, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 231-244

Pesticide Sales in Low-Income, Minority Neighborhoods

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Abstract

The US EPA has phased-out residential use of two organophosphate pesticides commonly used to control cockroaches—retail sales of chlorpyrifos were scheduled to end on 12/31/01, and diazinon on 12/31/02. In light of recent findings highlighting the associations between pests, pesticides and health, we surveyed stores in low-income, minority neighborhoods in New York City to determine whether the phase-outs have been effective and to assess the availability of alternatives to spray pesticides. In summer 2002, when sales of chlorpyrifos were illegal and diazinon still legal, we surveyed 106 stores selling pesticides. Four percent sold products containing chlorpyrifos and 40 percent sold products containing diazinon. One year later, when sales of both pesticides were to have ended, we surveyed 109 stores selling pesticides in the same neighborhoods and found chlorpyrifos in only one store and diazinon in 18 percent of stores, including 80 percent of supermarkets surveyed. At least one form of lower toxicity pesticides, including gels, bait stations and boric acid was available in 69 percent of stores in 2002. However sprays were most widely available, found in 94 percent of stores in 2002 and less expensive than lower toxicity baits and gels. In a separate survey of storekeeper recommendations conducted in 2002, storekeepers recommended lower toxicity pesticides as the best way to control cockroaches 79% of the time. The EPA's phase-outs have nearly eliminated sales of chlorpyrifos, but the diazinon phase-out appears to be less effective.