Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions


Image of a can of pesticides.

Ban the Top Two Most Prevalent Pesticides

Long Islanders depend on groundwater as our sole source of drinking water. It is critical that we protect this water source to ensure protection of our health and our environment. Unfortunately, new and alarming information complied by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) documents 117 active pesticides found in our water supply. The DEC needs to immediately ban the worst two toxic offenders—metalaxyl and imidacloprid—from use on Long Island.

VICTORY—Atrazine To Be Pulled off the Shelves on Long Island!

Recent public outcry over atrazine contamination of drinking water supplies on Long Island has pressured Makhteshim Agan of North America (MANA), Long Island's main manufacturer of atrazine, to restrict the sale, use, and distribution of the toxic chemical on Long Island. Atrazine is a weed killer that has been identified as an endocrine disruptor and a possible carcinogen, and is the third most prevalent pesticide found in Long Island groundwater. Removing this product from the shelves is an essential first step in protecting Long Island drinking water from unnecessary pesticide contamination.

One Down, Two More to Go!

The DEC documents thousands of pesticide detections throughout private wells, community wells, and monitoring wells. These toxic chemicals have also been detected in Long Island surface waters. It is important to act now to stop the use and spread of the 2 most frequently detected chemicals. In 1979, the pesticide Temik was banned on Long Island, yet levels of this toxic pesticide continued to increase in our water supply for 20 years. We must act now to protect drinking water!

DEC Has the Power to Act

There are currently 13,364 pesticide products registered for use in New York. The DEC has the authority and responsibility to withdraw specific pesticides from use when there is evidence that they are contaminating groundwater. To date, 339 pesticides are prohibited on Long Island, and 155 are permitted for conditional use. Now the DEC needs to ban two more on Long Island: imidacloprid and metalaxyl.

The Two Worst Toxic Offenders on Long Island

1. Metalaxyl

Metalaxyl is a fungicide that readily leaches in sandy soils and is highly soluble in water; these properties, in combination with its long persistence, pose a significant threat of contamination to our groundwater. Metalaxyl is EPA Acute Toxicity Class II (moderately toxic). It is linked to kidney and liver damage and is toxic to birds. According to the NYS DEC, there have been 1,327 detections of metalaxyl at 546 locations in Long Island's groundwater.

2. Imidacloprid

Imidacloprid was recently released from its patent and can be found in hundreds of products used to control insects on lawns, turf, golf courses, gardens, farms, pets, ornamental plantings, and in households. It is a known neurotoxin and can cause damage to the nervous system. Imidacloprid has also been linked to the dramatic decline in honeybee populations, known as Colony Collapse Disorder. As a result, it was recently banned in the European Union. It is also toxic to fish and crustaceans. According to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), from 2001 to 2010, imidacloprid was detected 890 times at 179 locations in Long Island's groundwater. The chemical has been found in concentrations as high as 407 ppb ‑ far in excess of the 50 ppb drinking water standard.

The Plight of the Bumble Bee…Why Imidacloprid Must be Banned on Long Island

DEC's Proposed "Strategy" Fails to Protect Drinking Water

After more than a decade, the DEC finally released the Draft Long Island Pesticide Pollution Strategy. This "Strategy" does not propose ANY measures to protect our groundwater against toxic pesticide contamination, but rather it simply calls for more meetings and more planning. The DEC strategy should ban the 2 most prevalent pesticides while determining what options exist for managing pests without these chemicals. But if the DEC fails to act, the NYS Legislature must step in the ban them. There are alternatives to pesticides, but there is no alternative source of drinking water for our Island!

How You Can Help:

Submit a comment to the DEC via email. Urge the DEC to:

  • Ban the use of the two most prevalent pesticides detected in Long Island's groundwater—metalaxyl and imidacloprid!
  • Identify and assess safer alternatives to toxic pesticides found in Long Island groundwater.

Urge your NYS senator and Assemblymemberto:

  • Protect Long Island's sole source of drinking water from pesticides.
  • If the DEC fails to act, the NYS Legislature must step in to ban the top two pesticides detected in Long Island's groundwater—metalaxyl and imidacloprid!

More information on the worst three toxic offenders

More information on case for a zero tolerance policy

CCE's comments to the DEC on the 2011 LI Pesticide Use Management Plan (LIPUMP)

Read the letter to the DEC on the 2011 LIPUMP that 22 groups signed onto

Updated by bsmith 6/17/13