I represent Arysta LifeScience, the manufacturer of methyl iodide, which you recently discussed in an article on your blog and contributed to The Atlantic. I’m writing to address glaring factual errors in the piece that should be corrected. I look forward to hearing from you and learning how these issues can be resolved in the article.
The piece implies that methyl iodide registration is a “chemical time bomb.”
- Methyl iodide is a naturally occurring substance produced by marine algae. Each year, the oceans produce more than 654,000 tons of the chemical each year alone.
- Methyl iodide has been used as a soil fumigant in the Southeast United States since it was registered in 2007 by the EPA on more than 16,000 acres without a single safety incident reported.
“Claiming that it can also kill the humans who handle it or are unfortunate enough to live in the vicinity of farms a group of farm workers and environmental health organizations filed suit late last year to reverse California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation’s approval of methyl iodide’s use.”
●Not true. The lawsuit recently filed against the California Department of Pesticide Regulation in no place claims that methyl iodide use will result in the loss of human life.
- Confusingly, instead of linking to the actual lawsuit, the PDF link included with this statement is to a use label for the state of Florida.
“In terms of human health, however, the changeover represented a leap from the frying pan into the fire.”
- There’s no evidence to support this claim. Methyl iodide is being used in the Southeast United States safely and other counties are moving to bring it to market as an effective methyl bromide alternative based on scientific evidence and review. Today it is registered in Japan, Turkey, New Zealand, Morocco, Mexico and Uruguay with additional registrations pending in Australia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Chile, Egypt, Israel, South Africa and other countries.
“But warnings from members of the scientific community—even Nobel Prize winners—went unheard at the EPA, which cleared the way for methyl bromide’s use in the 46 states that don’t have their own environmental protection units.”
- Not true. The EPA responded to inquiries of the 54 scientists twice. The EPA’s wrote the scientists back and explained how their scientific review had addressed all of their concerns. A copy of the letter of response is attached.
“ Of the four states that do, New York and Washington refused to allow the application of methyl iodide.”
- Absolutely incorrect. Arysta LifeScience withdrew the application for methyl iodide registration from the states of New York & Washington based on their requests for additional information and studies. Neither New York or Washington have made any kind of registration decision regarding the fumigant.
“As part of its approval of the new fumigant, Florida required that Arysta monitor air and groundwater quality near sites where it was applied. The early results showed potentially dangerous levels of the chemical and its byproducts in the air and water.”
- Absolutely false. The early studies out of Florida are preliminary at best and cannot be used to draw an concise conclusions. However, what the studies did show was that there were no traces of methyl iodide (the chemical) in any of the water samples collected in the studies. Second, the byproduct in question is iodide. And the preliminary studies actually show iodide levels decreasing after methyl iodide applications on test sites: one in Sarasota County and on in Dade County.
- Table 27 (pg. 83) in the attached document from the study shows the iodide levels of the water during two pre-application samplings (Pre-4 and Pre-5) at the Sarasota County site. You can note that the highest concentration of iodide (0.148 ppb) was detected in the Pre 4 sampling at field sample SGW3. So, the highest concentrations of iodide were detected before methyl iodide was ever applied. Subsequent samplings after applications showed lower iodide levels.
- In Dade County (Table 28, pg. 84), you’ll see that the highest iodide concentrations found were 0.058 ppb. In 6 of the 8 samplings taken after methyl iodide had been applied, absolutely no iodide was detected. The iodide levels that were detected in the other studies did not exceed the prior concentration of 0.058 ppb.
- Air monitoring results can be found on pages 85—90 of the actual report. These studies were monitoring for concentrations of methyl iodide in the field and surrounding buffer zones. The maximum concentration of methyl iodide found during any of these studies was 37.5291 ppb. This amount is 4 times lower than EPA’s maximum allowable concentration for methyl iodide (150 ppb) and more than 2 times lower than the Department of Pesticide Regulation’s proposed maximum allowance of 96 ppb.