EPA Proposes New Mitigation Measures for Rodenticides, Including Pilot for Protecting Endangered Species

This original announcement was published by the EPA on November 29, 2022. Click here for more information.

EPA Proposes New Mitigation Measures for Rodenticides, Including Pilot for Protecting Endangered Species

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new measures to protect human health and the environment for 11 rodenticides, including measures to reduce potential exposures to three federally listed endangered and threatened (“listed”) species and one critical habitat.  

This work furthers the goals outlined in EPA’s April 2022 Endangered Species Act (ESA) Workplan and one of the ESA pilots described in its November 2022 update to provide practical, timely protections for listed species from pesticides. 

Each year, rodents cause significant damage to property, crops, and food supplies across the United States. They may also spread diseases, posing a serious risk to public health. Rodenticides are used in residential, agricultural, and non-agricultural settings to control a variety of pests including house mice, Norway rats, roof rats, moles, voles, pocket gophers, prairie dogs, ground squirrels, feral hogs, and mongooses. 

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requires EPA to review registered pesticides every 15 years to ensure that, as the ability to assess risk evolves and as policies and practices change, the pesticides continue to meet the statutory standard of causing no unreasonable adverse effects on human health or the environment. When EPA identifies unreasonable adverse effects to human health or the environment, it proposes amendments to pesticide labels to mitigate these risks. During registration review, the Agency also has obligations under the ESA that may result in additional assessments and mitigations.  

Proposed Risk Mitigation Measures 

In 2008, EPA issued a risk mitigation decision (RMD) for 10 rodenticides that represented the Agency’s final decision on the reregistration eligibility of rodenticide products at that time and constituted the Agency’s final action in response to the remand order in West Harlem Environmental Action and Natural Resources Defense Council v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The 2008 RMD included mitigation measures to reduce risks to human health and non-target organisms. For example, EPA implemented minimum packaging size requirements for products on the consumer market (must be in packages one pound or less), prohibited products intended for general consumers (i.e., homeowners or residential consumers) from containing second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs), and required tamper- and weather-resistant bait stations for outdoor, above-ground placements where children, pets, and wildlife may be present.  

The proposed interim decisions (PIDs) released today cover three first-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (FGARs), four SGARs, and four non-anticoagulant rodenticides. Strychnine (the 11th rodenticide) was not part of the 2008 RMD but is now included as part of EPA’s registration review of the rodenticide group. 

These PIDs build on the earlier protections by proposing additional mitigation measures based on findings in the 2020 draft human health and ecological risk assessments (DRAs) and feedback submitted during the DRAs’ public comment period. These measures are intended to reduce exposure to non-target organisms such as mammals and birds that may inadvertently consume rodenticides through their prey, or animals that may consume the rodenticide directly. Proposed measures include requiring bait to be placed in tamper-resistant bait boxes to ensure it is contained, and requiring users to collect carcasses of rodents that may have consumed rodenticides to prevent further exposures to non-target organisms that could consume the carcasses. In addition, the PIDs propose that all products, excluding those registered solely for use by homeowners, include label language directing users to access the web-based Bulletins Live! Two and follow the measures contained in any Endangered Species Protection Bulletin(s) for the area in which the user is applying the product.   

Endangered Species Pilot 

The ESA workplan described how EPA is developing early mitigation for a subset of species where EPA predicts a likelihood of a jeopardy or adverse modification finding for one or more of the registration review pilot pesticides if mitigation is not undertaken. One of these pilots is for rodenticides, which will focus on addressing effects to mammals and birds that consume rodenticide bait (primary consumers) and to birds, mammals and reptiles that consume primary consumers (secondary consumers).  

As part of its registration review ESA pilot for the rodenticides, EPA evaluated their potential effects on individuals and populations of Stephens’ kangaroo rat, Attwater’s prairie chicken, and the California condor and its designated critical habitat. EPA’s draft evaluation determined that rodenticide use is “likely to adversely affect” these three species but predicted the proposed mitigations will protect them from likely “jeopardy” (i.e., potential impacts to the survival of listed species) and “adverse modification” of critical habitat. A “likely to adversely affect” determination means EPA reasonably expects that at least one individual animal of any of the three species may be exposed to one or more of the rodenticides at a sufficient level to have an adverse effect.    

EPA’s draft likelihood of jeopardy and adverse modification predictions examine effects of the rodenticides at the species scale (i.e., the population as opposed to an individual of a species). While EPA has made predictions about the likelihood of jeopardy and adverse modification, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is responsible for making the actual jeopardy/adverse modification findings for these species and has the sole authority to do so. 

EPA chose these three listed species because they represent species that may be affected by rodenticides through different routes of exposure, like primary consumption, for example, by Stephens’ kangaroo rat and Attwater’s prairie chicken and secondary consumption, for example, by California condor.

To focus the mitigations where they are most needed while retaining options for rodenticide users, the proposed mitigation measures for the three listed species would be targeted in specific geographic areas most relevant to the species. The PIDs include proposed mitigation measures to be included on the Bulletins Live! Two website for the species and the critical habitat of the California Condor. 

The draft evaluation for the three species and one critical habitat and associated mitigation measures are pilots for other listed species that may be similarly exposed and affected by rodenticides. In developing and applying mitigation measures for these species, EPA recognized that not all rodenticides have the same effects.  

Next Steps  

In addition to describing the pilot and the mitigation measures for the selected species, the PIDs also describe EPA’s plans for expanding those mitigation measures to the other approximately 90 listed species potentially affected by rodenticides. This plan, when finalized, will be known as the Rodenticide Strategy the Agency described in its November 2022 update to its ESA Workplan.  

EPA also intends to make effects determinations for all listed species available in a draft biological evaluation (BE), which the Agency anticipates making available for public comment in November 2023. The BEs will contain EPA’s draft analysis of the potential effects of the rodenticides on listed species and their designated critical habitats and will identify mitigation measures for these species and critical habitats to avoid or minimize exposure from the rodenticides (Rodenticide Strategy). EPA expects to complete the final BE for the rodenticides in November 2024.  

If EPA’s final BE continues to find that rodenticide use is likely to adversely affect listed species or adversely modify their critical habitats, then EPA will initiate formal consultation and share its findings with USFWS, which will use the information in EPA’s BE to inform its biological opinions. If the USFWS determines in its final biological opinions that additional mitigations are necessary to address any jeopardy or adverse modification determination, or to address any incidental take, then EPA will work to ensure that any necessary registration or labeling changes are made.   

The PIDs are now available for public comment in their respective pesticide registration review dockets at www.regulations.gov for 75 days. See the Federal Register notice for more information. After the PIDs, the next step in the registration review process is issuing an interim decision. 

For more information, visit EPA’s rodent control pesticide safety review webpage.

EPA Approves Stronger Plans for Certification of Pesticide Applicators

This original announcement was published by EPA on November 22, 2022. Click here for more information!

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved 13 state and federal agency certification plans that comply with the improved federal standards to enhance worker safety under the 2017 Certification of Pesticide Applicators (CPA) rule.

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requires authorities to have an EPA-approved plan to certify applicators of restricted use pesticides (RUPs). To date, of the nation’s 68 certification programs, EPA has reviewed all proposed modified plans and has approved eight plans from states and territories and five from federal agencies, of which all are now starting to be implemented.

In 2017, EPA updated the CPA regulations, setting stronger standards for people who apply RUPs. Improvements include enhancing applicator competency standards to ensure RUPs are used safely, establishing a nationwide minimum age for certified applicators and persons working under their direct supervision, and protection for noncertified applicators by requiring training before they can use RUPs (under the direct supervision of a certified applicator), among others.

The implementation of revised certification programs is crucial to reducing potential RUP exposures to certified applicators and those working under their direct supervision, other workers, the public, and the environment.

The following approved state and territory certification plans meet or exceed the standards mandated in the 2017 CPA rule:

  • Alaska (Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)
  • California (California Department of Pesticide Regulation)
  • Nebraska (Nebraska Department of Agriculture)
  • New York (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation)
  • Oregon (Oregon Department of Agriculture)
  • Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture)
  • Vermont (Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets)
  • U.S. Virgin Islands (U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources)

In addition, the following federal agency certification plans meet or exceed the standards mandated in the 2017 CPA rule:

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services, Plant Protection and Quarantine
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service
  • U.S. Department of Defense
  • U.S. Department of Energy; Bonneville Power Administration
  • U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management

State, territory and tribal authorities with existing plans can continue using those plans until November 4, 2023, consistent with EPA’s recently issued extension (87 FR 50953, August 19, 2022). EPA is working closely with authorities to address challenges in revising their plans and will continue to approve plans on a rolling basis. After November 4, 2023, only authorities with EPA-approved modified certification plans can continue to certify applicators of RUPs.

EPA makes these certification plans available to the public by:

  • Tracking the progress of certification plan reviews and approvals here.
  • Approving certification plans as they are ready and announcing the approvals in batched Federal Register Notices (approximately quarterly).
  • Making all pre-2017 and newly approved certification plans publicly available in EPA’s Certification Plan and Reporting Database (CPARD) here.

Upon publication, the Federal Register Notice will be available in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2022-0509 at www.regulations.gov.

EPA Advances Early Pesticides Protections for Endangered Species, Increases Regulatory Certainty for Agriculture

This original announcement was published by the EPA on November 16, 2022. Click here for more information.

 

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an Endangered Species Act (ESA) Workplan Update that outlines major steps to increase protections for wildlife and regulatory certainty for pesticide users. The Workplan Update details how EPA will pursue protections for nontarget species, including federally listed endangered and threatened (i.e., listed) species, earlier in the process for pesticide registration review and other Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) actions. These early protections will help EPA comply with the ESA, thus reducing the Agency’s legal vulnerability, providing farmers with more predictable access to pesticides, and simplifying the ESA-FIFRA process that, left unchanged, creates both significant litigation risk and a workload far exceeding what EPA has the resources to handle. 

This update is a follow-up to EPA’s April 2022 ESA Workplan that addresses the complexity of meeting its ESA obligations for thousands of FIFRA actions annually. Among other things, the ESA Workplan prioritizes certain FIFRA actions for ESA compliance, outlines how EPA will pursue early mitigation for listed species under FIFRA, and describes directions for expediting and simplifying the current pesticide consultation process.  

When EPA registers a pesticide or reevaluates it in registration review, it has a responsibility under FIFRA to determine whether the pesticide presents unreasonable adverse effects to human health or the environment. EPA conducts human health and ecological risk assessments to determine what risks are posed by a pesticide and whether changes to the use(s) or proposed use(s) are necessary to protect human health or the environment. In 2007, an amendment to FIFRA formalized a requirement that EPA review each registered pesticide every 15 years. This amendment set the registration review deadline for pesticides registered before Oct. 1, 2007, as Oct. 1, 2022. EPA shared an update on its registration review work in Sept. 2022. 

EPA also has a responsibility under the ESA to ensure certain pesticide registrations do not jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or adversely modify their designated critical habitats. In the past few decades, EPA has seen an increase in litigation due to the Agency’s failures to meet its ESA obligations when taking FIFRA actions. Over the next six years, existing court-enforceable deadlines will require EPA to complete ESA reviews for 18 pesticides—the most the Agency estimates it can handle during this period based on its current capacity and processes. Ongoing litigation and settlement discussions for other lawsuits cover dozens of additional pesticides and will likely fill the Agency’s ESA workload well beyond 2030. If EPA’s ESA efforts continue at this pace, a future court may decide to drastically curtail pesticide use until EPA meets its obligations. This unsustainable and legally tenuous situation not only provides inadequate protection for listed species but also creates regulatory uncertainty for farmers and other pesticide users.  

ESA Workplan Update  

Today’s document is EPA’s first update to the ESA Workplan and covers four main goals:  

  1. Describes EPA’s overall approach to mitigating ecological risks in registration review, which includes prioritization of registration review cases based on opportunities to reduce a pesticide’s risk to human health or the environment.  
  2. Proposes a menu of FIFRA Interim Ecological Mitigation measures that EPA will draw from for many future conventional and biological pesticide registration and registration review actions to protect nontarget species. For each FIFRA action, EPA will consider this menu and propose, based on the risks and benefits of the particular pesticide, which specific measures to include on the pesticide label.   
  3. Proposes label language to expand the use of online endangered species protection bulletins to implement geographically specific mitigation measures for individual listed species. These measures are designed to focus protections only in specific needed areas, thus minimizing impacts to agriculture. Where needed, EPA may develop these measures to complement the generic FIFRA ecological mitigation described above.  
  4. Describes current and future programmatic initiatives with other federal agencies to prioritize mitigation for listed species that are particularly vulnerable to pesticides and to improve the efficiency and timeliness of the ESA-FIFRA process.   

On Nov. 17, EPA is hosting a webinar to discuss these efforts and answer questions (register here). EPA will continue to share progress on existing and future ESA initiatives with stakeholders through updates to its website and other public forums. 

FIFRA Interim Ecological Mitigation measures to protect nontarget species 

The first strategy described in EPA’s ESA Workplan is to “meet ESA obligations for FIFRA actions.” As part of its work to execute this strategy, EPA has identified a menu of Interim Ecological Mitigation measures it will use as a starting point to address pesticide risks to nontarget species during registration and registration review.  

The menu of Interim Ecological Mitigation will include measures to reduce pesticide spray drift and pesticide runoff and will be considered as part of EPA’s upcoming proposed interim registration review decisions. While EPA intends for this set of Interim Ecological Mitigation measures to apply widely to many pesticides, EPA will consider the menu of options for any given pesticide depending on the level of risk that it poses to species and the exposure route. 

In contrast to identifying mitigation measures pesticide-by-pesticide or species-by-species as EPA has typically done in the past, EPA anticipates that this approach will more efficiently establish protections for nontarget species, including listed species, and standardize the protections across similar pesticides.  

Endangered species protection bulletins and other label language 

To better protect listed and other nontarget species, EPA will also work with registrants to add language on pesticide incident reporting, advisory language to protect insect pollinators, and language to most outdoor-use pesticide labels that directs users to reference Bulletins Live! Two 

Bulletins Live! Two is a website where pesticide users can find endangered species protection bulletins. These bulletins describe geographically specific use limitations to protect threatened and endangered species and their designated critical habitat.  

EPA expects that once consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service is completed for any given outdoor-use pesticide, endangered species protection bulletins may be necessary for at least one listed species.  

EPA also expects that working with registrants to proactively add the reference to Bulletins Live! Two to pesticide labels in advance of consultation will ultimately save the Agency, state partners, and registrants time and resources by minimizing the number of amendments to labels.  

Improving the pesticide consultation process and new approaches to identifying mitigation for multiple species and pesticides 

The ESA Workplan Update also describes initiatives that will help EPA and other federal agencies improve approaches to mitigation under the ESA and improve the interagency consultation process outlined in the ESA Workplan. These initiatives include EPA’s work to identify ESA mitigation measures for pilot species, incorporate early ESA mitigation measures for groups of pesticides (e.g., herbicides), and develop region-specific ESA mitigations. 

EPA is accepting public comment on the proposed set of interim mitigation measures and the proposed revisions to label language included in the Workplan Update appendix for 75 days in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2022-0908 at regulations.gov. 

EPA Adds Chitosan to the List of Active Ingredients Eligible for Minimum Risk Pesticide Exemption

This original announcement was published by the EPA on November 9, 2022. Click here for more information.

 

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule adding chitosan (Poly-D-Glucosamine), a naturally occurring substance found in the cell walls of all crustaceans, most fungi, and the exoskeletons of most insects, to its minimum risk pesticide exemption list. In doing so, EPA is specifying that the listing also includes those chitosan salts that can be formed when chitosan is mixed with the acids that are listed as active or inert ingredients eligible for use in minimum risk pesticide products.  

The purpose of the exemption list is to eliminate the need for the Agency to expend significant resources to regulate products deemed to be of minimum risk to human health and the environment. Products that contain only those active and inert ingredients allowed by the exemption and meet certain Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requirements are exempt from the normal FIFRA registration requirements. Approximately a decade has passed since a substance was added to the list of ingredients eligible for the minimum risk pesticide exemption. 

Chitosan is currently registered with EPA under FIFRA as a fungicide, antimicrobial agent, and plant growth regulator that boosts the ability of plants to defend against fungal infections. Chitosan is currently widely available to the public for non-pesticidal uses, and has established applications in various industries including textiles, cosmetics, beverage processing, and water treatment.  

On October 10, 2018, EPA received a petition from Tidal Vision Products, LLC requesting that chitosan be added to the list of active ingredients allowed in exempted minimum risk pesticide products. In November 2020, EPA requested comments from the public on a proposed rule to add chitosan to the list of active ingredients eligible for the exemption. In November 2021, EPA requested additional information from the petitioner on chitosan salts and their potential effect on the environment. In response, received two aquatic toxicity reports which were made available for public comment via a Notice of Data Availability in May 2022. 

After reviewing the latest available science, reviewing comments on the proposed rule and on the Notice of Data Availability, EPA is now adding chitosan to its list of active ingredients eligible for EPA’s minimum risk pesticide exemption. The Agency’s analysis of the available data suggests that chitosan and chitosan salts are of low toxicity to humans and no environmental risks of concern have been identified. As a result of this final rule, chitosan products will no longer need to be registered under FIFRA. EPA estimates this action will result in cost savings of up to $116,000 initially and about $3,400 per year thereafter for registrants and manufacturers of chitosan-containing pesticide products. 

The final rule is available in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2019-0701 at www.regulations.gov. 

EPA Provides Annual Notification of Updates to the Environmental Chemistry Methods Index for Monitoring Pesticide Residues

This original announcement was published by the EPA on October 28, 2022. Click here for more information!

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing an annual summary of additions to the Environmental Chemistry Methods (ECM) Index made during FY 2022. The ECM Index is a list which currently includes 889 analytical methods for monitoring pesticide residues, primarily in soil or water. In the past year, 24 new analytical methods have been added to the ECM Index, including three methods for a newly registered pesticide. The ECM reports listed in the ECM Index were submitted to EPA by pesticide registrants to support submitted field and monitoring studies, and potential monitoring by states, tribes and other entities.  

ECMs may be used in conjunction with Aquatic Life Benchmarks, which are estimated concentrations below which pesticides are not expected to present a risk of concern for freshwater organisms. Comparing concentrations of a pesticide in water using ECMs to Aquatic Life Benchmarks can be helpful in interpreting monitoring data and in identifying and prioritizing monitoring sites for further investigation. State, tribal and local governments as well as international regulatory authorities and researchers may use these ECMs in their work. 

EPA updates the ECM Index quarterly and as new chemicals are registered. 

EPA Releases Draft Assessment of Effects of Inpyrfluxam on Endangered Species for Public Comment

This original announcement was published by the EPA on October 27, 2022. Click here for more information.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing its draft biological evaluation (BE) that contains the Agency’s analysis of the potential effects of the fungicide inpyrfluxam on federally listed endangered and threatened (listed) species and their designated critical habitats. While EPA finds that inpyrfluxam is likely to adversely affect certain listed species and critical habitats, EPA does not predict that inpyrfluxam will lead to a future jeopardy or adverse modification finding for these species and habitats. The draft BE will be available for public comment for 60 days. 

The draft BE is part of EPA’s efforts to meet its obligations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which are discussed in EPA’s workplan: Balancing Wildlife Protection and Responsible Pesticide Use 

Background on inpyrfluxam 

Inpyrfluxam is a fungicide that was first registered in 2020. It is used to protect a variety of crops against fungal pests, such as Rhizoctonia species, that cause seed decay, seedling damping‐off, and root rot. The proposed and currently approved product labels include some mitigation measures to reduce risks to plants and animals. These risks were identified in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) ecological risk assessments that EPA conducted before registering products containing inpyrfluxam.

After EPA registered several products containing the new active ingredient inpyrfluxam, several organizations challenged those registrations because EPA had not met its ESA obligations before issuing the registrations. Under the ESA, EPA must assess the effects of inpyrfluxam on listed species and designated critical habitats and, if necessary, initiate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and/or the National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services). In July 2022, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Center for Biological Diversity v. EPA (No. 20-73146) that EPA was required to complete a final effects determination, which EPA will include in its final inpyrfluxam BE, by June 22, 2023. 

Draft biological evaluation 

For this draft BE, EPA evaluated the effects of inpyrfluxam on over 1,700 listed species and over 800 designated critical habitats in the United States. The BE encompasses all currently proposed and registered uses and product labels for pesticide products containing inpyrfluxam. EPA’s draft BE finds that inpyrfluxam: 

  • Will have no effect on 35 percent of species and 33 percent of designated critical habitats. 
  • May affect but is not likely to adversely affect 56 percent of species and 58 percent of designated critical habitats.  
  • Is likely to adversely affect 9 percent of listed species and 8 percent of designated critical habitats.  

“may affect but is not likely to adversely affect” determination is made when effects on a listed species or designated critical habitat are expected to be discountable (for example, effects that are extremely unlikely to occur), insignificant, or beneficial. A “likely to adversely affect” (LAA) determination means that EPA reasonably expects that at least one individual animal or plant, among a variety of listed species, may be exposed to inpyrfluxam at a sufficient level to have an adverse effect. This is the case even if a listed species is almost recovered to a point where it may no longer need to be listed.  

In this BE, EPA further refined its analysis to predict the likelihood that inpyrfluxam use could lead to a future jeopardy finding for certain listed species or adverse modification finding for designated critical habitats. In contrast to its LAA determinations, EPA’s draft likelihood of jeopardy and adverse modification predictions examine effects of inpyrfluxam at the species scale (population as opposed to an individual of a species). EPA does not predict that the approved and proposed uses of inpyrfluxam would lead to future jeopardy for any listed species or adversely modify their critical habitats. While EPA has made predictions about the likelihood of jeopardy and adverse modification as part of its effects determinations consistent with 50 CFR 402.40(b)(1), the Services are responsible for making the actual jeopardy/adverse modification findings and have the sole authority to do so. 

After reviewing public comments on the draft BE, EPA will make any appropriate changes and issue a final BE. If EPA’s final BE continues to find that inpyrfluxam is likely to adversely affect listed species and/or their designated critical habitats, then EPA will initiate formal consultation and share its findings with the appropriate Service(s). During formal consultation, the Services use the information in EPA’s BE to inform their biological opinions. If the Services determine in their final biological opinions that additional mitigations are necessary to address any jeopardy or adverse modification determination or to address any incidental take, then EPA will work to ensure that any necessary registration or labeling changes are made.

The draft BE is available for public comment for 60 days in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2018-0038-0051. 

EPA Hosting Webinar on Protecting Species through Pesticide Registration Review

This original announcement was published by the EPA on October 21, 2022. Click here for more information. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is holding a public webinar on Nov. 17, 2022, to share an update on efforts to better protect non-target species, including federally listed endangered and threatened (listed) species, from registered conventional pesticides.  

This webinar is a follow-up to EPA’s April 2022 Workplan outlining actions that will help EPA meet its obligations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The webinar will include information on practical protections for non-target organisms, including listed species that EPA expects to adopt as part of many future registration review decisions 

During the webinar, EPA staff will discuss: 

  • Efforts to develop mitigation measures to protect species during the registration review process for conventional pesticides. 
  • The continued use of Bulletins Live! Two as a tool to set forth geographically specific pesticide use limitations to protect certain listed species. 
  • Additional approaches for advancing the second and third strategies in the April 2022 Workplan: improving approaches to ESA mitigation and improving the interagency consultation process. 
  • Opportunities for public participation. 

EPA invites all interested stakeholders to attend. The Nov. 17 meeting will be held via webinar from 12:30 p.m. EST. A meeting link and agenda will be sent to everyone who registers for the event. 

Register now

Background 

When EPA registers a pesticide or reevaluates it in registration review, the Agency has a responsibility under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to determine whether the pesticide presents unreasonable adverse effects on human health or the environment. EPA conducts human health and ecological risk assessments to determine what risks are posed by a pesticide and whether changes to the use or proposed use are necessary to protect the environment.  

EPA also has a responsibility under the ESA to ensure that certain pesticide registrations do not jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or adversely modify their designated critical habitats.  In the past couple of decades, EPA has seen an increase in litigation due to the Agency’s failures to meet its ESA obligations when taking FIFRA actions. In April 2022, EPA released a workplan to address the complexity of meeting its ESA obligations under FIFRA. Because EPA does not have the capacity or scientific processes in place to meet all of its obligations immediately, the workplan identifies the FIFRA actions that are the highest priority for fulfilling its ESA obligations. These include actions with court-enforceable deadlines and new registrations of conventional pesticides.  

The ESA workplan also outlines extensive actions that EPA will pursue over time, in collaboration with other federal agencies, to improve protection for listed species and meet its ESA obligations while minimizing regulatory impacts to pesticide users.  

As part of implementing the workplan, EPA continues to consider strategies and processes to address its ESA obligations for registration review decisions. As part of the webinar, EPA will discuss FIFRA mitigation measures that EPA is considering proposing to address risks to non-target species, including listed species, and other key steps the Agency plans to pursue under its workplan.     

EPA Releases Updated Lists of Disinfectants for Emerging Viral Pathogens Including Ebola

This original announcement was published by the EPA on October 19, 2022. Click here for more information.

 

On October 12, 2022, EPA triggered its emerging viral pathogen (EVP) guidance in support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) response to the Ebola virus cases in western Uganda. With EPA’s EVP guidance, additional disinfectants, for which emerging viral pathogen claims have been approved, can be used against the Ebola virus. 

EPA developed its EVP guidance to facilitate the availability of EPA-registered disinfectants for use against emerging viral pathogens. EPA divides viruses into three tiers based on how difficult they are to kill. The Ebola virus falls into Tier 1, the category of viruses that are easiest to kill. Thus, EPA expects disinfectants qualified for use against any emerging viral pathogens in Tiers 1, 2, and 3 to be effective against the Ebola virus when used according to the label use directions.  

The use of products with EVP claims supplements but does not replace other infection control practices. Individuals should follow CDC, state, and local public health guidelines.  

EPA’s website provides the list of products registered for use against Ebola and list of disinfectants for emerging viral pathogens.

EPA Responds to Petition and Releases Revised Human Health Risk Assessment for Tetrachlorvinphos

This original announcement was published by the EPA on October 13, 2022. Click here for more information.

 

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a revised human health risk assessment for the pesticide tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP) and its registered pet uses to control various insects including public health pests such as fleas, ticks, flies, lice, and pest larvae. 

Based on this assessment, the Agency is issuing a partial grant / partial denial of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) 2009 petition to cancel all pet uses of TCVP and is moving to draft a proposed Notice of Intent to Cancel (NOIC) the TCVP pet collars registrations. Having conducted an extensive evaluation of available data on TCVP’s potential human health impacts, EPA finds that there are unacceptable risks from pet collars for children exposed when contacting pets wearing collars and is granting the petition as to pet collars containing TCVP. However, it is EPA’s understanding that the registrant is currently working on two studies related to the risks of TCVP from pet collars and plans to submit that data to EPA by the end of the year. Should the Agency receive data that impacts the current conclusions for TCVP pet collars, the Agency will review that data, make its review publicly available, update the TCVP risk assessment as appropriate, and make this information available for public comment. Additionally, EPA is denying the petition as to the remainder of currently registered TCVP pet uses based on the Agency not finding risks of concern to residents from use of liquid pumps/trigger sprays containing TCVP. 

Petition response 

EPA initially issued a denial of NRDC’s petition in November 2014 based on the available data at the time. In January 2015, NRDC filed a petition for review of EPA’s denial. In September 2015, EPA sought a voluntary remand of its 2014 denial, which the Court granted in June 2016. In December 2016, EPA issued a new risk assessment for TCVP, and EPA informed NRDC in March 2017 that the Agency intended to address any risk mitigation issues in the course of registration review. On a Petition for Writ of Mandamus, the Ninth Circuit ordered EPA to respond to NRDC’s petition by July 21, 2020, which EPA did by denying the petition. On a Petition for Review of that 2020 denial, the Court vacated EPA’s decision and remanded to the Agency for a new decision by October 11, 2022.  

Upon reevaluation of the data in the October 2022 revised human health risk assessment, the Agency found that risk estimates for all pet collars exceeded the level of concern for residential uses. Risk estimates for currently registered liquid sprays containing TCVP do not exceed EPA’s level of concern. Based on currently available data and taking into consideration the benefits of currently registered residential uses for TCVP, EPA cannot determine that there are no unreasonable adverse effects from residential exposure to TCVP in pet collars. EPA is granting the petition to cancel TCVP use in pet collars in order to reduce risks to vulnerable populations, especially children, by reducing TCVP exposure from pet collars. 

EPA is moving to draft a proposed NOIC for TCVP pet collars but is awaiting more data from the registrant that the registrant has informed EPA it is preparing. EPA intends to incorporate into the drafting of the NOIC any data received by the end of the year. Should the new data change the Agency’s conclusions, those conclusions will be captured in an updated risk assessment, as well as the Proposed Interim Decision (PID) for TCVP, which will be open for public comment. The Agency would not further pursue a NOIC if the data demonstrate that there is no longer a risk of concern for any TCVP pet collars. 

Revised human health risk assessment 

The October 2022 revised human health risk assessment updates a 2020 risk assessment and uses a more refined assessment of exposure data. EPA reevaluated the methodology used in a pet collar dust torsion study submitted and originally reviewed in 2019 and determined that the study did not adequately assess the physical form (liquid or dust) of TCVP released from the pet collars.  

The October 2022 revised human health risk assessment is the basis for EPA’s response to NRDC’s petition on remand and will also be incorporated into the ongoing registration review of TCVP under section 3(g) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) (a separate process from the NRDC response). FIFRA section 3(g) requires EPA to review pesticides every 15 years to ensure that risk assessments reflect the best available science, and to ensure that registered products in the marketplace do not present unreasonable adverse effects to human health and the environment.  

The action EPA is announcing today also responds to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ vacatur of EPA’s 2020 denial of NRDC’s petition to cancel all pet uses of TCVP and remand to the Agency to issue a new response to NRDC’s petition by October 11, 2022. 

EPA will take public comment on the revised human health risk assessment during the same 60-day public comment period that the Agency plans to open when it issues its PID in 2023. The PID, which is the next step in the FIFRA registration review process, will outline potential risk management options for this insecticide to address any potential risks of concern identified in the draft risk assessments. EPA will update the TCVP risk assessment and make this updated information available for public comment. Should data be submitted to EPA by the end of the year that demonstrates that there is no longer a risk of concern for any TCVP pet collars, the Agency would no longer pursue a NOIC. Based on the currently available data, EPA is moving to initiate a NOIC for TCVP pet collars. Learn more about the registration review process. 

EPA always encourages consumers to read and follow all pesticide product labels. Product labels are the law, and they are a vital part of EPA’s efforts to ensure that consumers have the information they need to safely, legally, and effectively use EPA-approved pesticide products.    

Consumers should continue to read the label and take certain precautions when handling TCVP products in residential areas. These precautions are listed on TCVP product labels, including not allowing children to play with TCVP pet collar products, keeping TCVP spray out of reach of children, and washing hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling. 

EPA Releases Test Methods and Guidance for Long-Lasting Antimicrobial Efficacy Claims

This original announcement was published by the EPA on October 8, 2022. Click here for more information.

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing finalized guidance and test methods for registering antimicrobial products with residual efficacy against viruses and bacteria. While traditional disinfectants only kill viruses and bacteria that are on the surface at the time they are used, surfaces treated with residual antimicrobial products kill pathogens that come into contact with the surface days, weeks or years after the product is applied.  

Public interest in products with residual efficacy has increased during the COVID-19 public health emergency. In October 2020, EPA issued interim guidance and test methods for public comment as a pathway for companies to add claims of residual efficacy to their products’ labels.  

In finalizing the guidance, EPA made minor modifications to better represent the real-world conditions under which products with residual efficacy will be used. These revisions were based on data from EPA laboratory studies and information submitted through public comments.  

The finalized test methods and guidance are available at docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2020-0529 at regulations.gov 

EPA maintains both a list of traditional disinfectants that kill the virus that causes COVID-19 (List N) and a list of products with residual efficacy that can be used to supplement routine cleaning and disinfection against the virus (List N Appendix). In addition, EPA also recently released a list of products effective against emerging viral pathogens, including monkeypox (List Q). 

Read the Guidance for Products Adding Residual Efficacy Claims.