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EPA Releases Temporary Guidance Regarding Certification of Pesticide Applicators During COVID-19

This announcement was published by the EPA on July 28, 2020. Click here for more!

EPA has released a temporary guidance regarding the certification of pesticide applicators of restricted use pesticides that offers flexibility during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The Agency is aware that state, tribal and federal certifying authorities may need to make temporary changes to their existing pesticide applicator certification programs during this time. Given the evolving circumstances and the urgency involved, EPA has determined that certain temporary changes to their programs should be preapproved and may be implemented provided that they are not likely to significantly diminish applicator competence or undermine future certification activities and all conditions are met.

Currently, certifying authorities can make non-substantial changes to their certification plans without prior EPA approval, but need to notify EPA within 90 days or with the required annual report, whichever occurs first.

So long as such temporary changes are reported to EPA as outlined in the guidance, EPA does not intend to impose sanctions on certification programs that miss reporting deadlines specified in the CPA rule. EPA will instead accept notifications included in the annual reporting, which are due December 31, 2020.

EPA is temporarily pre-approving substantial modifications if the modifications meet all the following conditions:

  • Time-limited to no later than Dec. 31, 2021, and revocable within 90 days or less by the certifying authority if EPA determines that the modification is no longer appropriate;
  • Consistent with pesticide labeling;
  • Consistent with EPA’s Certification of Pesticide Applicators regulation;
  • Will not significantly diminish applicator competency; and,
  • Will not undermine future certification activities.

To read the temporary guidance in full, visit our webpage.

Additional Information

Certifying authorities must still obtain EPA’s advance approval of substantial modifications of their certification plans that do not meet all the above conditions. State and tribal certifying authorities should contact their EPA regional office for more information or to request approvals for substantial modifications to be made in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

This temporary guidance also includes a modification to the recertification period for certificates issued to certified applicators that apply restricted use pesticides in Indian country under EPA’s Plan for the Federal Certification of Applicators of Restricted Use Pesticides within Indian country. Certified applicators holding an EPA-issued certificate based on a currently valid underlying certificate from another jurisdiction (e.g., state-issued) are granted an extension that aligns with the expiration date of the underlying certificate.

This guidance is temporary, and EPA will assess the continued need and scope of this temporary guidance on an ongoing basis. EPA will provide notice here under “Certifying Pesticide Applicators” at least seven days prior to terminating this guidance.

EPA Provides Consumers Additional Options for COVID-19 Disinfectants

This original announcement was published by the EPA on July 23, 2020. Click here for more!

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added 32 new surface disinfectants to List N, the agency’s list of products expected to kill SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

“Since day one, EPA’s priority has been to provide the public with easy access to the information they need to protect themselves and their families from the virus that causes COVID-19,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Through our efforts to expand List N, we are ensuring that Americans have a broad set of approved products to clean and disinfect surfaces to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.”

Disinfectants can qualify for inclusion on List N three ways:

  1. The product has been tested against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).
  2. The product has demonstrated efficacy against a different coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).
  3. The product has demonstrated efficacy against a pathogen that is harder to kill than SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).

EPA has added 32 new products to List-N. These products have already been approved as tuberculocidal. While they have not yet been tested against SARS-CoV-2, they are approved for killing the pathogen that causes tuberculosis and are expected to kill SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) when used according to the label (category three noted above).

Many tuberculocidal products are potent disinfectants and have a long history of use for cleaning hospitals and other health care settings. When using such products, it is critical to follow the label directions, including the precautionary statements.

Disinfectant products may be marketed and sold under multiple different brand and product names. Therefore, List N users should use the first two sections of a product’s registration number when searching List N, rather than its brand name. For example, if EPA Reg. No. 12345-12 is on List N, you can buy EPA Reg. No. 12345-12-2567 and know you’re getting an equivalent product. For more information on using an EPA registration number to search List N, see our FAQ at https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/frequent-questions-about-disinfectants-and-coronavirus-covid-19.

Throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, EPA has provided the American public with information on disinfecting surfaces against SARS-CoV-2. For more information about EPA’s response to COVID-19 visit: https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus

EPA takes action to help Americans disinfect indoor spaces efficiently and effectively

This original announcement was published by the EPA on July 7, 2020. Click here for more! 

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking action to ensure that Americans are able to disinfect public spaces effectively and efficiently to control SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The newly released guidance outlines what information registrants need to submit in order to expedite the review of requests to add electrostatic sprayer application directions to disinfectant product labels for use against SARS-CoV-2.

“Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces continues to be an effective way to reduce the spread of the virus,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “With this guidance, EPA is ensuring offices, schools, and local governments have access to as many effective and approved surface disinfectant products as possible—including those designed to disinfect large indoor spaces.”

Electrostatic spraying has drawn increased interest through the public health emergency because of the need to disinfect large indoor spaces (e.g., schools, offices, businesses) or areas with many surfaces. Unlike conventional spraying methods, electrostatic sprayers apply a positive charge to liquid disinfectants as they pass through the nozzle. The positively charged disinfectant is attracted to negatively charged surfaces, which allows for efficient coating of hard nonporous surfaces.

EPA’s new guidance covers requests to add electrostatic spraying directions to both new and currently registered disinfectant products—including those on EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2—that require review under Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA). Today’s guidance builds on EPA’s previously announced expedited review of certain submissions for products intended for use against SARS-CoV-2.

When using these products, always follow the directions and safety information on the label. A disinfectant product’s safety and effectiveness may change based on how it is used. If a product’s label does not include disinfection directions for electrostatic spraying, EPA has not reviewed any data on whether the product is safe and effective when used by this method.

EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released updated guidance to help facility operators and families properly clean and disinfect spaces. The guidance provides step-by-step instructions for public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools, and homes. EPA has compiled a list of disinfectant products, including ready-to-use sprays, concentrates, and wipes, that can be used against COVID-19.

For information on EPA’s efforts to help address the novel coronavirus, visit: https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus.

EPA approves first surface disinfectant products tested on the SARS-CoV-2 virus

This original announcement was published by the EPA on July 7, 2020. Click here for more!

 

Throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has worked to provide the American public with information about how to safely and effectively kill the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, on surfaces. Last week, EPA approved two products, Lysol Disinfectant Spray (EPA Reg No. 777-99) and Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist (EPA Reg No. 777-127), based on laboratory testing that shows the products are effective against SARS-CoV-2.

“EPA is committed to identifying new tools and providing accurate and up-to-date information to help the American public protect themselves and their families from the novel coronavirus,”said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “EPA’s review of products tested against this virus marks an important milestone in President Trump’s all of government approach to fighting the spread of COVID-19.”

Before pesticide products can legally make claims that they can kill a particular pathogen such as SARS-CoV-2, the claim must be authorized by EPA based on a review of data. Because novel viruses are typically not immediately available for laboratory testing, EPA established guidance for Emerging Viral Pathogens.

In January 2020, the agency activated the guidance for the first time in response to the SARS-CoV-2 public health emergency. The guidance allows product manufacturers to provide EPA with data, even in advance of an outbreak, that shows their products are effective against harder-to-kill viruses than SARS-CoV-2. Through this guidance and the agency’s review of newly registered products, EPA’s list of products that meet the agency’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2 (known as List N) includes more than 420 products. In many cases, the agency was able to approve claims in as little as 14 days.

This week, EPA updated the entries for two products on List N to show they have now been tested directly against SARS-CoV-2. These are the first List N products for which the agency has reviewed laboratory testing data and approved label claims against SARS-CoV-2. EPA expects to approve such claims for additional List N products in the coming weeks.

All products on EPA’s List N meet the agency’s criteria for effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2. When using an EPA-registered disinfectant, follow the label directions for safe, effective use. Make sure to follow the contact time, which is the amount of time the surface should be visibly wet. Read the agency’s infographic on how to use these products.

Additional information on EPA’s coronavirus efforts: https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus

EPA Providing Excess PPE for Fighting COVID

This original announcement was published by the EPA on June 13, 2020. Click here for more

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to transfer an additional 22,000 pieces of excess personal protective equipment (PPE) to emergency and health professionals on the COVID-19 frontlines. The Agency maintains a supply of PPE for mission-critical work such as the laboratory work conducted at EPA’s Environmental Science Center at Fort Meade, Md., as well as responding to emergencies, including chemical, oil, radiological and biological incidents.

“Having sufficient personal protective equipment is crucial for the emergency services personnel and health professionals on the frontlines of combatting COVID-19,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “EPA is making excess PPE available to these responders, and we also stand ready to perform missions we may be called upon to fulfill in this ongoing fight.”

“EPA is committed to ensuring any excess equipment we have on hand be made available to first responders combatting the coronavirus.” said EPA mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “We are actively working with FEMA officials to provide what limited quantities of equipment we have to those who need it most.”

“EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention is proud to donate 8,800 pieces of PPE to help protect those who are tirelessly working on the front lines to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Alexandra Dapolito Dunn. “Whether it is donating PPE, practicing social distancing, or using an EPA-approved disinfectant that is effective against the novel coronavirus, we all have a part to play in this public health emergency.”

EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Office partnered with EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention’s Microbiology and Analytical Chemistry Laboratories to identify excess personal protective equipment after assessing how much equipment would be needed to support EPA’s essential functions. Among the items are protective disposable gloves, eye protection, lab coats and full-body protective coverall suits. EPA will donate excess equipment while still maintaining its emergency response readiness.

About EPA’s Microbiology Laboratory:

The Microbiology Laboratory, located at Fort Meade, Md., is an integral part of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. The laboratory is responsible for the standardization of existing test methods and the development and validation of methods for new uses and emerging pathogens for antimicrobial products with public health claims—products used to kill or suppress the growth of pathogenic microorganisms on inanimate objects and surfaces.

About EPA’s Analytical Chemistry Laboratory:

The Analytical Chemistry Laboratory, located at Fort Meade, Md., also provides EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention with scientific, laboratory, and technical support through chemical analyses of imported products and other materials for pesticides and related chemicals.

To view EPA’s list of disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, visit https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2 .

For information about EPA’s involvement with the COVID-19 response, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus.

EPA Releases Temporary Guidance on Respiratory Protection During COVID-19

This original announcement was published by the EPA on June 1, 2020. Click here for more

There is no higher priority for EPA than protecting the health and safety of Americans, especially during the COVID-19 public health emergency. EPA has heard from states and stakeholders about Personal Protective Equipment shortages in the agricultural sector. To respond to these reports and to help ensure the health and safety of America’s farmers, EPA is providing temporary guidance regarding respiratory protection requirements for agricultural pesticide handlers. Our guidance aligns with recent OSHA memos on respirators while addressing EPA’s responsibilities under FIFRA and the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS).

Additional Information

The temporary guidance outlines approaches to address the unavailability of required respiratory protection and respiratory fit testing that should first be exhausted before considering any alternative options. Options include:

  • Use alternative NIOSH-approved respirators offering equivalent or greater respiratory protection than those required on the pesticide label;
  • Hire commercial applicator services with enough respirators and respiratory protection capabilities;
  • Opt to use agricultural pesticide products that do not require respirators; or
  • Delay pesticide applications until another compliant option is available.

If the above options are exhausted, EPA’s guidance provides additional options with strict terms, conditions, and exhaustion requirements to minimize potential incremental risks to workers:

  • Reuse and extended use of disposable N95 filter facepiece respirator;
  • Use of “expired” respirators;
  • Use of respirators certified in certain other countries or jurisdictions meeting protective conditions outlined; or
  • Delay the annual respirator “fit test.”

This is a temporary policy. EPA will assess the continued need for and scope of this temporary guidance on a regular basis. To read the guidance in full and to learn more about EPA’s Worker Protection Standard, visit this webpage.

EPA Addresses Supply Chain Issues for Food-Contact Surface Sanitizer Products

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

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its third temporary modification to Pesticide Registration Notice 98-10 to include food-contact surface sanitizer products containing the active ingredient isopropyl alcohol.

This new time-limited amendment to PRN 98-10 extends some of the supply chain flexibilities in the April modification to products used in the food manufacture and preparation industries. Specifically, this temporary amendment expands these flexibilities to manufacturers of food-contact surface sanitizer products containing isopropyl alcohol. Additionally, isopropyl alcohol has been added to the list of active ingredients considered to be commodity chemicals by the temporary amendment.

These isopropyl alcohol sanitizer products are not to be applied directly to food. Instead, they are used to sanitize equipment and surfaces used in food manufacturing and food preparation.

EPA intends for these flexibilities to increase the availability of products for use against the novel coronavirus. In addition, EPA is responding to feedback from the food manufacture and preparation industries that they are experiencing challenges acquiring sanitizers used in production facilities processing low-moisture products like cereal, flour, and industrial baked goods.

Click here for more information. 

EPA Makes it Easier for Consumers to Find Disinfectant Products for Novel Coronavirus

This original announcement was published by the EPA on May 12, 2020. Click here for more information. 

WASHINGTON (May 12, 2020) —  Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its List N Tool, a new web-based application (app)  that allows smart phone users and others to quickly identify disinfectant products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The agency also announced new actions to ensure that new disinfectant products that are safe and effective to use against SARS-CoV-2 can be added to EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 as quickly as possible.

“In support of President Trump’s plan to reopen America, EPA is working to ensure that all Americans can easily access the best information on surface disinfectants as we work together to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This new app will help put important information in the hands of businesses, governments, and American consumers when they are making decisions about how best to clean and disinfect buildings.”

For more than two months, EPA has provided the public with List N, a list of more than 400 surface disinfectant products that meet the agency’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2. This week, the agency transformed the data from the List N webpage into a browser-based web app that allows users to rapidly identify the disinfectant products best suited for their needs. Users can search by use site (e.g., home, business, health care, etc.), surface type (e.g., hard, non-porous surfaces like countertops; porous surfaces like fabrics), contact time (i.e., the time the product needs to be visibly wet), EPA registration number, active ingredient, or product name.

EPA is also continuing its efforts to ensure that List N is updated as quickly as possible with new disinfectant products that are safe and effective to use against SARS-CoV-2. Building on the agency’s previously announced expedited review for EPA-registered disinfectants that do not require review of new efficacy data, today, the agency announced an expedited review process for other products that would like to qualify for EPA’s List N. These other products include currently registered products that require a data review and applications for new disinfectant products.

EPA’s Expedited Review of Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA) Submissions for Products Eligible for Inclusion on List N: Submission Information for Registrants also contains important information to submitters on how to submit a product for expedited review. This does not replace the review process of all other submitted antimicrobial products.

EPA may also consider expedited review of new active ingredients or new uses for currently registered active ingredients (including higher application rates, new application methods such as fogging and electrostatic sprayers, or use sites such as porous surfaces).

When using an EPA-registered disinfectant, follow the label directions for safe, effective use. Make sure to follow the contact time, which is the amount of time the surface should be visibly wet. Read our infographic on how to use these products.

EPA Continues to Add New Surface Disinfectant Products to Combat COVID-19

This original announcement was published by the EPA on April 3, 2020 and can be accessed here

 

WASHINGTON (April 2, 2020) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is continuing its commitment to increasing the availability of surface disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. List N: Disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2 (List N) now contains over 360 products and has enhanced functionality to allow users to sort these products by surface type and use site. EPA is also continuing to expedite the review process for new disinfectants.

Previously, all products on List N had to have either an EPA emerging viral pathogen claim or have demonstrated efficacy against another human coronavirus. Now, List N also includes products on EPA’s List G: Products effective against norovirus and List L: Products effecting against the Ebola virus as these products also meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2 .

In addition, EPA has updated List N to include the types of surfaces products can be used on (e.g., hard or soft) and use sites (e.g., hospital, institutional or residential). Products that can be applied via fogging are now noted in the formulation column. This additional information will empower the public to choose products that are appropriate for their specific circumstances.

To help the public better understand List N: Disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2 , EPA has updated the content on List N and the Frequently Asked Questions about disinfectants related to coronavirus. The FAQ update provides new information on pesticide safety, enforcement, and pesticide devices. It also includes enhanced explanations of why List N products are qualified for use against SARS-CoV-2 and how these products can be used most effectively.

EPA has continued to adapt its processes to ensure the supply of disinfectants keeps pace with demand. EPA recently announced additional flexibility that allows manufacturers of already-registered EPA disinfectants to obtain certain active and inactive (i.e., inert) ingredients from any source of suppliers without checking with the Agency first. Today, EPA added 48 additional chemicals to its list of commodity inert ingredients . This regulatory flexibility aims to help ease the production and availability of EPA-registered disinfectants.

EPA also is expediting all requests for company numbers and establishment numbers to enable new pesticide-producing establishments to come online as quickly as possible.

For more information on EPA’s efforts to address the novel coronavirus, visit: www.epa.gov/coronavirus.

Farms Could See Shortage of Protective Gear Amid Covid-19 Needs

This original article was published by Bloomberg Law on March 26, 2020 and can be accessed here.

Farmworkers are bracing for potential shortages of protective equipment used to apply pesticides as supplies are diverted to emergency health care needs in response to the coronavirus.

When applying chemicals to fields and orchards, pesticide applicators use much the same personal protective equipment (PPE) as health care workers: protective suits, gloves, and single-use N95 respirators.

While many farmers and spraying contractors report having enough supplies for the spring growing season, they worry that shortages today could cut availability of the gear later in the year.

Feeling the Pinch

Carl Atwell, president of Gempler’s, a Wisconsin-based supplier of agriculture and landscaping PPE, said orders for disposable respirators and masks placed today wouldn’t arrive until June. “And that’s just an estimate,” he said.

Atwell said he’s also seeing shortages of chemical-resistant gloves, Tyvek suits, goggles, and respirator masks for use on farms.

“All of our major suppliers is being impacted,” he said, “Whether it’s Dupont, 3M, Honeywell—they’re all being told by the government to divert supply to hospitals first.”

This week both Honeywell International Inc. and 3M Co. announced plans to ramp up production of N95 masks to meet the critical needs of health care workers and emergency responders. 3M said it doubled its global output of masks and respirators to a rate of nearly 100 million per month—more than 90% of which are designated for health care workers.

Reusing Gloves

For many North American farmers, the timing of the coronavirus pandemic came after they had purchased crop protection chemicals and gear for the spring season.

“Thankfully, we’re were already pretty well stocked in terms of PPE for our mixers and handlers,” said Jeff Bunting, crop protection division manager for Growmark, an Illinois-based company that handles pesticide application contracts for farmers.

But the situation could be different in a few months if orders are still backed up as farmers try to restock for late-season spraying, or for next year, Bunting said.

Tanette Feddick of Feddick Distributors, a Minnesota-based wholesale agricultural supplier, said her business sold 800 cases of dust masks in a week. It usually takes six months to sell that many, she said.

“At this point, all we can do is take people’s name, and put them on a list,” she said.

Some pesticide contracting companies are taking steps to try to extend the life of the gear they have in case supplies remain low.

“We can wash and reuse nitrile gloves, and try to conserve dust masks as much as possible,” said Joe Sinclair, president of Quality Ag Service, a full-service farm retailer and pesticide contractor.

‘Already a Big Problem’

Pesticides classified as “restricted use” can only be applied by certified applicators, and each pesticide product label lists PPE requirements. That label is a legal document designed to ensure pesticides are safely applied and the user is adequately protected.

Without proper protective clothing farmworkers can experience skin irritation, respiratory problems, or organ damage, and pregnant workers could have complications, said Iris Figueroa, a staff attorney with Farmworker Justice, a Washington, D.C., based advocacy group.

“This issue of workers being exposed to toxic chemicals was already a big problem before the pandemic, so I can only image what will happen now,” said Figueroa.

Of highest concern “given the current situation” of a virus that attacks the lungs, is respiratory protection needed for people working with fumigant pesticides or volatile chemicals, such as anhydrous ammonia fertilizer, she said.

Testing Center Closures

Because of coronavirus, many state agriculture departments are shutting down in-person testing centers, which manage certification programs for pesticide applicators.

Some states are able to offer certification courses online. And executive orders in states including Louisiana, Nebraska, Tennessee, Iowa, and Illinois, have extended the expiration dates for pesticide applicator licenses into 2021.

However, Growmark’s Bunting says that won’t address the issue of certifying new employees to apply pesticides, if and when they’re needed.

“You know we don’t have a lot of applicators that are licensed to apply restricted-used products,” he said. “If they get sick and we lose those people, that could be big problem for a farmers, and companies like ours.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Adam Allington in Washington at aallington@bloombergenvironment.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bloombergenvironment.com; Rebecca Baker at rbaker@bloombergenvironment.com