Lawn Care Pesticide Risks Remain Uncertain While Prohibited Safety Claims Continue

T-RCED-90-53: Published: Mar 28, 1990. Publicly Released: Mar 28, 1990.

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GAO discussed: (1) the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) progress in reassessing the health risks of common lawn care pesticides; (2) information the pesticide industry provides to the public on product safety; and (3) federal enforcement actions taken against prohibited pesticide safety advertising claims. GAO noted that: (1) EPA has not fully reassessed the health risks of commonly used lawn care pesticides; (2) EPA subjected six pesticides to special review because of concerns about their chronic health and environmental effects; (3) EPA prohibited many uses of and imposed new labelling requirements for diazinon, the most popular lawn care pesticide; (4) EPA took few formal enforcement actions against unacceptable pesticide safety advertising claims; (5) neither the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) nor EPA knew how many improper advertising cases EPA had referred to FTC; (6) FTC rarely initiated action against improper advertising claims, and FTC preferred to defer to EPA in such matters because of its statutory authority and greater expertise; and (7) professional lawn care pesticide applicators were making claims that could discourage users from following safety guidelines and could lead consumers to believe that certain pesticides were safe or nontoxic.

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