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Endosulfan Phase-out

Current as of November 2010

Endosulfan Final Product Cancellation Order issued (FR notice, November 10, 2010)

EPA is taking action to end the use of the pesticide endosulfan because it can pose unacceptable health risks to farmworkers and wildlife and can persist in the environment. A formal Memorandum of Agreement with manufacturers of the agricultural insecticide will result in voluntary cancellation and phase-out of all existing endosulfan uses in the United States. Terminating uses of endosulfan will address its unacceptable risks to agricultural workers and wildlife.

Endosulfan is an organochlorine insecticide that can be used on a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, cotton, and ornamental plants. It has no residential uses. Endosulfan is used on a very small percentage of the U.S. food supply and does not present a risk to human health from dietary exposure.

On this page you will find information about the status of EPA’s initiative to terminate all uses of endosulfan.

Endosulfan Memorandum of Agreement, July 2010

EPA has initiated action to end the use of endosulfan because it can pose unacceptable health risks to farmworkers and wildlife and can persist in the environment. In July 2010, EPA signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the registrants of endosulfan that will result in voluntary cancellation and phase-out of all existing endosulfan uses in the United States. Terminating uses of endosulfan will address its unacceptable risks to agricultural workers and wildlife.

Under the agreement, most currently approved endosulfan crop uses will end in two years, including over 30 crop uses plus use on ornamental trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. About 12 other crop uses will end over the following four years. Of these 12, the last 4 endosulfan uses will end on July 31, 2016.

A list of endosulfan uses and last lawful use dates is provided below.  See also the Endosulfan Memorandum of Agreement and Appendices.

Product Cancellation

On November 10, 2010, EPA published a Federal Register notice announcing the cancellations, voluntarily requested by the registrants and accepted by the Agency, of pesticide products containing endosulfan. This order followed an August 18, 2010 Federal Register notice announcing the Agency's receipt of requests from all endosulfan registrants to cancel all 30 registered endosulfan pesticide products. The 30-day public comment period closed September 17, 2010.

Next Steps

By the end of 2010, each endosulfan end-use product label will be amended to include a table showing the exact dates when it will become unlawful to use the product on the crops included on the label. 

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Endosulfan Crop Uses and Last Use Dates

(Click on the group titles below to open lists of crop uses that end on the dates indicated)

Group A: Use ends July 31, 2012

  • Almond
  • Apricot
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery (non-AZ)
  • Citrus (non-bearing)
  • Collard greens
  • Dry beans
  • Dry peas
  • Eggplant
  • Filbert
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mustard greens
  • Nectarine (CA only)
  • Macadamia
  • Plum and Prune
  • Poplars grown for pulp and timber
  • Strawberry (Annual)
  • Sweet potato
  • Tart cherry
  • Turnip
  • Walnut
  • Ornamental trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants
  • Other uses on product labels not listed above or in Group B, C, D, E, or F

Group B: Use ends July 31, 2012

  • Cabbage
  • Celery (AZ only)
  • Cotton
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Stone fruits not listed in Group A, including Nectarine (non-CA), Peaches, and Sweet cherry
  • Summer melons (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon)
  • Summer squash
  • Tobacco

Group C: Use ends July 31, 2013

  • Pear

Group D: Florida – Use ends December 31, 2014

All Florida uses of:
  • Apple
  • Blueberry
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Sweet corn
  • Tomato
  • Winter squash

Group E: Use ends July 31, 2015

  • Apple
  • Blueberry
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Sweet corn
  • Tomato
  • Winter squash

Group F: Use ends July 31, 2016

  • Livestock ear tags
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberry (perennial/biennial)
  • Vegetable crops for seed (alfalfa, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radish, rutabaga, turnip)

Printable version of the endosulfan crop uses and last use dates

Mitigation Measures during Phase-Out

In addition to mitigation requirements placed on endosulfan labels in previous years, EPA is requiring new mitigation measures for many crops (those in Groups B through F above) during the endosulfan phase-out period.  Although these additional mitigation measures are designed to reduce worker risks, restricting and phasing out all uses of endosulfan will also address risks to wildlife and the environment.

Additional mitigation required during the phase-out varies by crop and includes measures such as:

Detailed information about the additional mitigation measures is provided in the Appendices to the Endosulfan Memorandum of Agreement.

Transition to Alternatives

EPA expects growers currently using endosulfan to successfully transition to lower risk pest control strategies.  The endosulfan Agreement helps facilitate this transition by providing growers time to research and adopt lower risk alternatives.  Recognizing that endosulfan affords benefits in producing certain individual crops, the Agreement allows a longer phase-out period where the benefits of endosulfan use are highest and fewest alternatives are available.

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Background on EPA’s Reevaluation of Endosulfan

Endosulfan Reregistration Eligibility Decision, 2002

Upon completing a comprehensive review of endosulfan and its risks to human health and the environment, EPA issued the Endosulfan Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED) in 2002.  In the RED, EPA concluded that endosulfan posed dietary, occupational, and ecological risks of concern.  The Agency determined that these risks could likely be mitigated to levels below those of concern by deleting use of endosulfan on five crops and changing product labeling to include a number of mitigation measures.  These measures were fully implemented in 2007.

Endosulfan Assessments, 2007 - 2009

EPA revised its human health and ecological risk assessments for endosulfan in 2007, based in part on new data submitted by the registrants as required in the 2002 RED.  The 2007 risk assessments indicated that:

In late 2007 and early 2008, EPA asked the public to comment on these human health and ecological risk assessments.  EPA also requested comment on the Agency’s analysis of endosulfan useage information since the 2002 RED, as well as its preliminary determinations regarding endosulfan’s importance to growers and availability of alternatives.

In October 2008, EPA consulted with the FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) on the risk assessment approach for persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) chemicals.  Because endosulfan has PBT characteristics, the Agency refined its endosulfan ecological risk assessment based on the SAP’s recommendations.

EPA issued impact assessments on eight crop uses of endosulfan in May 2009, and solicited public comment on the assessments as well as any additional information stakeholders had on the importance of endosulfan use in agriculture.

Endosulfan Updated Assessments, 2010

In June 2010, based on updated risk assessments and benefits evaluations developed over the previous several years, EPA concluded that endosulfan poses unacceptable risks to agricultural workers and wildlife, and can persist in the environment.  (EPA News Release, June 9, 2010)  These risk concerns provided the basis for the Agency’s July 2010 Memorandum of Agreement with the registrants to voluntarily cancel and phase out all uses of endosulfan.

Human Health Risk Assessment – New data developed in response to the Agency’s 2002 Endosulfan RED shed additional light on the risks faced by workers who apply endosulfan and those who harvest crops and conduct activities in fields after the pesticide is used.  EPA found that risks faced by workers are greater than previously known, in many instances exceeding the Agency's levels of concern.

Ecological Risk Assessment – EPA’s 2010 revised ecological risk assessment reflected a comprehensive review of all new, currently available exposure and ecological effects information for endosulfan, including independent external peer review recommendations made by the FIFRA SAP.  EPA found that there are risks above the Agency’s level of concern to aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, as well as to birds and mammals that consume aquatic prey in which endosulfan has bio-accumulated.

Benefits Assessment – As appropriate under FIFRA, EPA also evaluated the benefits of endosulfan uses.  The Agency’s impact assessments for crops with significant endosulfan use are available in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2002-0262 in Regulations.Gov.

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Endosulfan Uses and Properties

An organochlorine insecticide first registered in the 1950s, endosulfan can be used on a variety of vegetables and fruits, on cotton, and on ornamental plants.  Endosulfan has no residential uses.  Crops with the highest use in 2006 – 2008 included apple, cotton, cucurbit (cucumber, pumpkin, summer squash, winter squash), pear, potato, and tomato.  Use of endosulfan has decreased significantly over the past decade, due in part to earlier regulatory action by EPA.  A restricted use pesticide, endosulfan may be applied only by or under the supervision of a trained, certified applicator.

Endosulfan is volatile, persistent, and has the potential to bio-accumulate in aquatic and terrestrial organisms.  A large body of scientific literature documents endosulfan’s medium- and long-range transport on a global scale and subsequent accumulation in nearly all environmental media.  Through the process of global distillation, endosulfan is present in air, water, sediment, and biota thousands of miles from use areas.

Endosulfan is one of the most abundant organochlorine pesticides found in the Arctic, and has also been detected in the Great Lakes and various mountainous areas including the National Parks in the western United States, distant from use sites.  Because of its presence in remote locations, endosulfan may be considered a persistent organic pollutant that may result in human exposure via the food web.

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For Additional Information

The July 2010 Memorandum of Agreement and other documents related to EPA’s reevaluation of endosulfan are available in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2002-0262 in Regulations.Gov.

Background information about EPA’s reevaluation of endosulfan is available on the Agency’s Endosulfan reregistration web page.

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