Ethylene Dibromide (EDB)

Much attention has recently been focused on the chemical ethylene dibromide (EDB). This chemical has been widely used in leaded gasoline, and has also been used to treat grains, citrus and other crops. It has been found in foods and in groundwater. This paper examines the possible health effects of exposure to EDB, as well as its regulation. The possible health effects and regulation of various chemical and physical alternatives to EDB are also examined. This paper concludes with some policy considerations pertinent to EDB.

Congressional Research Service The Library of Congress Washington, D.C. 20540 ETHYLENE DIBROMIDE (EDB) IP0280E Ethylene dibromide (EDB) has been produced in the United States since the mid-1920s. Currently most EDB is used as an additive to leaded gasoline, but approximately 10 percent is used as a pesticidal fumigant in citrus groves and in grain and milling equipment. It is this latter use which has recently become the center of controversy. Laboratory animal tests have shown EDB is a highly potent carcinogen and mutagen and can cause reproductive problems. Concern has arisen over both pesticide workers' exposure to the chemical and EDB contamination of food stocks and groundwater. The Environmental Prctection Agency has imposed an emergency ban on most agricultural uses of EDB. This Info Pack contains background material on EDB and the controversy surrounding it. Additional information may be found in a public library by consulting such sources as the Public Affairs Information Service Bulletin, the New York Times Index, and the General Science Index. Members of Congress desiring additional information on this topic may call CRS at 287-5700. We hope this information is helpful. Congressional Reference Division After 7 years, the Environmental Protection Agency finally proposes a wmplete phaseout of the pesticide, but that upsets USDA Florida's recent action in banning the sale of more than 70 grain produfts contaminated with the pesticide ethylene dibromide (EDB) has brought to the boil an issue that has been simmering on the back burners of federal regulatory agencies for 7 years. The Environmental Rotection Agency (EPA) first moved to control uses of EDB in 1977, but protests from manufacturers and users and lack of attention during the k t 2% yean of the Reagan Administration have so far thwarted federal action. Florida decided to take matters into its own hands and pulled off grocer's shelves a variety of nationally marketed grain products under brand names such as Betty Crocker, Aunt Jemima, and Pillsbury. Other states have since found EDB-tainted products in their territories, which has sent EPA scrambling to determine what levels of the pesticide should be permitted in food. Farmers and food manufacturers, fearing that the agency could declare a large portion of the nation's grain supply inedible, have called on Secretary of Agriculture John Block to press their case with EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus. EDB is a popular pesticide because it is effective and versatile. For the past 40 yean, farmers have applied EDB to control insect infestation in stored grain. For 20 years, many grain companies have fumigated milling machinery with the chemical. More recently, use of the pesticide has broadened. Fanners in the Southeast and Southwest have injected EDB into soil to kill nematodes before planting crops. During the 1981 medfly crisis, California fumigated fruit grown in-state with EDB and subsequently required imported fruit-primarily that shipped from Florida and Texas--to undergo EDB fumigation. Florida and other states also fumigate citrus fruit shipped to Japan. State and federal oficials now realize that EDB's extensive use has led to a widespread problem. A significant portion of the country's processed grain products may have some contamination, according to EPA's expert on the pesticide, Richard Johnson. So far, he says, 30 percent of the packaged grain products tested by various sources show contamination. (Preliminary studies by Florida indicate that cooking may dissipate about 80 percent of the pesticide, but more experiments are being conducted.) In the late 1970's. researchers discovered that EDB doesn't dissipate in food as previously assumed. Pesticide residues can persist in fumigored citrus fruit for several days and in grain for months. Last summer California, Florida, Hawaii, and Georgia discovered that ground water in various areas was polluted with EDB from soil fumigation. Most recently, California announced that Florida citrus shipped to the state had worrisome EDB concentrations in the pulp. The danger to humans from low-level, long-term exposure is not yet clear because no reliable epidemiological studies are available. But according to EPA documents, animal studies demonstrate that EDB is highly toxic. Experiments show that the chemical causes cancer, gene mutations, and reproductive damage in a variety of animal species. Studies by federal agencies in the 1970's indicated that the pesticide is carcinogenic in rats and mice at 20,000 parts per billion (ppb). If EDB were a new chemical, it would never pass muster with current environmental law, according to several federal environmental officials. Given the animal data and the recent reports of contamination in water and food, EPA officials are now trying to decide whether the agency should issue stricter regulations by declaring an immediate end to all uses of the pesticide. In September, it banned the sale and distribution of EDB as a soil fumigant and said it wants a phaseout of other uses over the next year. The phaseout, however, has been appealed by members of the agricultural community, the chemical industry, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This could delay full cancellation of all EDB use until 1986. EPA's task is also complicated by the fact that the Reagan Administration's Caribbean Basin initiative promotes the importation of tropical fruit from Caribbean counbies. USDA import regulations cannot be met without use of the pesticide. The U.S. Agency for International Development, at the urging of USDA, is currently deciding whether it too should appeal EPA's action. EPA officials are also working feverishly to determine what concentration of the pesticide should be allowed in food because currently there is no federal tolerance standard for EDB. Florida officials, without waiting for federal guidance, concluded that 1 ppb is unacceptable. The 76 products that were banned contained an average range of I5 to 20 ppb of the pesticide, but one food sample went as high as 755 ppb. The Grocery SCIENCE, VOL. 223 2/3/84 d p i $ e r y c a n Association f o r t% Advancement of Science. R e m i n t e d by t h e l i b r a r y of Congress, Congressional Research S e r v i c e v i t h permission of c o p v r i g h t claimant. / Manufacturers of America, a national trade group, is fighting the ban tooth and nail bJC!so far has been unsuccessful in obtafning a federaf injunction. EPA is expected to announce a standard within the next month. Regulatory action on EDB has been impeded by two factors. When EPA suspects that a pesticide poses an unacceptable health hazard, federal law requires it to develop regulatory proposals by weighing the risks and benefits and then seeking public comment. In the case of EDB, industry objected at every step of the way. And under former EPA administrator Anne Burford further progress came to a virtual halt. After EPA gave notice in 1977 that it intended to regulate the pesticide on the basis of the animal data, the process from start to regulatory finish was to last 43 weeks. The procedure bogged down immediately. Industry inundated the agency with documents disputing the findings. It also insisted that there were no good alternatives to replace the pesticide. Three years later, EPA had completed only the first step of the review. In December 1980,just before the Carter Administration exited, the agency issued a comprehensive report that rejected almost all the criticisms raised by the chemical companies and the agricultural community and went on to propose greater restrictions on EDB's use. The report, written by Johnson, proposed - severe limits on EDB's use as a soil fumigant. At that point, EPA did not call for an outright ban because it lacked firm evidence of ground water pollution. It also recommended a gradual elimination of EDB as a fumigant of stored grain, milling machinery, and citrus fruit, arguing that the potential economic losses would be negligible to fanners and othe n . It proposed a phaseout in 3 years to allow the food industry sufficient time to develop alternatives to the pesticide. In the long run, EPA contended, the health risks far outweighed the financial considerations. The agency came to this conclusion after it uncovered some startling findings. For decades, it was generally assumed that the pesticide was volatile and left no residue in food. In the late 1970's. however, a number of researchers discovered that the pesticide does not dissipate. One study showed that EDB persisted in wheat with levels reaching 500 ppb 3 months after fumigation. EPA's own scientists confumed the problem of contamination. From a USDA laboratory, EPA officials obtained batches of wheat flour that had been distributed across the country as part of federal food 3 FEBRUARY 1984 subsidies, including the School Lunch Program. EPA scientists reported in 1980 that all the samples contained the pesticide. (Later analyses in 1981 revealed that soltie of these wheat samples contained up to 4200 ppb. The samples were then made intebiscuits, which registered levels averaging about 37 ppb.) Armed with the 1980 information and results from several -other studies on EDB residue in grain and citrus fruit, the agency calculated that exposure to the pesticide in an average diet could increase a person's risk of cancer by a factor of 3 in 10,000. In the past. an increased cancer risk of even 1 in 1,000,000 triggered regulatory action. The agency's recommendations were coldly received by the new Reagan a g pointees. Block wrote EPA, prior to Burford's anival, that the proposed cancellation was unacceptable because al- ternatives could not be developed by the 3-year deadline even though EPA had concluded the industry could substitute other pest control methods for the pesticide. He said the proposal would also place financial burdens on the food industry. He did not acknowledge EPA's concern about the health risks of the pesticide through dietary exposure, except to state that he wanted more data to determine residues in food. The pesticide issue was also stymied at EPA by John Todhunter, then head of the Otfice of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, who resigned in the wake of Burford's controversial departure. A hearing held in September by Representative Mike Synar (D-OkJa.), chairman of a subcommittee of the Government Operations Committee, revealed that Todhunter had demanded numerous revisions of the agency's EDB report. Florida Flip-Flops on EDB Florida seems to want to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to the issue of ethylene dibromide. On one hand, the state's agriculture department acted aggressively and banned the sale of food products that contain minute amounts of EDB. On the other, the department is also trying to protect the state's profitabk citrus and vegetable crops and has repeatedly objected to strider regulation of the pesticide by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The discrepancy between Florida's actions on the pesticide stems from the existence of two separate groups of officials within the state's department of agriculture that apparently do not see eye to eye on EDB. Om branch, the department of citrus, has coasistently argued that the economic and agricultural benefits of EDB far outweigh any health hazard. It maintained this position even though studies in the late 1970's showed EDB residues persist in fumigated h i t . California, however, reported in December that recent shipments of Florida citrus were tainted with unusually high levels of EDB and expressed concern. Florida subsequently ceased shipment of all EDB-fumigated fruit to California until the fed& government develops a tolerance level. This loss of market wuld w s t the Florida citrus growers, already hard hit this winter by freezing weather, millions of dollars. The cibus department's attitude toward EDB conaasts markedly with its bureaucratic sibling, the department of health and rehabilitative services. EDB "has no business being there (in food]," states ThoAtkinson, chief of the state's mvirorunental epidemiology branch. How does one account for the d i i n n c e of opinion bctwcen the two departments? One possible explanation is that the ban on EDB-coataminat4 g r a i ~products doesn't intlict major losses on the state's own economy, whik cutting off exports of EDB-fumigated h i t dots. Fbrida has another hertdPche related to EDB. Farmen have used the pesticide extensively as a soil hmigant. Studies completed since last summa show that 500 wells in 12 counties have detectable levels of EDB. One well had concentratioas in a range of 300 to 600 ppb, according to EPA chemist Stuart Cohm. The severity uf the problem may stam from a bureauaatic snafu by the USDA and EPA. A USDA handbook coatained inatructions to apply the pesticide much more fi-cquently and at higher coocentmtions than EPA ramnmends. Farmers apparently heeded the agriculture departwnt.-M.S. Synar also presented documents indicating that Todhunter and associates held private meetings with members of Florida's citrus growers and vegetable industry. Todhunter at the hearing denied he attended some of the meetings; another. he insisted, had no influence on the agency's decision-making. According to recent interviews with EPA officials, Todhunter also gutted the agency division in charge of handling these types of special pesticide reviews. Although the agency had some 9C-pesticides on a roster for reexamination, Todhunter slashed the staff from 128 to about 20. Time trickled away until last summer when California reported ground water contamination. The discovery was "the straw that broke the camel's back," said Johnson, who is still head of the agency's EDB team. After a 3-year hiatus, the agency set to work on a new set of regulations. In 2 weeks, Johnson and colleagues produced another lengthy report and pushed even harsher rules. Based on additional information, EPA calculated that the cancer risk was an order of magnitude higher than its 1980 estimates. Again, the citrus industry, farmers, and chemical companies objected and have formally appealed EPA's action on the grounds that there are no good alternatives to the pesticide. USDA, which recently held private meetings with industry, has also intervened. Settling the differences could take another 2 years, but the revelation of EDB-tainted food and heightened public awareness may speed up the process. EPA has said that several methods show promise as a substitute for EDB fumigation, but they have all been poohpoohed by the agriculture department. According to EPA, citrus fruit could be treated by irradiation or another procedure that subjects fruit to cold temperatures; for stored grain, other chemicals could be applied. Florida citrus growers protest that without EDB, they will lose the $25-million grapefruit market in Japan. The Japanese government, however, has accepted citrus fruit treated by the cold storage method "for a long time," says Hisao Azuma, an agriculture official at the Japanese embassy in Washington. Despite EPA's desire to regulate the pesticide since 1977, efforts at USDA to help farmers and citrus growers develop other methods have been meager, according to a recent study on EDB by the General Accounting Office. In a briefing submitted last spring to Representative George Brown, Jr. {D-Calif.), chairman of the Agriculture Committee's subcom466 mittee on research, the General Accounting Office said studies by USDA have "been limited to short-term research projects. . . . This crisis-oriented research resulted in the postponement of broader-scoped, long-term research. " It noted that since 1977, it has twice advised USDA to develop an agency-wide plan for research and development, but to no avail. An EPA official recently put it this way, "Without an all-out cancellation industry wouldn't consider alternatives. Now we'm canceling a d they're screaming there are no alternatives." The General Accounting Office also faulted EPA's regulatory process. It cited several problems, concluding that the agency has "emphasized starting, but not completing the process, planned poorly, [and] not resolved several important policy and procedural issues. . . ." One interesting fact in EDB'S regulatory history is that the House Agriculture Committee, which has jurisdiction over pesticide use, has yet to examine the problems with the pesticide and EPA's role. Despite the strong criticisms by the General Accounting Office, Brown did not pursue the matter with his usual keen interest in pesticide problems. Some sources allege that other committee members told Brown to lay off EDB because of its wide importance to their constituents, but Brown denies this. Nevertheless, Synar and other legislaton are going after the topic. Senator Dave Durenberger (R-Minn.), chairman of the oversight subcommittee of the Environment and Public Works Committee, will hold an EDB hearing on 27 January. EPA is now pondering what to do next. On the issue of citrus fumigation, Edwin Johnsor), head of EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs, says that thiagency may choose a tolerance standard "at the lowest level we can set and still fumigate effectively." With grain products, Richard Johnson believes that Florida's cutoff point of 1 ppb is probably too harsh. Although he had hoped that EDB's use as a grain and citrus fumigant would have ended last summer, Johnson says 1 ppb standard would be too disruptive to the nation's economy and its food s u p ply. "We are not dealing with a crisis [to health]," he said. Noting that the agency has already taken 7 years to achieve any substantive regulation of EDB, "Another year is not going to make that much ditference." Meanwhile, the special review process at EPA has not been overhauled, its staff has not beenreconstituted, and the list of pesticides slated for reevaluation continues 10 grow. ---MAFLJORIE .S w . Spouight on Pest Reflects on Pesticide Use of ethylene dibromide in Medfly quarantine has impact on regulatory process, other side effects The Reagan Administration entered the regulatory arena a year ago with the emphatically stated purpose of ensuring that the costs of regulation were fully weighed against its benefits. One of the decisions facing it involved a chemical called ethylene dibromide (EDB), which has been at the center of a regulatory battle since the mid-1970's and gained 1592 special notice last year during the Medfly crisis in California. EDB is the kind of compound offering both high risks and high benefits that can render such decisions hard to make. EDB is one of the most effective and widely used pesticidal fumigants for fruits and vegetables. It is also highly controversial because animal tests have 0036-8075/8Y03261592501 0010 Copyright O 1982 AAAS @ American A s s o c i a t i o n f o r t h e Advancement of Science. indicated that EDB is a carcinogen and mutagen and causes reproductive problems. Both the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) have proposed stricter regulation of EDB. The EPA, in fact. in 1980 proposed suspending the use of EDB as a fumigant for grain immediately and for citrus fruit in mid-1983. A major difficulty in dealing with EDB is that no ready alternative is available. EPA's proposal to ban EDB in 1983 as a fumigant for citrus fruit is based on the assumption that irradiation of produce with gamma rays will be scientifically and commercially feasible by then. However, despite recent developments that appear to markedly improve prospects for wider use of gamma irradiation in the United States, EPA's upbeat view on timing has been widely questioned. Although the regulatory tussle over EDB began in the mid-1970's. it received little public attention until last year, when EDB was used as a citrus fumigant in California to counter the Mediterranean fruit fly. That action, which was taken to comply with federal Medfly quarantine restrictions, raised the economic and poiitical stakes in the EDB case, prompted an interstate wrangle over shipments of fumigated fruit, and dealt a serious setback to the lucrative export of SCIENCE.VOL. 215. 26 MARQH Reprinted by t h e L i b r a r j of Congress, C o n ~ r e s s i o n a lResearch S e r v i c e with n e r m i s s i o n of c o ~ y r i g h tc l a i m a n t . 1932 Calibrnia produce to Japan (see box below). Use of EDB in California also led to a sharp public dispute between an EPA scientist and agency officials over the degree of hazard posed by EDB. Such differences can be difficult to resolve under existing law. EDB is a synthetic organic chemical (1,2-dibromoethane)used primarily in an antiknock additive to gasoline. Other uses. besides treatment of produce, include fumigation of stored grain, preplanting treatment of soil to protect against nematodes, and treatment of stored logs and flour mill machinery. Only about 10 percent of the ED9 manufactured is used in pesticides. As a pesticide, EDB is regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Since 1972, when strengthening amendments were added, pesticides already on the market must be deemed safe to win "reregistration." The lawyerly name for the registration process is Rebuttable Presumption Against Registration (RPAR), which provides oppsrttlniues for comment froni both sides at each major stage. The first challenge to EDB came from the Environmental Defense Fund, which in the mid-1970's petitioned to have EDB's registration as a pesticide canceled mainly on the grounds of a Natioaa1 Cancer Institute (NCI) study showing that the chemical was a cancer-causing agent. The 1977 study showed a statistically significant increase in squamous cancer cells in the forestomach of rats and mice EDB Causes a Regulatory Ripple Effect The controversy over ethylene dibromide (EDB) was canied to California on the wings of the Mediterranean fruit fly. A regulatory ripple effect began last summer when the state Air Resources Board expressed concern about the containment and recovery of gases that would be produced in a massive EDB fumigation program required by a Medfly quarantine. California's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal OSHA) responded in September by proposing a drastic tightening of standards for EDB vapor in ambient air to 15 parts per billion (ppb) from the prevailing federal OSHA standard of 20 parts per million. Cal OSHA's proposal, which did not bear a specific scientific rationale, was parried by the state Ofice of Administrative Law, which acts as a watchdog agency on regulatory matters, and a less rigorous standard of 130 ppb was set. This accorded with a 1977 recommendation emanating from the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety. Cal OSHA. meanwhile, had circularized employers and workers about the dangers of EDB; one result was that longshoremen refused to load fumigated fruit being exported to Japan. News of the EDB controversy also reached Japan, where dockworkers refused to handle fumigated fruit arriving in their country until Cal OSHA exposure standards were adopted. They were. The Japanese government, however. was concerned to keep out the Medfly and insisted on EDB fumigation of all fruit from California. not simply from the quarantined area. Citrus exports to Japan are important to California agriculture since they total about $100 million a year; exports of lemons account for about two thirds. The lemon crop was heavily affected since the bulk of lemon exports to Japan are shipped in late summer and autumn when the new restrictions took effect. Losses are estimated at more than $16 million last year. The Cal OSHA standards also had consequences closer to home. The new restrictions inspired a boycott in California of produce shipped in from Texas and Florida. both of which have their own EDB fumigation programs. High EDB residues were not the main bogey. The new Cal OSHA rules specified that work areas in which EDB vapors might be present must be placarded with warnings of the dangers of exposure. California supermarket chains apparently decided that such placards would alarm workers and customers and, conceivably. if the placards were missing, open the way to lawsuits. To avoid the problem. SCIENCE. VOL. 215. 26 MARCH 1982 the chains decided simply not to handle the produce from out of state. Events in California also had an impact on the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Last September the International Brotherhood of Teamsters filed a petition asking for an emergency temporary standard reducing the permissible EDB exposure level to 15 ppb for an 8-hour day. This sparked a federal OSHA review of EDB. OSHA often takes cues on determination of hazards from EPA, but operates its own parallel regulatory process since it is responsible for setting ambient air standards to protect workers who come into contact with pesticides on the job. On 18 December, OSHA announced that the results of studies on experimental animals "indicated that present permissible exposure levels for EDB of 20 parts per million (ppm) as an 8 hour average . . . exposure does not provide exposed workers adequate protection against cancer and other health effects." OSHA asked for comments to be submitted by the end of February and then on 26 February extended the deadline to 31 March. As for the original Teamsters petition for a temporary standard, however, OSHA denied the request on grounds that very little information was available about the nature and extent of employee exposure to EDB on a nationwide basis. The EDB controversy had received national attention, however, and a high-level interagency task force was formed last autumn under the aegis of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to look at the problem. The task force ended its labors without making any direct recommendation on regulatory issues. but it did inspire some specific studies to determine actual exposure levels, including efforts to follow fumigated fruits crosscountry and measure the persistence of EDB residues in trucks. warehouses, stores, docks, and ships. The results should help narrow the information gap and be taken into account in the final EPA decision. On the export fruit, negotiations with the Japanese early this year apparently alleviated difficulties somewhat. The Japanese agreed to allow cold treatment of citrus fruit on the passage to Japan. Lemons from outside the regulated arras in California will be allowed into Japan unfumigated until 10 April. when the matter will be reviewed. That is about the time a new generation of Medflies will be emerging-if they have survived the spraying campaign and the winter-to begin a new chapter for the Medfly and EDB.-J.W. that had been fed on the compound. Later studies by Midwest Research Institute and NCI demonstrated that inhalation of EDB increased tumors in several sites in experimental animals. Evidence of the mutagenic potency of EDB and of reproductive disorders in bulls and rats induced by EDB were also cited. Cancellation of registration for a pesticide requires a determination that the pesticide "no longer satisfies the statutory standard for registration. " According to FIFRA language, that occurs when there is "an unreasonable risk to a man or the environment, taking into account the economic, social and environmental costs and benefits of the use of any pesticide." In other words, the law clearly states that the benefits of continued use must be weighed against the potential hazards. Nonproliferation Post Vacant The State Department official who had been expected to take the lead in putting the Reagan Administration stamp on U.S. nuclear nonproliferation policy has been relieved of that responsibility. James L. Malone will continue to head the U.S. delegation to the Law of the Sea negotiations, which are now in progress, but will be replaced in the sub-cabinet post of assistant secretary for Oceans and International Environment and Scientific Affairs (OES). No successor to Malone has been named and his removal leaves in question the direction of U.S. policy for nonproliferation and reopens the chronic question of the status of science and technology in U.S. diplomacy. Assignment of Malone full-time to Law of the Sea duties was attributed by a State Department spokesman to the need for the negotiations to have the "full and undivided attention of the senior U.S. official." Sources at State say that the decision to move Malone was made after President Reagan's announcement on 29 January that the Administration was determined to see negotiation of an "acceptable treaty" from the U.S. point of view (Science, 19 March. p. 1480). State Department spokesman Dean Fisher on 9 March rejected outright a Washington Post report on the previous day that Malone had been removed from the OES post because he had not succeeded in increasing exports of U.S. nuclear technology. Malone has been identified with proposals to consolidate in the State Department authority over nuclear exports which is now shared with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Malone was a member of the Reagan transition team for the State Department and Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and is said to be the author of the team report that put emphasis on more vigorous promotion of nuclear trade. Since his confirmation to the OES post last May. Malone has been the most active Administration spokesman on nonproliferation policy. As to who will exercise principal influence in nonproliferation affairs at State in future. speculation centers on Under Secretary for Management Richard T. Kennedy. A former NRC commissioner. Kennedy is known to be interested in nonproliferation issues. He was ceded general oversight of nonproliferation issues early in the Administration and has worn an additional hat as ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency In Vienna, which deals with nuclear safeguards. But his chief duty. managing operations of the department, was thought to leave him little t i n e to devote to making nonproliferation policy. There is some irony in the timing of Malone's reassignment since it occurred just as three appointees to staff positions with hey responsibilities in nonproliferation matters had joined OES after iong delays. OES is formally responsible for a wide range of issues involving science and technology and foreign policy. But Malone's early departure and the preoccupation of the office with Law of the Sea and nonproliferation issues in the first year of the Administration has rekindled long-term concerns about the capacity of OES to play an effective role fur ihe United Statss in behalf of science and technology in international affai~s. -JOHN WALSH 1594 0036-807518210326-1594SOI .OX0 Copynght O 1982 AAAS The FIFRA standard is obviwsly much less clear-cut than that set by the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act which. through the so-called Delaney clause, forbids the presence of any element that is shown to cause cancer in animals regardless of level of exposure. In December 1977. EPA published a notice that it was starting the RPAR process for EDB and invited interested persons to submit rebuttals or other information on hazards. Three years later. in December 1980, the agency took the next major step by announcing the availability of a "position document" setting forth EPA's review of the evidence. The EPA notice said "the Agency has concluded that the presumptions for oncogenicity, mutagenicity and reproductive disorders have not been rebutted." Also announced was a "preliminary decision" to cancel use of EDB on stored grain immediately and on citrus and tropical fruits effective 1 July 1983. Other uses would be continued but on a restricted basis. There is little disagreement that more information on EDB residue levels is needed or that workers could be better protected. Nor, in fact, is anyone really arguing that EDB is a benign chemical. The 1980 EPA notice says flatly, "It should be emphasized that the Agency believes that, in the long run, measures short of outright cancellation will not reduce the risks sufficiently to alter the conclusion that the use of EDB for quarantine fumigation of citrus, tropical fruits, and vegetables poses unreasonable adverse effects on the environment." What to do in the short run, however, is the issue. Both the Secretary of Agriculture and the FIFRA scientific advisory panel, whose comments are formally required in the RPAR process, last spring recommended continued use of EDB on citrus. In both cases, lack of an acceptable alternative was cited as the major reason. The advisory panel's statement notes the difficulty in evaluating the feasibility of using irradiation as an alternative to EDB and says no other alternative has been "demonstrated to be efficient, pract~cal,and feasible from a cost standpoint." Robert hletcalf of the University of Illinois, a member of the advisory panel when it made iis recommendations on EDB, said that the committee agreed that the substance is a carcinogen and a mutagen and that it produces adverse rcprodwtive effects. He says that EDB is chemically very like dibromochloropropane (DBCP) which was canceled by SCIENCP. VOL 215. 26 MARCH 1982 voluntary action of industry except for minor use o n pineapples in Hawaii. Metcalf said the committee assumed that the similar uses of E D B would be canceled. But, says Metcalf, "the alternatives are as bad o r worse" and the committee reluctantly recommended EDB's continued use during a phaseout. Metcalf says the committee was "very concerned about worker protection," meanwhile, and urged requirements for "better protective clothing and for EDB application by remote control technology." Defenders of EDB have pointed to the lack of convincing epidemiological data demonstrating that EDB poses a hazard to humans and they suggest that this vitiates the animal studies. In response, the panel's statement includes this comment: The Panel notes that it will be very difficult to conduct epidemiological studies that will enable EPA to ignore the results of animal studies. Such epidemiological studies which have been conducted thus far do not provide convincing evidence that animal tests do not accurately predict potential human hazards in the area of oncogenicity and reproductive effects. Therefore, it is necessary to regulate on the basis of animal studies alone. The FIFRA scientific advisory panel has not been active in the recent period of mounting controversy over EDB. Last spring the new Administration decided to dissolve the panel and replace its members with appointees of their own choosing. A list of nominees was published in the Federal Register t o invite public comment, but a new panel has not yet been named. The 1980 EPA notice called for comments on the proposals t o restrict use of the pesticide. Now, more than a year later, the books are still open on EDB. EPA moved against EDB during the last days of the Carter Administration, and it is not surprising that the new Administration took no immediate action o n the pesticide. Then last summer the Administration's first public pronouncement on EDB appeared to downplay the hazards associated with its use. This pronouncement, in the form of a "note to correspondents." focused on exposure hazards and was issued last August in the midst of media attention to the controversy in California over the safety of EDB fumigation. Attributed to John Todhunter. then acting administrator for pesticides and toxic substances and later confirmed t o the post, the notice said that "if the fumigated fruit is allowed to stand in storage o r transit for a sufficient time (4 t o 8 days usually), the risk is minimal." This comment and the rationale sup. SCIENCE, VOL. 215. 26 MARCH 1982 porting it triggered objections from E P A senior scientist Adrian M. Gross, who was then working in the hazards evaluation division. Gross made public a tenpage memo to E P A Administrator Anne M. Gorsuch in which he argued that the cancer risk from short-term exposure to EDB is very high. Basing his attack on NCI studies, Gross criticized a s unsound a risk model favored by Todhunter that was based on an assumption that risk levels decay exponentially a s exposure time is reduced. The impending decision on E D B is not solely a scientific one; rather it is a riskbenefit determination that FIFRA requires but gives little guidance in mak- ing. Steven Jellinek, the E P A assistant administrator with responsibilities for pesticide regulation in the Carter Administration. says EDB is unquestionably a "hot chemical." There are "not a lot of equivocal studies" that put pathologists and toxicologists at odds. Still, E D B presents real difficulties in terms of "complexity and uncertainties of decision-making." The "toughest decision." says Jellinek is "how heavily t o weight the benefits from citrus fumigation," particularly in view of the importance of exports to Japan. The most difficult issue in pesticide regulation, says Jellinek, is "how d o you decide o n a risk-benefit evaluation of a NAE Elects New Members The National Academy of Engineering has elected 49 engineers and 6 foreign associates. This brings the total U.S. membership to 1109. with 97 foreign associates. Following is a list of the new members and foreign associates: Jan D. Achenbach. Technological Institute. Northwestern University: Mihran Agbabian, Agbabian Associates. Engineers and Consultants, El Segundo, Calif.; Gilbert Y. Chin. Bell Laboratories. Murray Hill. N.J.; William C. Metz. General Dynamics Corp., Convair Division. San Diego: Floyd Dunn. University of Illinois. Urbana: Peter S. Eagleson. Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory. Massachusetts lnst~tuteof Technology: John E. Flipse, Texas A & M University; Fred W. Garry. General Electric Co.. Fairfield, Conn.: H. Joseph Gerber. Gerber Scientific. Inc.. South Windsor. Conn.: Bernard Gold. Lincoln Laboratory. MIT: Kent F. Hansen. MIT: Kenneth E. Haughton. San Jose Development, IBM Corp.. Calif.; Robert A. Henle, IBM Corp.. Yorktown Heights. N.Y. R. Richard Heppe. Lockheed-Callfornia Co., Burbank: Donald R. Herriott. Bell Laboratories: Irwin M. Jacobs. LINKABIT Corp.. San Diego. Calif.: Trevor 0. Jones. TRW. Inc.. Solon. Ohio: Joseph Kestin. Center for Energy Studies. Brown University: Milo S. Ketchum. Ketchum. Konkel. Barrett. Nickel. Austin, Consulting Engmeers: James N. Krebs. General Electric Co.. Lynn. Mass.; John E. Kunzler. Bell Laboratories: Emmett N. Leith. University of Michigan: George Leitmann. College of Engineering. University of California. Berkeley: William E. Leonhard. The Parsons Corp.. Pasadena. Calif.: Hudson Matlock, ERTEC. Consulting Engineers and Geologists. Long Beach. Calif.: Keith W. McHenry, Jr.. Amoco Oil Co.. Napewille. 111.: James R. Melcher. High Voltage Research Laboratory. MIT: Douglas C. Moorhouse. WoodwardClyde Consultants. San Francisco: William R. Opie, AMAX Base Metals Re- ,...., search and Development. Inc.. Caneret. N.J.: Malin K. Oshman. ROLM Corp.. Santa Clara. Calif. Walter L. Robb. General Electric Co.. Milwaukee. Wis.: Stanley T. Rolfe. University of Kansas. Lawrence: James F. Roth. Air Products and Chemicals. Inc.. Allentown, Pa.; Donald G. Russell. Shell Oil Co., Houston: William R. Schowalter, Princeton University: Judith A. Schwan. Eastman Kodak Co.. Rochester, N.Y.: John W. Scott. Chevron Research Co.. Richmond, Calif.; Willard F. Searle, Jr.. Searle Consortium. Ltd.. Alexandria. Va.; John H. Seinfeld. California lnstitute of Technology: John B. Slaughter. National Science Foundation. Washington. D.C.: Victor Szebehely. University of Texas. Austin: Julian Szekely. MIT: Gareth Thomas. National Center for Electron Microscopy. L a ~ r e n c e Berkeley Laboratories. Calif.: Allyn C. Vine. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institurlon. Mass.. An Wang. Wang Laboratories. Inc.. Lowell. Mass.: Paul Weidlinger. Weidlinger Associates. Consultmg Engineers. New York City: Warren E. Winsche. Brookhaven Kat~onal Laboratory. Upton. N.Y. Theodore Y. Wu. California Institute of Technology: Dante C. Youla. Polytechnic Institute of New York. Foreign Associates are: Gunnar Fant. Royal lnstitute of Technology. Stockholm: Fritz H. B. Ingerslev. Technical University of Denmark. Lyngby: Benjamin Levich (Israel). City College. City University of New York: Yi-Sheng T. E. Mao, Railways Research Institute. Beijing, The People's Republic of China: Zenji Nishiyama. Nippon Steel Corp., Yokohama, Kanagawa. Japan: Klaus 0s. watitsch. Technical University, Vienna. Austria. 210326-1595501.0010 Copyright 8 1982 AAAS 1595 pesticide?" Perhaps because of the formidable scientific, political. and econornic factors involved, the issue has been stuck in a "backwater" as far aspolicy attention is concerned. Nevenhe- less, a decision on EDB will have to be made. EPA staff expect that the agency's office of pesticide programs will send its recommendations on EDB forward this spring and that a final decision will be reached by the Administrator this ,:lrrmer. h e environmental stance of 'the new management of EPA will be tested by how it handles what is ultimately a judgment c ~ ~ ~ : - J o HWALSH N Gas Tank to Mill to Disfavor, A Chemical's 60-Year Career By Ward Sinclair Washington P a t SIaflWrlkr Ethylene dibromide (EDB), the newest controversial bad apple in America's food barrel, began its ride to notoriety in the 1920s when acientista discovered that its unusual properties made it an ideal additive for leaded gasoline. EDB was the perfect "scavenger." it could disedve minute particles of lead aad send them out the exhaust, preventing their mmulation es gunk inside automobile engines. The chemical worked then, as it continues to work in gasoline, but that was only the beginning. Its rise to controverey stems largely from its identification as a cancer-causing agent in animals that bas been wed widely in agriculture and food processing. Tbe Environmental Prdection Agency, responding to new concerns about EDB mtamination of ground-water muma and threats to human health, suspended its uee as a soil fumigant in September. Nearly 20 million pounds a year have been used on citrus, pineapples, cotton, peanuts, tobacco and more than two dozen other fruits and vegetables to protect against nernatodegmicTaecopic roundworms that destroy plant roots EPA Administretar William D. Ruckelshaus dropped the other shoe yeeterday, euapending EDB's use and sale as a grain fumigant by mills and atoreto kill weevile and other insects, and proposed residue levels for grain and grain-fooda Although EDB wes exempted in 1956 from federal food-safety vigilance because scientists contended that it would degrade quickly and not persist in foods, later studies raised questions. By 1974, the National Cancer Institute was warning the EPA that tests proved EDB to be a powerful cancer-causing agent in laboratory animals. By 1977, the EPA's carcinogen assessment team w reporting 'strong evidencenthat the pesticide could cause cancer in man. Four years later, the agency had determined that it -&is also a "potent mu@enn+ng enough that it should be removed from the ffood chain. As evidence continued to accumulate, the moves Carter administration began &W to withdraw EDB from use. Less than two weeks before Pmident Carter left office in 1981, his aides proposed that the pesticide be removed from use on The proposal was sheIved by the Reagan administration's review of all pending regulations, then revived k t summer under pressure from states and environmentalists concerned about ground-water poisoning. &I. EDB's agricultural applications were discovered almost by accident in 1943 by Clyde W. &Beth and A1 Taylor, plant pathologiets Bt a U.S. Department of Agriculture experiment station in Tipton, Ga. Their assignment was to test existing chemicals for use as nematocidee-compoumh tbat attack nematodes. As McBeth, now in retirement in Modcsb, Calif., remembers it, be and Taylor d v e d a shipment of EDB from the Dow Chemical Co., which generally is credited with having developedthepmductatits~Mich,lEbe inthe1920aTheytrieditontbeirplaDta "It took us one seamu to determine that it worked as a nematocide;" McBetb anid. 'We tested it in our field plots and got good harveet readtan By 1951, EDB had been rqistad with tbe Agriculture Department trs a peatic& and it wesputtoworkonfarmsallorvertbeunmtry. 'It waa inexpensive, it was effective aad no d u e s were detectable," said Dr. L Vemdn Whib, veteran nematdqist with Greet Lakes Chemical,the We& Lafayette, kut, firm that is one of three major producers of EDR 'It was the best of all three workla" But, as White pointed out yesterday, thet wan a different scientifi era. SpectaEular labomtory sdvancea in residue detection have general awarema of the cbemical impurities that may huk in the cereal box. "This haa becoare a sociopolitical iaaue," White d. "As recently as five years ago, our &kdcapabilitywasdowntolpartper million. All eeeumed that EDB was safe. But nowwemeaBureparteperhillion." Meanwhile, as EDB waa gaining wider acceptance, major chemical firm came up with another nematocide. "EDB wag not proprietary and anyone could develop it," White recalled. The major finne cam up with a new product, dibromochloropropane, or DBCP. One of the developers of DBCP (cbemical kin to EDB, DDT, chlordane, beptach 4 other powerful pesticides) waa &Beth, who left the USDA after he came up with EDB and went to work for Shell Oil in California. DBCP hed aa ed-tage over HIB: it would a&k nem* without killing the plant, d thus could be applied on tbe soil surface mther than having to be injected un. derground. It was simpler to uee, although it mt the fanner more. 4 But then DBCP was discovered to be cawing sterility among male pesticide factory workers and production stopped. Citing ita cancer- and sterility-causing properties, the EPA suspended use of DBCP in 1979. Waiting in the wings, with DBCP banned from rnilliona of m,was its cousin, EDB. McBeth, a sort of foster'father of both pmducts, reacted to the Ruckelshaus announcement yesterday a bi ruefully. "I kind of feel like they've gone averboardl. ?'hey ought to I d out what dosage level causes damage in rats or whatever and relate thattof~,"hesaid."Iknowofwevidence that EDB is a human carcinogen But I'm glad I'm not around. When I was working, we measured in parts per million." .... Experts Are Split on Pesticide Risk By PHILIP M. BOFFEY SpscultDRrNerYcakTi WASHINGTON,Feb. 3 - Leading cancer scientists and health advocates disagyeed sharply today over how great a threat consumers may face from the pesticide EDB. Ai113ng those who regard EDB, or sthwlene dibromide. as an untlfllally potent carcinogen are Samuel S. E p stein,professor of occupatioaaland environmental medicine at the University of Illinois medical center in Chicago, and Sidney Wolfe, head of Ralph Nader's Health Research Group. In interviews, they urged mummers to avoid products apt to be amtamirated by it. But the pesticide was deemed a Mtively minor threat, at the IweIs now being det&ed in food, by three others Interviewed. lhey are Bruce N. Ames, chairman of biochemistry a t the University of California's Berkeley canlprrs; ~ i c h a r d ~ d a m s a n , b e a d o f ~ division of cancer etiology (causation) a t the National Canar Institute, and by Elizabeth Whalan. head of the American Cormcil on Science and Health, a nonprofit gmup that tries to deflate what it meiderg ''chemicat agreed that EDB has been shown to causecammrinra*randmice.Theg disagreed over how potent a cq&m gen it is and over whether the aaunmts nowbeingdetectedinfoodpldwater are cause for alarm. TestaaAIhMb David P. Rall. dhctor of the Natiaaal TQxicdogy Rogram. which mrdinatesalltoxiw cal reseacb hr ih merit Health and Human Services,said the pesticide had But he s a i d that even the lowest doses used in the tests were a t levels of roughly 10 to 50 parts per million, making it difficult to relate them to the parts per billion levels now generally beingtormdinfoodandintheenvirmmeat. He also said there is good scieb tific evidpnce that cooking destroys 80 percent or probably more than 90 percent of the EDB foundin foods. "1 wouldn't panic about things from the store a not eabng what's m the shelf." he said. S i Z i n g U g t h e ~ potency of pesticides and considered EDB to fall "in the middle range" as a He called it a thousand times more hruardousthan saccharin, a carcimgknwhoseuseisacceptedbymuch of tbe public, and a tbousad times less toxic than aflatoxin, a carcinogen that occurs naturally and is found in peanut butterandotherfoods. "My gut feeling is that the public is getting too alarmed over E D B he said. "It cauM be an important risk for worters, but it really is a minor risk in food." Dr. Ames said food cantaminatedby EDB is "no more dangerorrs than peanutbunerandpenmitbutterisp~ ably a pretty low Pist" Tkbiochemiststressedthatheisan udepandent scientist who has never d t e d for irdrrstrg. Dr. Joseph Rodrich, a Washington toxicologist who performed a risk analysis for the Grocery Manufacturera of M c a , caduded that eating ahMnda4lalf charcoal broiled steaks ha-. - He said he viewed EDB as "an extraordinarily potent c?mimgen" b e cause it causedtumors m rats and mice in exceptiooall~ periods, roughly 10toZ4weeks.Healsonutedtbatthe public was being subjected to "wide spread expa~lra." becawe EDB is faundinfood,gmundwaterinsome areas and the air. Dr. Epstein said. leveb up to 700 parts per billion have been found in grain and up to 5,000 parts per billion an citrus fruit. Extrapolating from a risk analysis w o r m e d by the Emriroameatal P m teaion Ag€ncy,Dr. Epstein estimated that EDB might cause 3,000 cancer deaths per year ia the United States under "a realisticworst case." NEW YORK ayearwasmorebzanhs,beca~5eof 3 beenshawntocausecammratthelon- estlevelstestedineachofthe~ ment's three major studies'of the sub tumars. "It's a nasty gubstamx," be said. "It's unusual for virtually 100 percent of the animals to get turnon.'' Dr.-, arhose unit a t the Natioaal Cancer Instin& has reviewed keydataaaEDB, saidtbenwas"very little damC tblbt it is a very toxic arm- trade aSBOCiati6m. Similariy, Dr. Whelan of the Amerian Council on .Science aod Health said: "Under m clramPstanceswould I thmwautmymuWnmix. We'reseeing mass hysteria and panic wer EDB. It's all part of thc g m e d chemical phobia.'' However, Dr. Epstein, author of books m cancer and toxic wastes, advised amumers to stay away from cakeandparrelremixesinparticular andtodemandthatfoodmanufachpem and stores label tbe EDB amtent of tbeupraducts. pomd,"whichcallsescamrand genetic damage in animnlr. 1984 The New York Times. Reproduced by t h e L i b r a r y of Congress, Congressional Research S e r v i c e w i t h permission of c o p y r i g h t c l a i m a n t . TIMES EPA Bans Use of EDB On Grain Voluntary Limits On ~ o n t ~ in n tFood Are Given to States By Cass Peterson WBshlngton Post Stall WrltPf The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday banned the use of ethylene dibromide (EDB) as a pesticide to kill weevils and other pests in grain and issued voluntary guidelines for state officials to use in determining safe residue levels of the cancer-causing chemical in food products. Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia immediately adopted the guidelines, and Maryland warned consumers to avoid several batches of cake and muffin mixes shown to have EDB levels over the recommended limits. EPA Administrator William D. Ruckelshaus said he believed that the guidelines, if followed, are stringent enough to be "fully protective of public healthn during the three or more years it will take tainted grain products to move through the food system. "Our job is to protect the public health and I think we're doing ifn Ruckelshaus said. But environmental and consumer groups, backed by several members of Congress and some state officials, condemned the guidelines as too lax, virtually unenforceable and likely to lead to a "crazy quiltn of state efforts that could leave millions of Americans exposed to dangerous levels of the carcinogen. Some of the strongest reactions, however, came in response to Ruckelshaus' announcement that he was not prepared to decide EDB's fate as a fruit fumigant, the pesticide's remaining major use, nor was he ready to set a residue standard for citrus or tropical fruits. That decision will be announced "in a few weeks," he said, after more information is collected. "If 40 parts per billion is unsafe in your breakfast mfl~n, it is also unsafe in your glass of orange juice," said Sen. David F. Durenbegw (RMlnb), who had urged Ruckelshaus to aUow no EDB residues in citrus fruit. Ruckelahaus said the agency bad found residues as high as 1,000 parts per b i o n in fruit imported from Mexico and Italy. Imported fruit, which must be fumigated, generally accounts for less than 2 percent of the fresh fruit eaten in the United States, although greater quantities have been imported in recent weeks because of widespread frost damage to citrus mps in this country. Ruckelshaus' guidelines for grain products would allow 900 parts per billion of EDB in raw grain intended for human use, 150 parts per billion in "intermediate" products such as flour, mixes, partly cooked rolls and frozen bread dough, and 30 parts per billion in ready-toeat products such as bread, cookies, corn oil and cold cereal. The standard for grain announced yeuterday is nearly double the 500 part-perbillion standard that sources had said earlier this week would be set. The Agriculture Department ah had endorsed a 500 part-per-billion standard for grain. But, according to some sources, the standard Ruckelshaus adopted is slightly lower than the one sought by the grain industry. '"I'be industry wanted 1,000 really bad,'' one source said. The varying levels were aet on the b d i of evidence that the pesticide dissipates as grain mavee through the milling process and is ultimately cooked or baked. Florida and Texas, where EDB contamination has been documented in a variety of common grocery items, appeared likely t~ go along with the guideh a . But Massachusetts and New York .offic* expreseed d'rsappointment with them, and officials in other states said they intended to move cautiously in testiq and recalling foods. , "EF'As' level is not strict enough to protect the public from w c e r risk and, perhape more importantly, the higher risk of reproductive disorders," New York health department spokesman Peter Slocum mid. Because the guidelines are only advisory, they are not binding on state officials. " ~ ist important for people to understand that some states have legal authority to set levels tougher than those recommended by the EPA, and other states have statutes that effectively require them to use EPA's regulations," said JOs p h A. Kinney, an official with the National Governor's Association. "It's just not clear what individual states will do," he said Ruckelvhaus said yesterday that the agency will attempt to make its D B guidelines mandatory, a process that involvea first revoking an exemption that was granted to the chemical in 1956. The process could take six months, assuming no appeals are filed or hearings requested, according to the EPA administrator. But the Natural Resource Defense Cohcil said it would go to court in an attempt to force the EPA to set &stricter, mandatory rules immediately. Council officiah contended thut the dunbay standards are inadequate to protect the public and will prove unworkable for the food industry. 'Industry will have temble problems dealing with a confusing and constantly shifting set of state rules: council attorney Jonathan Lash said. Agricultural organizatione and food producers generally supported Ruckelshaus' action, however. An American Farm Bureau Federation official said farmers "can live with" the guidelines, ana spokesmen for several of the nation's largest grain-processing finns said they believed that virtually all of their products would p a s muster under the voluntary guidelines. Earlier this week, when sources said that Ruckelshaus would set more stringent standards for grain, markets reacted with concern to the possibility of having to destroy corn, wheat or other products. But US. Department of Agriculture officials reassured farmers that tainted grain could be aerated, aged or mixed with untainted grain to make it salable. "This confirms that our products can be consumed with complete safety," said Dean Belbas, a spokesman for General Milk Ron Bottrell, a Quaker Oats Co. spokesman, said his company was "confident that all our products are well within those guidelines." e 1984 The Washington P o s t Company. Reproduced by t h e Library of Congress, C o n g r e s s i o n a l Research S e r v i c e w i t h p e r m i s s i o n o f c o p y r i g h t c l a i m a n t . SHINGTON Q05T 2/4/8~ // p. A I, A 2 Patick Hsyes, a SpoHe~rmtllfor ~ o c ter & Gamble Co, said the EPA*.~ an. m.mcement waa welcome. P10ck & Gamble w e d briefly with California officials last week before w i n g to withdraw %?%Am a n mixes shown to have EDB levels as high as 2,200 p e r ~ s' per billion. ~ ~ ~ u s c levels u l e that may be Present in our products are mostly removed in the baking p"-, H~~~ said. industry representatives als~ said h' pleased that the testing of their producte, as well as any reah, would be handled through standard Food and Drug Administration procedures ~~ The Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed a standard last October, but it is not expected to become final for a year or more. "If they intend to aerate grain to re$uce the EDB in it, that will add more EDB to the air," AFL-CIO official Debbie Berkowib said. "We have 100,000 grain workers out there." Citrus handlers and truckers also are at risk, according to Berkowitz, who said citrus from Mexico had been shown to have EDB residues up to 16,000 parts per billion in its peeL +* Under ptoceduren, testing is done at the- warehome, not in food stom and d are handled without public notica “Ram tima to time there will be mme packqp mmeahere that has EDB," said one induefay official who asked not to be identifd "But you don't get into a situation of pulling thinga off a shelf. That help build public confidence." Ruckelehaw yesterday said the agency expected that about 1 percent of wheatbased products on grocery shelves would fail to meet the guidelinm For cornbased products, the percentage of tainted batches is likely to be higher, about 7 percent. Testing by the Grocery Manufacftuers of America Inc showed that producte containing corn or soft white wheat, frequently used in packaged mixes, had the greatest concentrations of EDB. Hush puppy mixes showed especially high EDB residues in the GhlA survey: only two of 15 packages tested w& meet the 150 part8-per-billion standard for Sntermediaten products. Hard winter wheat, used for most standard flours and baked bread& is hulled, or 'tempered," before being milled into flour, and a amount of the pesticide is removed along with the hull. The EPA ban of the pesticide applies a h to ita use on milling and granary equipment to p m grain intended for human consumption. In the wake of the EPA standark labor union representatives yesterday renewed their petition for an emergency etandard governing worker expoeuree to - - EPA-RECOMMENDED EDB RESIDUE W I T S READY-TWAT 'INTERMEDIATE RAW GRAIN FINISHED GOODS EDB NOT TO EXCEED PARTS PER BILLION 30 NOT TO EXCEED PARTS PER BILLION 150 NOT TO EXCff D PARTS PER BILLION 900 By BcduOtorlevlkh for The Washingtan Post US IMPOSES CURBS 40A*EDBIN FRUIT Official Says Other Pesticides in ~ s e . ~ q New c e Scrutiny The agency is still developing standards for retesting most of the pesticides. once those atalulards are set, pesticide manufacturers will be re qutred to retest their products. If the pesticides fail to meet the new standards, they will haye to be witMrawn farmthemarket. So far fewer tban 8 ) pesticides have been . Jonathan Lash, an attorneyfortheNaturalResaurcesDe fense Council,a mnprofit envimMlental group. said today that a t the rate the envinmmeatalagency was p x v x d l l g , it would take a t least eight more years to establish the standards d e r which mostofthecbemicalscouldbereregis&red. In~~ghisplansfordealing with EDB in citrus fruit, Mr. Ruckels haus said a t a news conference that his agency was now "going after those high volume pesticides that appear on foods." He did not mention any F chemicals, M &er 8 g e ~ ~0 y dals said close a t t e n t h was being paid to threaten health, Mr. Ruckelshaussaid, the removal process can create "se vere prublems." While some pesticides can prove on balame to be benetidal to society, "we have to be careful about introducing pesticides in a massiveway into the envimament," he said. About 35.000 pesticides are registeruiforuae,manydtbemap9fOvCd before Oeetlng techniquss were developed to detect small but possibly dangenm reBidues in food and watertappliesIbe~gencyisrepuiriae the older be buttheyare ?gtobeusedwbde thisprocessgoeson. - carbaryl, metolachlor, methomyl. m a t e , atrazine, cganaziw and sulfur; which together acanmt far a b a d 27 percant of the chemicalsused in pesticides d y . Under the new rules involving citrus pIoducts andpapeyas. the maximum safe level of EDB has been set a t 30 parts per billion for edible parts of the fruit. The standard will take effectin 30 days. Mr. Ruchefshaus did not order immediate suspension of the EDB on fruit as he did for grain products last month m the ground that EDB is no longex being ueed m domestically producedfruitclmsumedinthiscountry. Cancellathofalllgesof EDB on fruit is !cb+~Ied to take effect nfW Sept. 1. Proposal in c-sLegislation has been introduced by Representative Tom Harkin of Iowa and Senator William Pmxmire of Wis . consin,both Democrats,to require all I pesticides to be reviewed for safety by I 1 B O and if not reviewed by then to be ordered off the market. The Reagan Administration and Mr. Ruchelshaus have not taken a position an this legislation, and environmentalists have asserted that this calls into question the Administration's commitment to removing dangerous pesticides. They also noted that the Presi~cutbacksharplyonthefundsrecIPlested by Mr. Ruckelshaus for dealing with pesticides in the pmposed badget for the fiscal year 1985. me, O Mr. Ruckelshaus said in a telephone inte~ewthat he was not supporting the legislation because he did uot think it had% chanceof bemgenactedasa result of oppositian from the food and pesticide mdustnes and others. What he proposed to do instead, he said, was to meet with representatives of industry and environmentalists to see if they could work out a that would im a gaod Z Z 2 E e n B c t mat. Meanwhile, he said, he will seek to speedremovalofdaqemuspesticides through admintstratme actions. , He alsosaidbesawmthingwrongwith legmlation proposed by Representative Henry A. Waxman. Democrat of Cali- thoritytoaetmarimumlevelsofpeaticides in foods whenever it was deter- miDedthelewarauimmment topiblic hselth. Mr. W a ~ l l e nsaid in a telephoae in- rhw the W B bad sbarrmL'tbaeare~mour law that must be anected." "We are seeing the dhtwMg &woes with which E.P.A.has respoaded tothepesticidethreat,"hesaid. Albert 8.M e V , a lawyer for the Nahual R e s a m m ~efensecouncil, said it would help if Mr. Ruckelshaus pmpased new legislation but araq skeptical .that it would happen. "The time has come for E.P.A. to put up or shut up on pesticide reform," he said, adding that "legislation is needed to fire under industry to do the tests tenriea I k?e4ied.** Otherwise, he said, "There will be almost certain repetition of the EDB debacle." Recallofcereal ST. LOUIS, h&arch 2 (AP) - The RalstonPurina~panyhasrecalled more than 17,500 boxes of cereal IStributed in 13 states becaw they camtain EDB, but the Company said today the product posed w health hazard. ThecerealisRalstclnInstantWbole 1tHat in boxes with the ade number W19A on top, said a company spobe8man. Jim Reed. The1,466casesofcerealrepresenta portion of the p r o d w made Jan. 19 a t the company's plant in Davenport, Iowa, Mr. Reed said. It was distributed in New York, Maryland, Florida. Missouri, Illinois. Ohio, Krursas, 0ma, Texas. Louisiana, Alabama. Washington and Utah,he said. Tests on samples of the batch showed levels of EDB ranging from 153parts to 'mparts per billion, Mr. Reed said. The Federal Environmental Protection 'Agency last month set an EDB limit of (150 parts per billion in food p that q u i r e coolung or baking. 1984 The New York Times. Reproduced by the L i b r a r y o f C o n g r e s s , C o n g r e s s i o n a l Research S e r v i c e w i t h p e r m i s s i o n o f c o p y r i g h t c l a i m a n t . /3 - fornia, that would give tbe Mmirdntretoroftbeeavimameatalagehcytheau- tchwork of State Standards Complicates Federal EDB Effort - - By Cass Peterson washln$ton Post SWf wmar More than six weeks after the federal government announced its safety guidelines for ethylene dibmmide (EDB) in grain-based foods, the nation is caught up in a patchwork pattern of state enforcement that may actually have increased some consumers' exposure to the cancer-cawing pesticide. State and industry officials confirmed this week that some food products, pulled from grocery shelves in states with tough restric.tions on EDB, are being redistributed in states that have adopted the more lenient federal standards or are not aggressively testing for EDB residues. The result, state officials charge, is that consumers in receiving states have a greater chance of getting food products tainted with EDB, a potent animal carcinogen that has pervaded much of the nation's stored grain because of its wide use as an insectkilling fumigant. "The industry is telling us that there is no reason they can't sell their products in other states," said Peter Slocum, a spokesman for the New York Health Department, which yesterday adopted standards Ulllktl Prew 11ILBrlldtlc11~I three times more stringent than the New York Health Commissioner David Axelrod, left, and Agriculture Commissioner federal guidelines. "They say there's Joseph Geraee announce new state standards on EDB at news conference in Albany. nothing illegal about it, or immoral either!' Environmentalists and public mix that exceeded the federal stanRon Botrell, a spokesman for dard of 150 ppb for products that health -officials wmed weeks ago Quaker-Oats Co. in Chicago, con- must be cooked, was destroyed, Bo- that the Environmental Protection firmed that the firm had recycled trell said. The other two, a frozen Agency's voluntary EDB standards two of three products that failed to pancake batter and a coffee cake would lead to uneven enforcement meet Massachusetts' acmss-the- -mix sold under the brand name and prompt "dumping" of tainted board standard of1 part per billion Aunt Jemima, "were sent back to food in some states. EPA officials have counseled warehouses and ultimately redistribof EDB, the toughest in the nation. shtes not to set mare stringent, One product, a Flako corn muffin uted," he wid. (continued) 0 1984 The Washington Post Company. Reproduced by t h e L i b r a r y o f Congress, C o n g r e s s i o n a l Research S e r v i c e w i t h permission o f c o p y r i g h t c l a i m a n t . The EPA's voluntary standards for EDB residues in grain-based foods call for not more than 900 parts per billion in raw grain, 150 pph in "intermediate" foods such as flour, and 30 ppb in readyto-eat foods such as cold cereal and bread. States that have set tighter standards are Massachusetts (one ppb in any food), Maine (30 ppb in ready-toeat food and 40 ppb in other grain products) qnd New York (10 ppb inready-to-eat food, 60 ppb hintermediate food and 300 ppb in grain). All three of those states, os well as Florida, California, Texas and Ohio, have adopted a zero tolerance for baby foods. California says it will follow federat guidelines on other foods until July, 1985, when it will adopt the tough Messachusetts standard. Florida, which precipitated the EDB standard when it started recalling products with any trace of the chemical, hes since adopted the federal standards for all foods except baby foods. mandatory standards of their own, however, warning that the impact on interstate food shipments would ereate more problems than it would L. '%win J o h n , bead of the agency's pesticide office, told Florida officiah in a letter last month that protecting the public from EDB "is tied at least as much to the intensity of monitoring and enforcement as it is to choosing a lower set of levels." But while some states have launched strong efforts to enforce either the EPA standards or their own, others are sitting on their hands, suggesting that pick-andchoose marketing practices will continue even after the federal standards clear the last regulatory hurdle and become mandatory in mid-April. The Food and Drug Administration is gearing up to start enforcing the federal standards, but spokesman James Greene said the FDA will concentrate at least initially on raw grain. That means it will be largely up to the states to enforce the standard on processed products. At Least five states, possibly as many as 10, have not adopted any standard for EDB in grain products, according to EPA surveys. Many states are testing only products already identified as tainted by other states, and some states, including South Dakota, Nevada and Nebraska, are not conducting any tests at all In Maine, meanwhile, the standard for raw grain and intermediate foods such as cake mix and frozen bread dough is 3% times more stringent than the EPA's, and the state permits no EDB in baby food& -Several other states also have adopted a 2 x 0 toleranc~for baby foods, and California has served notice that it will not permit EDB in any products after July, 19% about t h m yeara sooner khan the EPA assumes the chemical will have . worked its way out of the fobd supply. Yesterday; New York adopted a standard $3ppb in ready-toeat I foods, 50 ppb in intermediate foods and 300 ppb in raw e n , three times more stringent than the federal standard. Cov. Mario Cuorno announced that New York would take the action alone, after failing to persuade five neighboring states to adopt the same standards. Officials in the tough-standld states contend that their efforts are bearing fruit. "In a matter of a month, EDB levels have decreased considerably," Dr. David Ozonoff, president of the Massachusetts Public Health Association, told a hearing in Boston this week. Slocum of New York's health department said his state still believes that EPA's standards, designed to reduce a long-term cancer threat, are inadequate to protect the pubfic from reproductive disorders and other short-term health hazards posed by EDB. "We're testing about 100 samples a week," he said. "Industry says we'll just find a few oddball products, but our scientists argue that it's worth trying to catch even those occasional spikes or aberrations." For their part, industry officials contend that they are doing their best to comply with the variety d standards. But they acknowledge that food processors are taking pains not to ship tainted foods to states where the products run a higher chance of being detected and recalled. "It's just the idea of having yoyr brand name impugned," said Roy Henwood of the Millers N a t i o d Federation, wbich represents some of the nation's largest food pmxison. "Everybody's pretty anxiolis about not shipping into MgssacK, setts." AS THE WASHINGTON POST Snrurdov, blerch 2 I, I V H ~ Show Insecticide Substituted for EDB Also Causes Cancer ; Whi laboratory 4 t s on ,-.i&yiqmmide, now b e i i used as a 'sum for the csncer-cadng r&yima dibmide (EDB) to kill & e on milling equipment and citmSrruit, b d h t a that it, too, t a ,.earcinogeo, =ording to BnwmDurrental Pmtectbn Agency i :&cidlb ~ ~ ~ , o o p ) d u c t e d i . t b e EDB,add &hard Johnson,bead of tbe &s EDB task force. Tha &udy was a shortterm expeaimast on rate being conducted for rwtbsr~&Itwfrenreeearch- eroformdarncemmrateautopeied after jllst 13 weeks, they forwarded the results to a scientific journal. California scientists already have reported to the EF'A that methyl bromide ts showing up in citrus fruits h m Fbrida, at levels up to four times greater than the EPA has deemed acceptable for EDB, Methyl bromide, like EDB, enjoy6 en longstding exemption from residue limits under food snfety lawa Tbefindingeooafinntbefecueof WA oaciale, who have freouently warned that b m b g EDB might prove to be little more than a superficial dution to a eerious problem. Ui.unawtcernedthat~~mere-. ly exchaagiag tbe devil we know for the one we don't know,'' EF'A Admiaitratoe William D. Ruckelshnw told reportem leat month,. before . anlnxmcingsharp-on EDB'e use as a fruit fumigant. But if methyl bromide turns out to be another "devil" in t4e nation's arniy of agricultural chemicals, it likely will be m e years before the EPA can take action to restrict its WXL With Em, identified as a carcinogen in 1973, the process took more than a decade. The EPA asked methyl bromide's prcdmm to do etudies on the chemical's health eEfecta about four years agaThaeetestearestillunderway. Tbe egency took the next etep, requesting d& on methyl bromide's abiity to contaminate food, water eupplii and mil less than three weeks aga According to J o h n , the p d u c - en, have 90 days to teview that letter and eix months to start collecting b e infdrmstioa Until the information is received, the EPA will have little evidence to eupport a &due b i t bn methyl bromide in milled grains or fruit. Edwin L. Johnson, director of EPA's offm of pesticide prcgrama, mid he didn't know why the agency had waited until now to request reaidue data on methyl bromide. "I Can'tgiVeyoaaayexcuseonVhe Mid- Wltheeaidthedataehouldbein withinayeer,andtheagencymay be able to move more quickly on methyl bromide in foods than was tbe case with EDB. Meenwhile, the disquieting icformetion on methyl bromide is not the only problem confronting the EPA in the wake of its EDB decisions. Recent laboratory tests,for example, have cast a cload over the lest WASHINGTON POST 0 1984 The Washington P o s t CO. Reproduced by C o n g r e s s i o n a l Research S e r v i c e , L i b r a r y o f Congress w i t h p e r m i s s i o n o f copyright claimant. /CI remaining pesticide used as an injectable soil fumigant to kill m t eating nematodes EDB was banned for use in the soil last September, &r tests &owed that darn&& high levels of the chemical were showing up in drinking-water supplies. mcials in Florida and other states were oounting on T&m II, a DOWChemical Co. product, to replace EDB in their nematode control programs, just as EDB bad replaced DBCP (dibellzochloropropane) when that chemical was banned in 1979. But Dow has voluntarily withdrawn Teloae II for that use &r seeing preliminary results of a NationaI Toxicology Program study showing that it caused a eigniricant number of rare urinary-tractcancers inlaboratorynnimnln Moreover, the EPA recently discovered that diquat, a pesticide long used in Florida and other states to control aquatic weeds, is contaminated with EDB. While the contamination is believed to be small, perhaps less than 1 percent, both EPA and Florida officials are trying to find out bow much of the chemical has made its way into drinking water through the state's ambitious weedmltd Program. Meanwhile Florida officials now are considering controlling nema-, todes by cllgging deep ditches to prevent the microscopic creatures from spreadii out of infested areas and onto the mKK)ts of healthy trees. "It sounds encouraging,"said Florida peaticides official Gregory Parker. 'And it might be cheaper." A7