Aldicarb (Temik) - Questions and Answers on Aldicarb: Company Press Release, 10/90
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For your information listed below is:
1. Questions and Answers on Aldicarb from the Environmental
2. Press Release for Rhone-Poulenc Ag Company.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON ALDICARB
1. What action is being taken by Rhone-Poulenc?
A: Rhone-Poulenc is recalling all aldicarb product that is
registered for use on potatoes. Their program will buy back
aldicarb products from potato growers and dealers handling the
product. The company intends to relabel (or put stickers on
existing labels) its product to remove potato use and resell the
product for other registered uses. EPA does not expect the
exposure from other registered uses to be as high as for potatoes.
2. What is aldicarb?
A: Aldicarb (trade name Temik) is a granular pesticide registered
since 1970. It is used to control insects, mites, and nematodes on
bananas, cotton, citrus, dry beans, grain sorghum, ornamentals,
pecans, peanuts, potatoes, seed alfalfa, soybeans, sugar beets,
sugarcane, sweet potatoes, and tobacco. Additionally, there are
tolerances established for residues of aldicarb on imported bananas
and coffee beans. Rhone-Poulenc is the sole registrant of
aldicarb. It is restricted to use by certified applicators only.
3. Why is the company taking this action?
A: Much of the 1990 potato crop is being planted now or will be
planted in the very near future. Because of unexplained high
residue levels recently reported in the preliminary data from a
study required by EPA, the company has decided that the product
should be recalled immediately, rather than allow its use on any
further plantings this year.
4. What does EPA think of Rhone-Poulenc's action?
A: EPA commends Rhone-Poulenc for its action to remove a
pesticidal use as soon as possible after discovering unexpectedly
high residues. The company actions is intended to prevent
additional potatoes from being treated with aldicarb while the
uncertainties surrounding these high residues are being resolved.
5. What action is being taken by EPA?
A: EPA is evaluating the data on hand and other information being
developed and will take appropriate regulatory action as soon as
our analysis is complete. Last week EPA received the data that
Rhone-Poulenc used to determine that they should recall all
aldicarb product used on potatoes. Actions EPA could take include
Special Review action to cancel or modify aldicarb registrations
and if necessary revocation or reduction of tolerances.
6. Why does EPA not believe that it must take immediate action
A: With the limited data on individual food items in hand,
balanced against the long years of use, the Agency estimates that
few if any children and infants consuming legally treated potatoes
or other legally aldicarb treated commodities will experience any
of the flu-like symptoms associated with low-level aldicarb
exposure. It should be noted that it is difficult to distinguish
between the symptoms of aldicarb exposure and flu-like symptoms
caused by viruses, etc.
7. Should I be concerned about eating potatoes currently in the
A: The data available at this time indicate that it is highly
unlikely that more than a few potatoes currently available contain
excessive residues and should not be consumed. If excessive
residues are found in the future EPA and FDA will take further
8. What residue information is available to EPA?
A: EPA has data available to estimate the level of residues of
aldicarb on legally treated commodities. These include data
supplied by the registrant to support the registration and
tolerance levels for aldicarb (field trial data), monitoring data
from the Food and Drug Administration, and data supplied by the
registrant which measures levels of aldicarb in commodities at the
grocery store (the Aldicarb National Food Survey). Additional data
have been requested form the registrant in order to address some of
the concerns regarding how the National Food Survey was conducted.
These data have led to the current situation.
9. What are the data that the Agency is looking at now?
A: As a result of its review of the National Food Survey conducted
by Rhone-Poulenc, the Agency identified a number of issues
concerning the conduct of the food survey.
One of the issues was the use of composited samples for
determining the residues of aldicarb in the food commodities. In
the last few months, the registrant has submitted interim progress
reports on the data required to clarify the results of the National
Food Survey. The following has been found:
> Residues on individual potatoes tested in the food survey are
significantly higher than expected.
> Results from a field of potatoes treated in 1989 show residue
levels on individual potatoes tested in 1989 show residue levels on
individual potatoes above the tolerance of 1 ppm.
10. Why did EPA require these tests to be conducted?
A: EPA required these tests to have a better understanding of the
potential acute dietary risks from aldicarb. Most sampling to
determine residues is done using composite or combined samples.
Because of the acute nature of aldicarb risk, EPA determined that
sampling of individual potatoes was necessary to estimate the
dietary risk. The analysis of the food samples in the registrant's
food survey for aldicarb was done by the official FDA enforcement
procedures that involves the compositing of samples. The
composites were made up of from 5 to 18 individual potatoes.
Last year the registrant was also required to determine the
degradation rate of aldicarb residues in potatoes during storage
and cooking and metabolite identification.
11. How many individual potatoes were analyzed?
A: The registrant was able to locate 26 production sites in five
states were aldicarb was used during the 1989 growing season. All
composited samples from these 26 fields were below the tolerance of
1 ppm. The three sites containing the highest aldicarb residues
were analyzed. The registrant tested 300 individual potatoes (100
from each of three different fields). Ten individual potatoes out
of 100 sampled from one field are reported to have residues above
the tolerance level for a composite sample.
12. What percent of the potato crop is treated with aldicarb?
A: EPA's historical estimates up through 1988 indicate that
nationwide 30 to 40 percent of the potato crop is treated with
aldicarb. The registrant's estimates are about one-half of this
amount for 1989. The amount of aldicarb used varies dramatically
from state to state.
13. What percent of the potato crop is sold for fresh versus
A: Approximately 50 percent of the potato crop is processed into
potato chips, fries, flakes, etc., 30 percent is fresh, and 20
percent are culls (unusable) or go to nonfood uses such as starch.
14. Are white potatoes the only crop where there are residues of
individual items above established tolerances?
A: No, there are individual bananas and sweet potatoes found in
the National Food Survey which had residues above tolerance level.
However, the range of residues in individual bananas and sweet
potatoes were significantly lower than those in the individual
white potatoes and therefore are less cause for concern. EPA is
still reviewing the available data and will take appropriate action
when the evaluation is completed.
15. How toxic is aldicarb?
A: Aldicarb is an acutely toxic pesticide which can affect the
nervous system. There is no indication that aldicarb causes cancer
or any other chronic health effect. The residue levels in legally
treated crops generally are much less than those levels which could
result in flu-like symptoms. EPA has information showing that
illegal use (such as incidents with watermelon and cucumbers) has
led to more severe illness and even hospitalization.
16. What are the symptoms from aldicarb poisoning?
A: Symptoms of aldicarb poisoning in humans are likely to be
manifested within the first hour following exposure. Exposure can
cause influenza-like symptoms (nausea, headache, blurred vision)
which disappear quickly, usually within 5 or 6 hours. In extreme
cases, atropine can be administered as an antidote.
17. Does EPA believe there are any specific groups of people at
particular risk from the use of aldicarb?
A: EPA believes that infants and children (aged 1 to 6 years) may
be at higher risk because their diet includes a large amount of
potatoes relative to their body weight. If a child consumes an
individual potato with elevated residues, the child could develop
flu-like symptoms. Again, it should be noted that it is difficult
to distinguish aldicarb symptoms from the illnesses children
18. How can I reduce the risks from eating potatoes?
A: Aldicarb is a systemic pesticides which means that washing and
peeling will not remove the residues. However, cooking treated
potatoes does reduce the residues by approximately 50 percent.
Also, serving potato dishes made from a combination of several
potatoes could dilute any residues present. Although the
probability is low that any one potato will have residues at a
level possible to cause an effect, a combination of several
potatoes will reduce the probability.
19. Why are fresh potatoes of concern, but not processed potatoes?
A: During the production of potato chips, fries, and other potato
products, many potatoes are combined. When the rare potato with
higher residues is mixed with potatoes with low or no aldicarb
residues, the high residue is diluted and the total residue is
lower. Likewise, potato dishes made from a combination of potatoes
should not have residues above the effect level. No samples of
mixed potatoes have been found with residue levels exceeding the
tolerance of 1 ppm.
20. What about the accidents with its use?
A: There have been a number reports of accidental exposures to
humans following misuse of aldicarb products. In 1985 cases of
aldicarb-poisoning from eating illegally treated watermelons were
reported from California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho,
Nevada, Arizona, and Canada. There have also been reported cases
of aldicarb poisoning from eating hydroponically grown cucumbers.
Aldicarb is not registered by EPA for use on watermelons and
cucumbers; therefore, these incidents resulted from the illegal use
of aldicarb on those crops.
21. Special Review history of aldicarb.
A: EPA initiated a Special Review of aldicarb in July 1984 due to
concerns regarding the potential for unreasonable adverse effects
resulting from drinking water from ground water wells which had
been contaminated by aldicarb. Aldicarb has been found to be
mobile in most types of soil to which it is applied. To date,
aldicarb has been detected in the ground water of approximately 16
states. In June 1988 EPA proposed establishment of State
Management Plans to reduce these risks. EPA is now evaluating the
new data submitted by Rhone-Poulenc and will determine whether
expedited regulatory action is needed.
PRESS RELEASE: Rhone-Poulenc Ag Company
DATE: April 10, 1990
Rhone-Poulenc Ag Company announced today that it is taking action
to temporarily halt the sale of its crop protection chemical
aldicarb for use on potatoes.
This voluntary action is being carried out in cooperation with the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Recent testing of potatoes
taken from major potato-growing regions showed that a small number
of samples from one field contained residues of aldicarb at higher
levels than the company would expect from proper use of the crop
Stephen A. Schmotzer, Director of Environmental, Regulatory and
Public Affairs for Rhone-Poulenc, said, "Although proper use of the
product for nearly 17 years has not resulted in any adverse health
effects, some recent data have shown an unexplained isolated
incidence of residue levels higher than acceptable in a few
"Based on extensive historical data and recent testing of potatoes
harvested in 1989, and currently in the marketplace, consumption by
the public presents little if any health risks", said Schmotzer.
"While we believe that continued use of aldicarb is safe, we have
a responsibility to the public to conduct additional research on
our time, not theirs. We are undertaking this testing and research
to determine the reasons for the unexplained residue levels. We
also have an obligation to take this action now because farmers are
beginning to plant this year's potato crop, "Schmotzer said
"Because aldicarb is such an important crop production tool for so
many potato growers, we did not want to put the growers in an
Schmotzer continued, "Our company is especially eager to spare the
American consumer, as well as growers, a needless and damaging
"food scare" of the type that we've seen in the past. In nearly 17
years of product use, we've never had any report of anybody
becoming sick or suffering adverse health effects from eating
Aldicarb pesticide is a granular product used for the control of
insects, mites and nematodes that damage crops. Aldicarb does not
cause long-term or chronic health effects such as cancer or birth
defects. It has been registered for use in the United States since
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