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alar

alar The first lateral protosepta (see SEPTUM) on either side of the cardinal septum. The term is used in descriptions of the septal development of the rugose corals (Rugosa), and may also be applied to fossulae which occur in a similar position.

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alar

a·lar / ˈālər/ • adj. chiefly Zool. of or relating to a wing or wings. ∎  Anat. winglike or wing-shaped. ∎  Bot. another term for axillary.

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Alar

A·lar / ˈāˌlär/ • n. trademark for daminozide.

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Alar

Alar •verglas • Alar • Mylar • foulard •hoopla

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Alar

Alar


Alar is the trade name for the chemical compound daminozide, manufactured by the Uniroyal Chemical Company. The compound has been used since 1968 to keep apples from falling off trees before they are ripe and to keep them red and firm during storage. As late as the early 1980s, up to 40% of all red apples produced in the United States were treated with Alar.

In 1985, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that UDMH (N,N-dimethylhydrazine), a compound produced during the breakdown of daminozide, was a carcinogen . UDMH was routinely produced during the processing of apples, as in the production of apple juice and apple sauce, and the EPA suggested a ban on the use of Alar by apple growers. An outside review of the EPA studies, however, suggested that they were flawed, and the ban was not instituted. Instead, the agency recommended that Uniroyal conduct further studies on possible health risks from daminozide and UDMH.

Even without a ban, Uniroyal felt the impact of the EPA's research well before its own studies were concluded. Apple growers, fruit processors, legislators, and the general public were all frightened by the possibility that such a widely used chemical might be carcinogenic. Many growers, processors, and store owners pledged not to use the compound nor to buy or sell apples on which it had been used. By 1987, sales of Alar had dropped by 75%.

In 1989, two new studies again brought the subject of Alar to the public's attention. The consumer research organization Consumers' Union found that, using a very sensitive test for the chemical, 11 of 20 red apples they tested contained Alar. In addition, 23 of 44 samples of apple juice tested contained detectable amounts of the compound. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) announced their findings on the compound at about the same time. The NRDC concluded that Alar and certain other agricultural chemicals pose a threat to children about 240 times higher than the one-in-a-million risk traditionally used by the EPA to determine the acceptability of a product used in human foods.

The studies by the NRDC and the Consumers' Union created a panic among consumers, apple growers, and apple processors. Many stores removed all apple products from their shelves, and some growers destroyed their whole crop of apples. The industry suffered millions of dollars in damage. Representatives of the apple industry continued to question how much of a threat Alar truly posed to consumers, claiming that the carcinogenic risks identified by the EPA, NRDC, and Consumers' Union were greatly exaggerated. But in May of that same year, the EPA announced interim data from its most recent study, which showed that UDMH caused blood-vessel tumors in mice. The agency once more declared its intention to ban Alar, and within a month, Uniroyal announced it would end sales of the compound in the United States.

[David E. Newton ]


RESOURCES

PERIODICALS

"Alar: Not Gone, Not Forgotten." Consumer Reports 52 (May 1989): 288292.

Roberts, L. "Alar: The Numbers Game." Science 243 (17 March 1989): 1430.

. "Pesticides and Kids." Science 243 (10 March 1989): 12801281.

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