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AGs Blast EPA for Downgrading Common Pesticide’s Cancer Risk (1)

April 8, 2020, 7:36 PMUpdated: April 8, 2020, 8:26 PM

A coalition of eight attorneys general is criticizing the EPA for minimizing the risk of cancer in an assessment of a widely used pesticide.

The group faulted the Environmental Protection Agency in a comment letter submitted to on Monday for its new draft risk assessment for 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D), which recently downgraded its cancer rating from “likely to be a carcinogen to humans” to “suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential.”

The pesticide, produced by Corteva Agriscience and sold under the Telone brand, is a pre-planting soil fumigant used to control insects, nematodes, and other organisms that threaten crops such as potatoes, berries, and grapes.

“The harsh reality is certain communities experience a disproportionate share of environmental pollution – and the resulting health risks,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) wrote in a letter joined by his counterparts in Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Vermont and the District of Columbia.

An EPA spokesperson said Wednesday that the agency “appreciates the perspective” of the AGs and would review their comments along with others. Corteva couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

Notice Published

On Feb. 4, the EPA published a notice of availability of draft risk assessments for 1,3-D. The attorneys general are asking the agency to revise its draft human health risk assessment for 1,3-D before moving toward re-registering it.

The AGs claim that EPA’s draft risk assessment excludes entire categories of scientific evidence in order to downgrade the pesticide’s cancer risk rating. They also note the agency’s “extraordinary decision to exclude from consideration every single test result demonstrating that 1,3-D acts as a mutagen,” or a chemical that causes a genetic mutation.

“California’s agricultural workers are already exposing themselves to increased health risks as essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bacerra said in a newsrelease, “and should not be unnecessarily exposed to this dangerous pesticide.”

According to data from the California Department of Pesticide Registration, 1,3-D is one of the most-used non-organic pesticides in California in terms of total pounds applied for agricultural uses.

California has added 1,3-D to it’s Proposition 65 list of products that must carry a cancer warning label.

However, according to a 2019 public health report compiled by EPA’s Health Effects Division, the majority of incidents involving 1,3-D involved minor symptoms, such as burning eyes and coughing.

“These are symptoms which were minimally traumatic and resolved rapidly,” the report stated.

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, the EPA must conduct a human health and environmental risk assessment as part of the normal 15-year pesticide (re)registration timeline.

(Updated with EPA comment in fifth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Adam Allington in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at; Rebecca Baker at