Rep. Brinks Introduces Legislation Banning Hazardous Chemical Lindane

Chemical used as lice treatment linked to health risks, wildlife contamination
Thursday, June 6, 2013

LANSING - State Representative Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) introduced legislation today that would ban the sale of lice or scabies treatments containing the chemical lindane in Michigan, unless the product is used under the supervision of a physician in his or her office. Lindane has been suspected of being a carcinogen in humans and has been connected to increased rates of miscarriage, liver toxicity and kidney failure. When the chemical — frequently used in shampoos — is washed down the drain and reaches bodies of water such as the Great Lakes, it is absorbed by fish and poses a threat to people who then consume them.

“Lindane has been proven to be a hazard to human health. That’s why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has already banned its use as an agricultural insecticide. It is considered especially risky when used by children or the elderly,” Brinks said. “We owe it to the people of Michigan to protect them against such a harmful substance, too, especially when there are safer treatments on the market.”

The use of lindane has been banned in California since 2002. A recent study found that the ban hadn’t reduced the effectiveness of lice and scabies treatments, had improved environmental quality and led to fewer accidental exposures. A bill to ban lindane treatments in Michigan was passed by the state House of Representatives in 2009 but wasn’t voted on by the Senate.

“By banning the sale of lindane in Michigan, we will be protecting both our people and the environment,” Brinks said. “I look forward to working across the aisle to move this bill through the Legislature.”