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EPA Wants To Ban Bird-Killing Pesticide on Golf Courses

January 6, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Environmental Protection Agency said Monday it wants to ban use of the pesticide diazinon on golf courses and sod farms because it appears to kill large numbers of birds.

The agency said it had received reports of 60 bird kills in 18 states, including one report prepared by New York state authorities documenting 54 kills in 17 states.

Many bird species like golf courses because they are easy to spot from the air and are relatively reliable sources of food, the agency said.

Poisonings also were reported on lawns and in fields of corn and alfalfa, EPA said, adding that it believes many such instances go unnoticed and unreported.

About 8 million pounds of diazinon, one of a class of pesticides known as the organophosphates, are used each year. Only about 8 percent to 9 percent is used on golf courses and sod farms.

Diazinon kills worms in the soil. Birds are exposed when they feed on grass, roots, grass seed or insects, and can also be exposed by ingesting and walking on the granules of the pesticide.

The major producer of diazinon is Ciba-Geigy Corp. A company spokesman in Greensboro, N.C., Skip Ragland, said the company had added new directions to labels of its product, D-Z-N Diazinon, on Dec. 10, to follow diazinon applications with about 6,800 gallons of water per acre.

Previous directions specified that ground should be watered after application, but did not say how much, Ragland said.

The recommended amount of water, which would cover an acre to a depth of about one-quarter inch, washes diazinon off grass leaves into the ground, avoiding exposure to species like geese that eat grass, but is not enough to form puddles, which birds like ducks will drink, Ragland said.

″We think we can demonstrate that diazinon can be used safely on golf courses,″ Ragland said.

EPA said it would begin a special review of diazinon in other applications and would request data on the effects on humans. Current data indicate that the chemical has no effect on human health, the agency said.

The agency must submit the proposed cancellation to its pesticides scientific advisory panel. Ragland said that body would consider the question at its February meeting.

Comments may be received from the public for 45 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register, expected soon.

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