lorsban.

Diazinon was first marketed in 1954. It has been used since then for both farm and home uses.

Was Great at Fighting Surface-Feeding Turf Insects

"Diazinon is primarily used to control turf pests like armyworms, chinch bugs, cutworms, spittlebugs, mealybugs and aphids, and pests like fleas and ticks that are found in turf," said Kris Braman, a UGA CAES entomologist. "Diazinon and Dursban were both great products for controlling surface-feeding insects."

Many pest-control choices are on the market. But Braman said losing both Dursban and diazinon will be an adjustment for homeowners.

"These products are known as the tried-and-true pesticides," Braman said. "And if other chemicals continue to be pulled, the choices out there will continue to be reduced."

Read Labels and Pick an Alternative

Products for fighting turf and lawn pests are still on the market. "Consumers are just going to have to start reading labels and selecting alternatives," Braman said.

"Other materials available now that fit the bill are Orthene, Dylox, Talstar, Dipel, Sevin, Scott's Grub Ex and the newer products like Bayer's Advanced Lawn and Garden," she said. "The Bayer products come in blue bottles or bags, so they are easy to spot."

As long as diazinon is on the counter, buy it, Braman said. But don't stock up.

"You shouldn't buy more of any pesticide product than you need," she said, "because they lose their effectiveness. And then disposing of those pesticides would become a problem."

On the downside, shoppers may pay more for these new products than they were paying for Dursban and diazinon. "I hate to see us lose these products, because they were effective and inexpensive," Braman said.

(Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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