The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Tel: (520) 623.5252,Email:,

Dow Pitching New Pesticide That Doubles As an Extraordinarily Potent Greenhouse Gas:

Scientists and Advocates Organize to Block Sulfuryl Fluoride, a Pesticide 4,780 Times More Potent Than Carbon Dioxide


Public health and environmental advocates have asked
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to deny a request from Dow
AgroSciences for a permit allowing it to release large amounts of
sulfuryl fluoride onto farm fields in four states. The chemical is a
toxic pesticide whose global warming effects are thousands of times
stronger than carbon dioxide.

"The hazards of using
sulfuryl fluoride in agriculture have not been evaluated. It is also
4,780 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide," said Dr.
Brian Hill, a staff scientist at the Pesticide Action Network. "Either
one of those facts makes permitting these tests a major mistake."

Dow AgroSciences proposes using sulfuryl fluoride to sterilize soil in
farm fields. The permit would allow the release of 32,435 pounds of
sulfuryl fluoride on 65 acres of test plots in Florida, Georgia, Texas,
and California. Releasing just 10 percent of that amount into the air
would be equivalent to releasing 15.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide.
"A car that gets 30 miles per gallon would have to be driven 23 million
miles - the distance of a trip circling the world over 930 times - to
cause that much global warming," said Hill.

would like to sell this toxic chemical to farmers across the country -
and will apply to do so if this test goes well," said Craig Segall of
the Sierra Club. "We don't need more global warming pollution, so we're
asking EPA to nip this problem in the bud."

offices within EPA are currently working diligently to control climate
change, which the EPA recognizes as the most pressing environmental
challenge of our times," said Justin Augustine of the Center for
Biological Diversity. "It makes no sense for EPA's Office of Pesticide
Programs to work at cross purposes with the rest of the agency by
allowing the use of such a harmful substance."

only is sulfuryl fluoride a potent greenhouse gas, its high toxicity
likewise poses significant human health and ecological risks. Thus far,
EPA has not carefully reviewed the health risks for those exposed to
the chemical or considered the impacts of the releases on endangered
species and other wildlife. The groups' letter asks EPA to take a hard
look at these questions, including by consulting with the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service.

The letter was signed by Alaska
Community Action on Toxics, the Center for Environmental Health, the
Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, the Pesticide
Action Network, and the Sierra Club.

Contact Info:

Brian R Hill, Ph.D.
Staff Scientist

Pesticide Action Network North America

49 Powell Street # 500

San Francisco, CA 94102


Craig Segall
Environmental Law Fellow

Sierra Club Environmental Law Program

85 Second St., 2nd Floor

San Francisco, CA 94105

(415) 977-5610

Justin Augustine

Staff Attorney
Center for Biological Diversity
351 California Street, Suite 600

San Francisco, CA 94104

(415) 436-9682 x 302
(415) 436-9683

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

(520) 623-5252