2000 Designing Greener Chemicals Award
Dow AgroSciences LLC
Sentricon™ Termite Colony Elimination System,
A New Paradigm for Termite Control
Innovation and Benefits: Dow's Sentricon™ System eliminates termite colonies with highly specific bait applied only where termites are active; it replaces widespread applications of pesticide in the soil around houses and other structures. The U.S. EPA has registered Sentricon™ as a reduced-risk pesticide. Dow's system reduces the use of hazardous materials and reduces potential impacts on human health and the environment. By late1999, Sentricon™ was used for over 300,000 structures in the United States.
The annual cost of termite treatments to the U.S. consumer is about $1.5 billion, and each year as many as 1.5 million homeowners will experience a termite problem and seek a control option. From the 1940s until 1995, the nearly universal treatment approach for subterranean termite control involved the placement of large volumes of insecticide dilutions into the soil surrounding a structure to create a chemical barrier through which termites could not penetrate. Problems with this approach include difficulty in establishing an uninterrupted barrier in the vast array of soil and structural conditions, use of large volumes of insecticide dilution, and potential hazards associated with accidental misapplications, spills, off-target applications, and worker exposure. These inherent problems associated with the use of chemical barrier approaches for subterranean termite control created a need for a better method. The search for a baiting alternative was the focus of a research program established by Dr. Nan-Yao Su of the University of Florida who, in the 1980s, had identified the characteristics needed for a successful termite bait toxicant.
The unique properties of hexaflumuron made it an excellent choice for use in controlling subterranean termite colonies. The Sentricon™ Termite Colony Elimination System, developed by Dow AgroSciences in collaboration with Dr. Su, was launched commercially in 1995 after receiving U.S. EPA registration as a reduced-risk pesticide. Sentricon™ represents truly novel technology employing an Integrated Pest Management approach using monitoring and targeted delivery of a highly specific bait. Because it eliminates termite colonies threatening structures using a targeted approach, Sentricon™ delivers unmatched technical performance, environmental compatibility, and reduced human risk. The properties of hexaflumuron as a termite control agent are attractive from an environmental and human risk perspective, but more important, the potential for adverse effects is dramatically reduced because it is present only in very small quantities in stations with termite activity. The comparisons to barrier methods show significant reduction in the use of hazardous materials and substantial reduction in potential impacts on human health and the environment.
The discovery of hexaflumuron’s activity with its unique fit and applicability for use as a termite bait was a key milestone for the structural pest control industry and Dow AgroSciences. The development and commercial launch of Sentricon™ changed the paradigm for protecting structures from damage caused by subterranean termites. The development of novel research methodologies, new delivery systems, and the establishment of an approach that integrates monitoring and baiting typify the innovation that has been a hallmark of the project. More than 300,000 structures across the United States are now being safeguarded through application of this revolutionary technology, and adoption is growing rapidly.
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