EPA may replace ozone-depleting chemical with cancer-causing chemical

Here’s a hypothetical: Say you were a nation that signed a pact to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals. Say you therefore needed an alternative to methyl bromide, an ozone-attacking pesticide used on strawberries and other crops. Would you phase in a highly toxic fumigant that probably causes cancer? Sigh. Of course you would. The U.S. EPA is set to approve methyl iodide, under the commercial name Midas, as its soil sterilizer of choice. The chemical, which can be dangerous if inhaled, easily evaporates and drifts into the lungs of those nearby, but never fear — workers would be safe if they wore respirators! California, the nation’s leading strawberry producer, could end up using 3 million pounds of methyl iodide a year on its strawberries alone. However, even if the EPA gives methyl iodide the OK, the chemical would still have to pass muster with the typically more stringent California Department of Pesticide Regulation in order to be used in the state.