A formal legal petition filed by several environmental groups is urging California to phase out the use of the insecticide, sulfuryl fluoride, because of its impact on climate change. Sulfuryl fluoride, which is used primarily in the fumigation of drywood termites throughout the state, poses dangerous threats to both human health and the environment.
The legal petition calls on the California Air Resources Board to adhere to it’s “moral obligation to reduce greenhouse gases that are helping to drive catastrophic global warming.”
“Phasing out sulfuryl fluoride would provide the same climate benefits as taking 1 million cars off our roads every year,” Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “California’s air regulators have a legal and moral obligation to reduce greenhouse gases that are helping to drive catastrophic global warming.”
California is the world’s largest emitter of sulfuryl fluoride, using approximately 3 million pounds of the gas in 2021, according to a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity.
Researchers confirmed that sulfuryl fluoride has a larger impact on climate change than previously thought. The insecticide “stays in the atmosphere eight times longer than previously assumed, for a total of 36 years,” according to a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity.
Sulfuryl fluoride, which is 4,800 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, is also proven to be dangerous to human health as it is classified as an air contaminant and neurotoxin that causes illness, disability and even death.
“It’s the job of our regulators to protect Californians from dangerous air pollution, and that includes climate-warming pesticides,” Jane Sellen, co-director of Californians for Pesticide Reform, said. “Dangerous fumigants like sulfuryl fluoride pose a grave threat to public health and global warming and we need state air resource officials to act now.”
The petition also seeks to add sulfuryl fluoride to California’s greenhouse gas emission inventory, in which it will be required to be tracked and monitored.