Over the years, a number of dangerous termite pesticides have been removed from commercial usage in the United States. Some of these products were removed due to concerns about effects on human health; others were problematic because they disrupted ecosystems.
Illegal Termite Chemicals: Organochlorines
Organochlorines, also known as cyclodiene insecticides, have been in use for more than 60 years to control termite colonies.Chlordane is an example of a widely-used organochlorine that is now not available in the U.S. It was removed from commercial sales in 1988 following discoveries that it was a probable human carcinogen and its residual effects negatively impacted the environment.
While several organochlorines have been removed from market in the U.S., newer formulations called pyrethroid products have been developed. Fipronil (Termidor ®), chlorfenapyr (Phantom ®) and imidacloprid (Premise ®) have been proven to provide effective control, with negligible impact on humans, pets and the environment, when applied according to label instructions. Unlike earlier versions, the residual effects of these newer termiticides can be reduced with detergent and water. While these chemicals have less of an impact on people and the environment, they still should be applied only by trained professionals.
After chlordane was removed from market, organophosphates became popular formulations for termite control. Organophosphates interfere with an insect’s ability to control its movement, which renders the insect paralyzed and causes its death.
Isofenphos was one type of organophospate commonly used from 1987 – 1992. The Pryfon formula distributed by Bayer Corporation was discontinued in 1992 due to studies suggesting the chemical might break down more quickly in some soil types and climates.
The other main organophospate on the market was chlorpyrifos, which was sold under the brand names Brodan, Detmol UA, Dowco 179, Dursban, Empire, Eradex, Lorsban, Paqeant, Piridane, Scout and Stipend. These products were first introduced in 1982 and removed from market for post-construction applications in 2002. The exact reasons for chlorpyrifos® removal from the market are not known. Most experts believe the removal was a result of more stringent pesticide regulations following the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996.
Over the years, the pest management industry has developed new termiticides and application methods to help improve effectiveness and minimize the impact of treatment on the environment.