Dec. 18, 2006 – The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it will allow the import and production of a banned pesticide that depletes the ozone layer.
The EPA phased out production of methyl bromide in 2005, but allowed exemptions for industries that have a "critical use" for it. The US currently has a stockpile of around 11,000 tons, according to the Agency.
The EPA defines "critical" use of methyl bromide as any case when not using the substance would cause "significant market disruption" and there are no feasible alternatives. The Agency announced it will allow 6,868 tons to be used in pesticides. About 4,757 tons of that can come from new production or imports of methyl bromide, the nationâ€™s stockpile providing the remainder.
Environmentalists fear the allowance will harm the Earthâ€™s protection from the Sun. "With the ozone layer in such serious trouble, the EPA shouldn't allow chemical companies to make even more [methyl bromide]," said David Doniger, a director at the Natural Resources Defense Council in a press statement.
Scientists have determined that methyl bromide not only depletes the ozone layer but can also injure the lungs when inhaled. Exposure can also lead to neurological damage.
In 1992, an international agreement set controls on the production and consumption of methyl bromide as part of the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement to phase out the production of substances that deplete the ozone layer.