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Remnants of Two Banned Insecticides Nearly Eliminated in Great Lakes Region

Two banned insecticides known to linger in the atmosphere have been all but eliminated from North America’s Great Lakes region, a study finds.

“For once we can report something positive,” Marta Venier, an environmental chemist at Indiana University and coauthor of the study, told Environmental Health News. “A few of the chemicals we’ve been measuring for a long time are well underway to being eliminated from the atmosphere.”

Scientists analyzed data from a U.S.-Canadian monitoring program that has tracked atmospheric concentrations of insecticides at several sites in the Great Lakes region. Measurements, taken every 12 days, date back to the early 1990s. Three of the insecticides studied — DDT, chlordane, and hexachlorobenzene — have persisted in the atmosphere, while two others — lindane and endosulfan — have nearly vanished. The findings were published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

In 2006, the EPA banned the agricultural use of lindane, which has been linked to anemia, lung cancer, and lymphoma. And in 2010, the agency began to phase out the use of endosulfan, which experts say may damage the liver and kidneys, and can, with repeated exposure, impact the brain, causing convulsions and loss of coordination.

“Despite the fact that it took a very long time, all of the measures that have been enacted have worked,” Venier said.

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