Methyl Bromide: Too Toxic for Golf Courses…but OK for Our Food?
The U.S. government has acknowledged that toxic chemicals in our environment are harming our health, yet many of these chemicals remain unregulated. And unfortunately, even when the government bans a chemical, the law is usually filled with so many loopholes that the ban is not worth much more than the paper it’s printed on.
One example is a highly toxic chemical called methyl bromide. It’s a pesticide, fungicide and herbicide used primarily to fumigate crops and for landscaping. After decades of excessive use, it finally came to light that methyl bromide rapidly depletes the ozone layer and is toxic to humans and animals. The chemical is so dangerous that nearly 200 countries have now signed the Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances, a treaty that demanded all agreeing countries have the chemical completely phased out by 2005. But it seems the U.S. found a loop hole that could land this nasty chemical right in your refrigerator.
Exposure to methyl bromide is known to cause reproductive harm and at higher levels can cause skin irritation, blurred vision, slurred speech, dizziness, vomiting and abdominal pain.
Quite honestly, methyl bromide had fallen off my watch list until I read an article in my local paper about communities fighting with golf courses over the use of methyl bromide. I, like many other people, thought it had been banned and was no longer in use.
It turns out that even though methyl bromide was supposed to have been eliminated as part of an international effort to limit exposure to this dangerous chemical, the U.S. has successfully lobbied for several “critical-use exemptions.”
So what does “critical-use exemption” mean?
Sounds serious, right? My initial assumption was that any exemption would be for major events or emergencies. But when I went to the EPA’s website, I discovered that the list of “critical uses” for which methyl bromide is allowed is actually quite broad. Under relative easy to qualify conditions, growers of eggplants, strawberries, peppers, tomatoes and other crops can use methyl bromide with few limitations. Methyl bromide is also approved for use in certain food processing facilities for pest management.
Another loophole in the law is an exception for golf courses in effect through 2013. After 2013, golf courses will not be allowed to use methyl bromide for their landscaping needs. So golf courses around the country are racing to stockpile their supplies of methyl bromide, and some are even doubling up on application. Even if homes border the golf course and schools are nearby, it’s all perfectly legal. If you live near or on a golf course, you may want to ask if they fumigate the grounds with methyl bromide. If they do, this should be cause for concern.
It is pretty troubling that this chemical is still being used for landscaping purposes near places where we work and live, and directly on crops that are distributed around the nation. The government can tell us that it’s being phased out all it wants, but if this were true, we’d expect to see a lot less methyl bromide being used. A recent study concluded that methyl bromide is being used in California no less now than it was 10 years ago!
There ARE Safer Alternatives
An alternative to methyl bromide, methyl iodide, has been approved for use in California, primarily on strawberry fields. This chemical is thought to be less harmful to the ozone layer, but it’s actually much more toxic to humans than methyl bromide, which it is supposed to replace. Growers argue that there are no effective non-toxic alternatives, but guess what? Organic farmers around the country manage to produce crops without relying on toxic chemicals. It can be done, and it would be done if the law made it necessary.
What will it take for U.S. lawmakers to take seriously the impact that toxic chemicals have on our health, longevity and overall quality of life? I’d like to see methyl bromide – and methyl iodide – banned across the board with no exceptions. We simply can’t afford to let these chemicals damage our health and our environment. We’re better than that.
Joshua Corn – Editor-in-Chief
Josh is a health freedom advocate and veteran of the natural health industry. He has been actively involved in the natural health movement for over 15 years, and has been dedicated to the promotion of health, vitality, longevity and natural living throughout his career. Josh has successfully overcome several personal health challenges through natural means, and believes that sharing information can empower people to take control of their health so they can solve their own problems and live life to its fullest potential. Josh is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Live in the Now. Additionally he serves as CEO of Stop Aging Now, a company that has been formulating premium dietary supplements since 1995. Josh is currently working on his first book about natural health, and is gearing up to launch the Live in the Now radio show. In addition to his work in the natural health field, Josh is an avid outdoorsman, animal lover and enjoys “living in the now” with his wife and two sons.