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DDT WarsRescuing Our National Bird, Preventing Cancer, and Creating EDF$
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Charles F. Wurster

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190219413

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190219413.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 22 June 2021

Encores: Five More Bad Actors Were Dispatched

Encores: Five More Bad Actors Were Dispatched

12 (p.171) Encores: Five More Bad Actors Were Dispatched
DDT Wars

Charles F. Wurster

Oxford University Press

After DDT, EDF’s next pesticide targets were aldrin and dieldrin, both made by Shell Chemical Company. We had sought to block a dieldrin application in Michigan in late 1967, shortly after EDF was founded. That action was partly successful, delaying the application for many months and resulting in the application of less dieldrin. EDF was often accused of being against all pesticides, but that was never true. We were against DDT and several other persistent chlorinated hydrocarbons. Those pesticides were uniquely hazardous because they lasted for many years, traveled freely in the environment, and were ingested by animals and humans everywhere. They were very damaging to wildlife and—as we discovered along the way—they posed cancer hazards to humans. We were also against a purely chemical approach to pest control because integrated control techniques were more effective in controlling pests and contaminated the environment with less chemicals. We had a short list of pesticides that we identified as “bad actors”—all of which were persistent chlorinated hydrocarbons—and we eventually succeeded in getting all of them banned, although this took several years and an immense effort by our attorneys and scientists. On October 16, 1970, EDF filed a legal petition with HEW requesting the establishment of zero-tolerance levels for aldrin and dieldrin in human foods. The petition was written by attorney Edward Berlin and included a comprehensive review affidavit by me with numerous scientific references (Wurster, 1971). A few weeks later, pesticide regulation was transferred from HEW to the new EPA, and from then onward the action was pursued through EPA. I was not present during the hearing that followed. Instead Dr. Ian C. T. Nisbet, then the director of science for the Massachusetts Audubon Society, provided scientific support and attended the hearing. He wrote the next two sections (on aldrin and dieldrin and on heptachlor and chlordane), in which he describes what followed. On March 18, 1971, EPA issued notices of cancellation for all registrations of aldrin and dieldrin (A/D), but the marathon hearings did not begin until July 1973.

Keywords:   Allied Chemical Corporation, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Velsicol Chemical Corporation, chlordane, fire ants, pheasants, white-fringed beetles

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