In the U.S., the insecticide chlordane first became available in 1948. While it provided long-term residual effects at low cost and with great effectiveness, concerns about its impact on the environment and human health led the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban all of use of chlordane except for subterranean termite control in 1983.
In 1988, the EPA decided to no longer permit the use of chlordane for termite control. Today, the chemical is only permitted for experts controlling fire ants in power transformers – and no products in the U.S. currently are registered for this purpose.
The EPA has indicated chlordane is a probable human carcinogen. Laboratory animals have developed liver cancer after consuming high doses of chlordane. However, there is insufficient evidence to determine whether it causes cancer in humans.
Chlordane in soil does not easily break down – it may persist for 25-35 years. While this residue provides long-term termite control, it also creates concerns about bioaccumulation. Even though chlordane has not been used on food crops in more than 30 years, it may still be present in our food and water supply.
What Other Products Are Available to Control Termites?
Since the risks of chlordane were recognized, entomologists, chemists and pest control experts have developed products and techniques that provide effective control with a reduced impact on humans and the environment. For example, non-repellent termiticides are effective at a lower volume of application than repellent termiticides.
There are many methods and products used for termite control today. If you have questions about regulations or EPA-approved termite control products, consult your pest control expert.
Bottle of chlordane: