EPA Takes Action to Protect Public Health by Proposing Cancellation of Pentachlorophenol

This original announcement was published by the EPA on March 5, 2021. Click here for more information.

 

In support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to making evidence-based decisions to protect human health, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking an important step by proposing the cancellation of the registration of pentachlorophenol. Pentachlorophenol is a heavy-duty wood preservative used primarily on utility poles.

After completing a risk assessment, EPA determined that pentachlorophenol poses significant human health risks to workers. To address this issue, EPA is proposing to cancel all uses of pentachlorophenol through the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) registration review process. The agency will accept public comments on this proposed interim decision (PID) for 60 days in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0653 at regulations.gov.

EPA’s proposed action would align the United States with the United Nation’s Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which has banned the use of pentachlorophenol. EPA has worked with industry stakeholders to identify a number of viable, safer alternatives such as copper naphthenate and DCOIT, along with well-established wood preservatives such as chromated arsenicals and creosote.

This proposed interim decision (PID) is the next step in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) registration review process that EPA conducts at least every 15 years. After considering any comments concerning the PID, EPA will issue an interim decision, which would finalize the cancelation of pentachlorophenol.

EPA Opens Comment Period for Draft Biological Opinions on Four Pesticides

This original announcement was published by the EPA on February 19, 2021. Click here for more information.

 

EPA and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) are seeking comment on two NMFS draft biological opinions on four pesticides. Metolachlorbromoxynil and prometryn are herbicides used to control grasses and broadleaf weeds, and 1,3-D is a pesticide used in pre-plant fumigation.

The draft biological opinions evaluate the impact of these pesticides on 26 federally listed endangered and threatened species of Pacific salmon and steelhead in Washington, Oregon, and California. The draft biological opinions find that registered uses of these pesticides do not jeopardize the listed salmon and steelhead populations or their critical habitats.

In addition to the “no jeopardy” findings, the draft biological opinions also describe reasonable and prudent measures (RPMs) to protect the listed species of salmon and steelhead and their critical habitats.

EPA and NMFS encourage public input on the RPMs. In particular, the agencies are seeking input from stakeholders on:

  1. Additional risk reduction options, if any, to include in the RPMs.
  2. Efficacy data to support additional risk reduction options; in the case of 1,3-D, data to support increased soil injection depth and tarping as a means of reducing pesticide loading into aquatic habitats.
  3. Existing stewardship programs to reduce pesticide loading within the range of listed salmonids (i.e., family of coldwater fish that includes salmon and trout) that NMFS should consider for qualification of risk reduction credit in the RPMs.

After the public comment period closes, EPA will provide the collected comments to NMFS for its consideration in developing the final biological opinions.

In publishing these draft biological opinions and accepting public comments, EPA is following the enhanced stakeholder practices for Endangered Species Act consultations finalized in March 2013.

The public comment period will be open for 60 days. The draft biological opinions are included in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2021-0150 at www.regulations.gov.

EPA Registers Copper Surfaces for Residual Use Against Coronavirus

This original announcement was published by the EPA on February 10, 2021. Click here for more information.

 

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that certain copper alloys provide long-term effectiveness against viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. As a result of EPA’s approval, products containing these copper alloys can now be sold and distributed with claims that they kill certain viruses that come into contact with them. This is the first product with residual claims against viruses to be registered for use nationwide. Testing to demonstrate this effectiveness was conducted on harder-to-kill viruses.

“Providing Americans with new tools and information to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 is one of EPA’s top priorities,” said Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff. “Today’s action marks another step forward in EPA’s efforts to listen to the science and provide effective tools to help protect human health.”

In today’s action, EPA is granting an amended registration to the Copper Development Association for an emerging viral pathogen claim to be added to the label of Antimicrobial Copper Alloys- Group 1 (EPA Reg. No. 82012-1), which is made of at least 95.6 percent copper. Amended registrations allow previously registered products to make label changes (e.g., changes to product claims, precautions and/or use directions) and/or formulation changes. In this case, the amended registration is adding virus claims to the product registration.

New efficacy testing supported by the Copper Development Association and conducted according to EPA’s protocols demonstrated certain high-percentage copper alloy products can continuously kill viruses that come into contact with them. Based on testing against harder-to-kill viruses, EPA expects these products to eliminate 99.9 percent of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, within two hours.

Antimicrobial copper alloys can be manufactured into a wide range of surfaces, including doorknobs and handrails. These high-percentage copper alloy products will be added to the List N Appendix, the Agency’s list of residual antiviral products that can be used to supplement routine cleaning and disinfection to combat SARS-CoV-2. To find products for routine cleaning and disinfection, see EPA’s List N.

The use of antimicrobial copper alloy products supplements but does not replace standard infection control practices. Individuals should continue to follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC), state, and local public health guidelines, including critical precautions like mask wearing, social distancing, and ventilation. According to the CDC, COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person to person.

For more information on how copper alloy products can be used against viruses, see EPA’s website or the product’s label in the Pesticide Product and Label System.

EPA Celebrates National Pesticide Safety Education Month

This original announcement was published by the EPA on February 4, 2021. Click here for more information.

During the month of February, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) celebrates National Pesticide Safety Education Month to raise awareness for pesticide safety education and share best practices for using pesticides safely in and around your home.

Reading the label every time you use a pesticide is key to ensuring you are using the pesticide correctly and keeping yourself and your family safe. EPA assesses the risks and benefits of all pesticides sold and distributed in the United States and requires instructions on each pesticide label for how to use the pesticide safely.

Here are more tips to follow for all pesticides:

  • Store pesticides in their original containers with proper labels.
  • Store pesticides out of the reach of children and pets, preferably locked up.
  • Use the amount specified on the label. Using more will not be more effective and may harm you, your loved ones and the environment.
  • Wash hands with soap and water after using a pesticide.
  • Wash clothes that have been in contact with pesticides immediately and separately from other items.
  • Don’t let children and pets enter sprayed areas while they are still wet.
  • Keep pesticides away from food and dishes.

Did you know disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) are pesticides regulated by EPA? As consumers, it’s easy to forget that common household products like antimicrobials, weed killers and insect repellents are pesticides and should be used with proper precautions.

EPA supports projects like the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) to educate pesticide applicators, handlers and farmworkers on working safely with, and around, pesticides. NPIC has been a useful resource to consumers especially during the COVID-19 public health emergency in developing bilingual disinfectant safety materials and providing guidance to the public on how to use EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Coronavirus.

National Pesticide Safety Education Month also recognizes the efforts of land-grant Pesticide Safety Education Programs (PSEPs) as they teach pesticide safety across the country to reach workers and special communities. Through a cooperative agreement with the eXtension Foundation, EPA supports the work of PSEPs to provide workshops and educational tools to approximately 869,000 certified pesticide applicators in a variety of languages and help them meet certification requirements. An additional 2 million people are reached through pesticide safety education programs, including pesticide educators, farm workers and inner-city and rural communities.

Learn more today about pesticide safety by visiting https://www.epa.gov/pesticides.

EPA Holds Virtual Training for Pesticide Applicators in Indian Country

This original announcement was published by the EPA on February 4, 2021. Click here for more information.

 

EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs will host a two-day virtual training on Feb. 10-11, 2021, to certify participants as private applicators of restricted-use pesticides (RUPs) in Indian country under the EPA Plan for the Federal Certification of Applicators of Restricted Use Pesticides within Indian Country (EPA Plan).

RUPs require special care to avoid harming human health and the environment. In accordance with the requirements in 40 CFR § 171, RUPs can only be sold to or used by pesticide applicators who are specially certified, or to persons under the direct supervision of a certified applicator. RUPs can only be used in areas where EPA has explicitly approved or implemented an applicator certification plan for that state, tribe or federal agency.

Any person who uses RUPs in an area of Indian country under the EPA Plan needs a federal certification from EPA. Additionally, some tribes may choose to further restrict or prohibit the use of RUPs in their areas through the implementation of tribal codes, laws, regulations or other applicable requirements. The EPA Plan does not supersede such tribal requirements. Applicators of RUPs in Indian country should take steps to determine if there are additional tribal requirements they must follow.

Applicators interested in attending the two-day, 12-hour course should express interest by providing a full name to EPAcertplan@epa.gov by Feb. 8, 2021. Another training is scheduled for May 12-13, 2021.

EPA Authorizes Emergency Exemptions for Residual Antiviral Surface Coating for Oklahoma and Arkansas

This original announcement was published by the EPA on January 21, 2021. Click here for more information. 

 

Today, EPA announced emergency exemptions for the states of Oklahoma and Arkansas allowing them to permit the use of SurfaceWise2, a residual antiviral surface coating, in American Airlines airport facilities and planes. SurfaceWise2 is already in use in American Airlines airport facilities and planes in certain locations in Texas under a previous EPA emergency exemption.

EPA has also revised the terms of use for SurfaceWise2 for all emergency exemptions. EPA’s initial emergency exemptions specified that the product remained effective for seven days. According to its updated labels, SurfaceWise2 provides residual surface control of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces that are undisturbed for up to 30 days. However, SurfaceWise2 should be reapplied every time surfaces are disinfected to ensure continuous product performance. Exposure to prolonged wetness may adversely impact the efficacy of the product.

SurfaceWise2 is meant to inactivate viruses that land on a surface between regular cleanings. This product is not a replacement for routine cleaning and disinfection with products from EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. EPA recommends that facilities continue to follow the cleaning and disinfection recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Use of this product does not eliminate the need for critical precautions like mask wearing, social distancing, and ventilation. Always follow CDC, state and local public health guidelines. Please note that according to the CDC, while “it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes,” the virus is thought to spread mainly through close contact between individuals.

For more information, see EPA’s website.

EPA Approves Emergency Exemption for Antiviral Air Treatment

This original announcement was published by the EPA on January 16, 2020. Click here for more information.

 

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced approval of an emergency exemption request for use of Grignard Pure, as an additional tool in limited use situations to aid in the fight against COVID-19.

EPA is issuing an emergency exemption for Grignard Pure to be used in certain indoor spaces where social distancing can be challenging. Use of this product does not eliminate the need for critical precautions like mask wearing, social distancing, and ventilation. Always follow CDC, state and local public health guidelines.

This exemption has been granted to Georgia and Tennessee state governments. After carefully reviewing safety and efficacy data, EPA has determined the product will provide another tool to assist States with approved emergency exemptions during the current public health emergency. EPA’s approval will allow the product to be applied in Georgia and Tennessee in certain indoor spaces where adherence to current public health guidelines is impractical or difficult to maintain. Areas of particular concern include breakrooms, locker rooms, bathrooms, lobbies, elevators, eating areas, and food preparation areas within health care facilities, intrastate transportation, food processing facilities, and indoor spaces within buildings—including government facilities—where people are conducting activity deemed essential by the state.

“Today, we are approving the first-ever airborne antiviral product that will help fight the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “There is no higher priority for EPA than protecting the health and safety of Americans and I want to thank those—both within EPA and those outside—who have worked to achieve this important milestone.”

“We are deeply grateful to the diligent teams at EPA who were tireless in evaluating and validating the health, safety and efficacy of Grignard Pure as the first-of-its-kind antimicrobial air treatment,” said Etienne Grignard, co-founder and CEO, Grignard Pure. “Grignard Pure is a passion and a mission for us. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been singularly focused on making Grignard Pure a critical component in achieving the shared commitment we all have—helping people feel safer, getting industries and our economy back to full operation, and using science, technology and engineering to find solutions that move us past the ravages of COVID-19.”

EPA is approving these emergency exemption requests from Georgia and Tennessee under Section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

Application levels are monitored through visual assessment, or sensors which automatically regulate the amount of product suspended in the air. Additionally, the EPA-approved label requires that signs be posted at every entrance to the spaces notifying the public that the space has been treated.

Triethylene glycol (TEG) is the active ingredient in Grignard Pure. TEG is commonly used in fog machines for concerts and theatre productions. EPA reviewed all available data on this product’s effectiveness and safety and concluded that it is capable of killing 98 percent of airborne SARS-CoV-2. TEG may be an irritant for sensitive populations.

For more information, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/section-18-emergency-exemption-requests-and-coronavirus-covid-19.

EPA Takes Action to Investigate PFAS Contamination

This original announcement was published by the EPA on January 15, 2020. Click here for more information.

 

As part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) extensive efforts to address PFAS, today the agency is making new information available about EPA testing that shows PFAS contamination from fluorinated containers.

Through a coordinated effort with both the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a pesticide manufacturer, the agency has determined that fluorinated high-density polyethylene (HDPE) containers that are used to store and transport a mosquito control pesticide product contain PFAS compounds that are leaching into the pesticide product.

While the agency is early in its investigation and assessment of potential impacts on health or the environment, the affected pesticide manufacturer has voluntarily stopped shipment of any products in fluorinated HPDE containers and is conducting its own testing to confirm EPA results and product stability in un-fluorinated containers. In addition, EPA has issued a request for information under the Toxics Substance Control Act (TSCA) to the company that fluorinates the containers used by certain pesticide manufacturers. The TSCA subpoena requests information about the fluorination process used to treat the containers.

As EPA evaluates this issue, the agency asks that pesticide and other companies using fluorinated containers, and entities that provide container fluorination services, engage in good product stewardship and examine their distribution chains to identify potential sources of contamination. EPA will also continue to work closely with the entities involved and their supply and distribution chains, mosquito control districts, the pesticide and packaging industry, federal partners, states, and tribes that may be affected to provide information and guidance on next steps. EPA understands the need to provide guidance to states, tribes, and other users as they prepare to purchase mosquito control products for 2021 and will provide more information as it continues its investigation.

EPA will update the following webpage with information as it becomes available: https://www.epa.gov/pesticides/pfas-packaging

Background

Since first becoming aware of the PFAS contamination issue in early September 2020 through citizen science testing of a pesticide product for mosquito control, EPA has been working to investigate the source of the contamination. Throughout October and November 2020, EPA has worked diligently in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to request samples of the pesticide product and analyze the identified product at different steps of production and manufacturing to determine whether PFAS are present, including issuing an information request to the pesticide registrant on October 5, 2020 seeking information on the affected pesticide’s production, sales, and distribution.

In late December 2020, EPA studied the fluorinated HDPE containers used to store and transport the product and determined the containers are a possible source of PFAS contamination. EPA has been in close contact with Massachusetts, the pesticide registrant and the fluorinated HDPE container treatment company to discuss the issue, as well as to obtain the materials needed to test for PFAS in the product and the fluorinated HDPE containers.

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA is charged with approving active and inert ingredients in the registered pesticide products sold in the United States. EPA has confirmed that PFAS is not a known ingredient or additive in the company’s affected product and is collaboratively working with the registrant as EPA laboratories test samples of the product at different steps of production and manufacturing, in addition to the agency’s study of the containers themselves.

In Mississippi, Administrator Wheeler Announces Multi-Million-Dollar Initiative Dedicated to Sustainable Pest Control in Agriculture

This original announcement was published by the EPA on January 11, 2021. Click here for more information. 

 

Today, at an event with the Mississippi Farm Bureau, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced a $2 million dollar initiative that encourages smart, sensible, and sustainable pest control in agriculture. Administrator Wheeler was also joined by U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality Director Chris Wells, Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Andy Gipson, Mississippi State Senator Charles Younger, Mississippi Farm Bureau President Mike McCormick, EPA Regional Administrator Mary Walker, and EPA Chief of Staff Mandy Gunasekara for the announcement. The initiative, which is an extension of EPA’s Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP), expects to award grantees up to $200,000 to implement sustainable pest management practices that align with the agency’s goal of providing a healthier environment for all Americans.

“With the extension of this multi-million-dollar initiative, the Trump Administration is providing growers with the additional resources they need to cut down on the environmental risks of both pests and pesticides,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Together, EPA and the agricultural community are building on our already strong foundation of sustainable pest management practices.”

This fiscal year, EPA expects to award approximately $2 million total for agricultural projects that explore innovative practices, technologies, education, and non-regulatory solutions that promote the adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) strategies. Traditional pest control involves the routine application of pesticides. IPM, in contrast, combines biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools in a way that minimizes economic, health and environmental risks.

EPA expects to issue a Request for Applications in January 2021 and applicants will have 45 days to submit their applications. Funding will be available to:

  • States or state agencies, territories, city or township governments, and federally recognized tribes.
  • Public and private universities and colleges.
  • Other public or private nonprofit institutions and 501(c)(3) organizations (PESP membership is not an eligibility requirement to receive funding).

“We are pleased to be a part of this important announcement today with EPA. We look forward to working with EPA to further this important program here in Mississippi,” said Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation President Mike McCormick.

EPA’s PESP is guided by the principle that partnership programs complement the standards and decisions established by regulatory and registration actions. This partnership program has previously invested nearly $4 million annually to support more than 100 successful grants, awards, and collaborative efforts. These efforts have promoted IPM in agriculture, schools, integrated vegetation management on utility rights-of-ways, and shared information on tick management strategies and EPA region-specific projects on sustainable pest management practices.

Today, EPA partners with over 400 organizations through PESP and welcomes more organizations to share the commitment to environmental stewardship where we live, work, play, and farm.

For more information about PESP, visit: www.epa.gov/pesp

For more information about PESP grants, visit: https://www.epa.gov/pesp/pesticide-environmental-stewardship-program-grants

To learn more about IPM, visit: www.epa.gov/ipm.

Background:

EPA’s PESP traces its roots to the 1993 Pesticide Use/Risk Reduction Initiative, a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and EPA to reduce the use of pesticides that pose unreasonable risks to humans and the environment. Over the past 27 years, the program has promoted IPM and provided information exchange from growers to EPA to inform certain pesticide regulatory decisions. While PESP grant funding ceased in 2010, the program has continued to carry on this important work in other ways. With today’s announcement, the agency is undertaking new efforts to provide grants focused on agriculture-centered IPM.

EPA Proposes to Codify Certain Pesticide Product Performance Requirements

This original announcement was published by the EPA on January 8, 2021. Click here for more information.

 

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to codify product performance data requirements for products claiming efficacy against certain pests to increase the efficiency of the agency’s approval process and save registrants time and money.

Product performance standards make it easier for pesticide registrants to know the efficacy data that must be submitted to the Agency to prove their pesticide product works as claimed. Through the agency’s proposed rule, EPA satisfies a requirement of the 2018 Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act (PRIA 4). This action also officially incorporates the agency’s product performance standards requirements for certain invertebrate pests into the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

By adding these requirements into the CFR, EPA will help ensure submitted data meets the agency’s needs and scientific standards. If finalized, the proposed rule could save registrants approximately $17,000 per data package submitted to the Agency by reducing waste and unnecessary testing

Today’s proposal applies to three categories of invertebrate pests:

  • Those identified to be of significant public health importance (e.g., ticks, mosquitoes, cockroaches, etc.)
  • Wood-destroying insects (e.g., termites)
  • Certain invasive invertebrate species (e.g., Asian long-horned beetle)

Comments on the proposed rule are accepted in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2020-0124 at www.regulations.gov for 60 days.