PANNA:Lindane Action Plan Must Include U.S. Ban



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Lindane Action Plan Must Include U.S. Ban
October 19, 2005

Pesticide Action Network North America is urging PANUPS readers to call on the U.S. government to commit to a lindane phaseout under the North American Regional Action Plan, which is now open for public comment until November 4th.

If you represent an organized group and would like to review and have your group sign on to more in-depth technical comments, contact PANNA at

The Latest on Lindane

Earlier this month, the governments of Mexico, Canada and the U.S. released long-awaited draft “North American Regional Action Plan on Lindane and Other Hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) Isomers.”

The government of Mexico has agreed to phase out all uses of lindane (an estimated 19 metric tons per year) under the Action Plan, and the government of Canada will monitor the remaining lindane used to control lice and scabies in Canada (an estimated 6 kg per year) and actively encourage the use of safer alternatives. Agricultural uses of lindane have already been phased out in Canada.

The U.S., in contrast, will continue to use 65-105 metric tons of lindane per year to treat grain seeds in six crops and an estimated 1,000 kg (one metric ton) per year to control lice and scabies. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be completing a reevaluation of lindane’s use for seed treatment by August 2006, and is currently considering expanding U.S. uses to include canola seed treatment, not currently a registered use. As is noted in the Action Plan, lindane was identified by EPA as a candidate for phaseout in 1977.

Health Threat

As long time PANUPS readers know, lindane is a suspected carcinogen and hormone disruptor. It can cause seizures and damage to the nervous system, and can weaken the immune system. Case-controlled research shows a significant association between brain tumors in children and the use of lindane-containing lice shampoos.

The most common route of exposure to lindane is food consumption. Since lindane and its breakdown products persist in the environment, they can contaminate food and expose people and wildlife long after the pesticide is applied. Agricultural uses are largely responsible for the pervasiveness of lindane and its breakdown products in the Arctic environment. It is found there more often than any other pesticide. Indigenous peoples of the north who rely on traditional diets of marine mammals and fish are particularly at risk from lindane exposure through foods.

Recent studies from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than half of U.S. residents sampled carry HCH isomers in their bodies, and the highest levels are found among women of childbearing age.


The Lindane Action Plan

Development of the Action Plan was a three-year process coordinated under the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC), a tri-national body established under the environmental side-agreement to NAFTA. A Lindane Task Force was established under the CEC’s Sound Management of Chemicals working group, which has also commissioned Action Plans for chlordane, DDT, mercury and dioxins. Lindane is the first chemical targeted which is still registered for use in all three North American countries – Mexico, United States, and Canada.

In addition to the commitments of the three countries, the Action Plan outlines:

  • The history of use in the region
  • International status of lindane – which is banned in at least 52 countries and targeted under the international Stockholm Convention for global phase-out
  • Known health and environmental effects: including the properties of bioaccumulation and persistence and the particular impacts of HCH in the Arctic region
  • Issues of contamination from the dirty production process for lindane
  • Health effects of the other HCH isomers
  • Chemical and non-chemical alternatives available for current uses.
  • Highlights from the successful 2002 ban of lindane pharmaceutical uses in California due to concerns about drinking water contamination.

The Ban Lindane Now! Campaign

The ongoing Ban Lindane Now! campaign developed by PANNA and our partner groups is tri-national collaboration supporting:

  • Passage of state initiatives to ban lindane
  • Withdrawal of lindane agricultural products by Bayer CropScience (the primary distributor of lindane seed treatment products in the U.S.)
  • Rapid phase out of all uses in the North America region
  • Addition of lindane to the list of chemicals targeted for global phase out under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs Treaty).

For more information:

North American Regional Action Plan on Lindane and other Hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) Isomers at;

Ban Lindane Now! web pages (with links to additional on-line resources) at

Contact: PANNA (

PANUPS is a weekly email news service providing resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues that don’t always get coverage by the mainstream media. It’s produced by Pesticide Action Network North America, a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide.

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