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Lawsuit Launched Challenging EPA’s Failure to Protect Endangered Species From Hundreds of Harmful Pyrethroid Pesticides

WASHINGTON -

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice today of its intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for approving more than 300 pyrethroid insecticide products without considering their harm to endangered plants and animals.

The pyrethroid class of insecticides is one of the most harmful groups of pesticides for freshwater wildlife and can injure or kill many other plants and animals, including endangered species. But the EPA has failed to take a single on-the-ground conservation action to protect any endangered species from these toxic chemicals, completely ignoring the clear legal requirements of the Endangered Species Act.

“The EPA admits pyrethroids’ wide-ranging harm to wildlife but still rubberstamps hundreds of pesticide products containing them without assessing their risks to endangered species,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center. “The EPA needs to get serious and come up with a comprehensive plan to address the havoc these pesticides are wreaking on the environment.”

The EPA has acknowledged the toxicity of pyrethroids to nearly all taxa, including birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, aquatic vertebrates and aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates. The harm extends to endangered species like California tiger salamanders, California red-legged frogs and Bay checkerspot butterflies.

In addition, the EPA has characterized pyrethroids as “highly to very highly acutely toxic to honeybees.”

“We’ll see if the Biden EPA can muster the political will to finally follow the law, or if it will just continue throwing endangered species under the bus,” said Burd. “For decades the pesticide industry has called the shots for the EPA, but as the extinction crisis worsens we’re hoping this administration will finally provide the leadership our most imperiled plants and animals need to survive.”

The EPA has registered pesticide products containing pyrethroids for use in a wide variety of settings, including residential properties, roadsides and public recreation areas. Pyrethroid products have also been authorized for use on crops, including alfalfa, bushberries, citrus, corn, cotton, soybeans, wheat, vegetables, rice, nut and fruit trees, leafy greens, sunflowers, peanuts, tobacco, herbs and spices and stone fruits.

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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. 

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