By J. Robert Eckley & Amparo Richardson

First it was DDT, then chlordane. Now its Dursban and it's cousin, Lorsban . And each of these pesticides have three things in common, today: They all cause neurological damage to humans and animals, they exist in high concentrations in homes, schools, hospitals, recreation areas, daycare centers, public buildings and yards throughout Arizona and they are all now absolutely BANNED! The point: With about 20 million pounds of the chloropyrifos compounds (Dursban and Lorsban) still being used annually in America, the EPA ban going into effect for them on December 31, 2000 and December 31, 2001, respectively, spells serious and immediate disclosure issues for our industry!

It's because Dursban, a relative of Sarin (a really nasty organophosphate used in chemical warfare and most recently suspected as the culprit behind the "Gulf War Syndrome," a neurological disorder plaguing many G.I.s from the Iraqi theater), is not only the main toxicant of just about every commonly used household bug spray (the EPA says over 800 consumer products contain it), but it is also STILL the central professional termite and general pest control medium in Arizona. It's everywhere and has been accumulating since the late 1970s and 1980's when the other, previous toxicants were respectively barred from use. Worse, the EPA says it's truly awful stuff!

Chloropyrifos compounds attack and paralyze the nervous system, terminating the voluntary and autonomous life systems. In bugs like termites, ticks, fleas, ants and cockroaches, the ability to move or breathe is simply precluded until they gasp to death. (Not an attractive thought, even when they are so ugly.) But according to the EPA studies, as it does to bugs, so it can do to humans , but in our case it takes a lot more than we are ever likely to encounter to kill us. It's just that it doesn't take much to maim us (especially our children who can suffer from blurred vision and even permanent memory loss from even tiny amounts). And that's the point. A detailed 1994 medical survey of 1,000 Americans (adults and children) randomly selected published by U.S. News and World Report in November, 1999 reported that 82% had chloropyrifos traces in their urine. Other subsequent and even larger studies are consistent. So....yep. It's bad, it's here and now...... it's inside us !

What does this say for our industry? It doesn't take a rocket scientist for that one! Disclosure, disclosure , DISCLOSURE!! GET THIS ON YOUR SPDS! Check and explain this on the "pesticides" box and consider writing in the "other matters that might affect the transaction" box something like this: "This home and land may contain the pesticides Dusban, Lorsban or other compounds which have been banned by the EPA, the former being banned effectively January, 2001 and January 2002, respectively. Dursban and Lorsban have been widely used throughout American homes and yards for over a two decades, yet have only recently been identified by the EPA as a potential hazard to health. If Buyer considers this material, Buyer should have the property inspected and/or remediated by someone competent in the field." You buyer-brokers out there: Don't wait for the Seller to do this. Give your buyers the same "head's up" in writing somewhere before the deal goes hard (and you may want to ask the Seller clean it up as part of the sale). Landlords and property managers: Ditto . And all of us may want to specify a switch to the alternative, legal pesticides for regular treatments right now .

No, this is NOT "the end of 21st century real estate as we know it." It's another disclosure item among the hundreds we bring to the table every single day to keep our service to our clients and customers accurate, valuable and effective. So who said assisting people to make the largest single investment of their entire lives is supposed to be a snap!

J. Robert Eckley is an attorney, Realtor and appointed to the E.50 Environmental Committee of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the organization that sets environmental standards for real estate throughout the United States. Amparo Richardson is a real estate paralegal with Eckley & Associates, P.C.. Their local number is (602) 952-1177. See their website at


Home | About Us | Rates | Articles | FAQ | Links | Contact Us