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EPA Updates the Environmental Chemistry Methods Index for Monitoring Pesticide Residues

This announcement was published on October 29, 2021. Click here for more information.

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has updated the Environmental Chemistry Methods (ECM) Index, a list which currently includes 865 analytical methods for monitoring pesticide residues, primarily in soil or water. In the past year, 65 new analytical methods have been added to the ECM Index, including six methods for newly-registered pesticides. 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 intends to update the ECM Index quarterly and as new chemicals are registered.

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 Finalizes Improvements to Pesticide Application Exclusion Zone Requirements

This original announcement was published by the EPA on October 29, 2020. Click here for more information!

 

Today, at Overman Farms in Goldsboro, N.C., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler will announce that the agency has finalized important improvements to requirements for the pesticide application exclusion zone (AEZ)—the area surrounding pesticide application equipment that exists only during outdoor production pesticide applications. EPA’s targeted changes improve the enforceability and workability of the AEZ requirements, decrease regulatory burdens for farmers, and maintain critical worker protections. Today’s revisions are consistent with the 2018 Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA). The AEZ requirements are part of EPA’s agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) regulations.

“Since day one, the Trump Administration has been committed to protecting the health of all our citizens,” said EPA Administrator Wheeler. “The changes to the AEZ requirements make it easier to ensure people near our nation’s farms are protected, while simultaneously enhancing the workability of these provisions for farm owners and protecting the environment.”

This final action balances the input EPA received from a wide range of stakeholders during the proposed action’s 90-day comment period. EPA has clarified and simplified the AEZ requirements based in part on input from state pesticide regulatory agencies and agricultural stakeholders after the adoption of the 2015 WPS rule. Consistent with PRIA, EPA is only implementing changes related to the AEZ requirements in the WPS. These targeted changes include:

  • AEZ requirements only apply within the boundaries of the agricultural establishment, removing off-farm responsibilities that were difficult for state regulators to enforce.
  • Immediate family members of farm owners are now exempted from all aspects of the AEZ requirements. Farm owners and their immediate family are now able to shelter in place inside closed buildings, giving farm owners and immediate family members flexibility to decide whether to stay on-site during pesticide applications, rather than compelling them to leave even when they feel safe remaining.
  • New clarifying language has been added so that pesticide applications that are suspended due to individuals entering an AEZ may be resumed after those individuals have left the AEZ.
  • Simplified criteria to determine whether pesticide applications are subject to the 25- or 100-foot AEZ.

No changes were made to the “Do Not Contact” provision that prohibits a handler/applicator and the handler’s employer from applying a pesticide in such a way that it contacts workers or other persons directly or through drift.

To read the rule in full, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-worker-safety/worker-protection-standard-application-exclusion-zone

Background

The original WPS regulation was enacted in 1992 under EPA’s Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) authorities to protect farm workers from pesticide exposures in production agriculture. The WPS requires owners and employers on agricultural establishments and commercial pesticide-handling establishments to protect employees on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses from occupational exposure to agricultural pesticides.

In 2015, EPA finalized various significant revisions to the 1992 WPS. Among the 2015 revisions was a new provision requiring agricultural employers to keep workers and all other individuals out of an area called the “application exclusion zone” (AEZ) during outdoor pesticide applications. The AEZ is the area surrounding pesticide application equipment that exists only during outdoor production pesticide applications. The AEZ will be 25 feet in all directions for ground pesticide applications when sprayed from a height greater than 12 inches, and 100 feet in all directions for outdoor aerial, air blast, air-propelled, fumigant, smoke, mist and fog pesticide applications.

The initial intent of the AEZ was to supplement existing WPS provisions for farm workers to better protect them and other on-farm persons that could be contacted by pesticides. However, state regulators expressed concerns with enforcing the complex AEZ requirements and farm owners expressed concerns with applying and complying with pesticide regulations.

 

 

Aquatic Life Benchmarks for Registered Pesticides

This original announcement was published by the EPA on September 29, 2020. Click here for more!

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in collaboration with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the U.S. Geological Survey, released an updated aquatic life benchmarks table, which includes both new and updated aquatic life benchmark values.

Aquatic life benchmarks are estimates of the concentrations below which pesticides are not expected to present a risk of concern for freshwater organisms. State, tribal and local governments use these benchmarks in their interpretation of water monitoring data.

Comparing a measured concentration of a pesticide in water to an aquatic life benchmark can be helpful in interpreting monitoring data and in identifying and prioritizing monitoring sites that may require further investigation.

The updated aquatic life benchmarks represent newly registered pesticides or new values for previously registered pesticides and selected degradates, or new registrations. EPA’s goal is to add to these benchmarks on an annual basis; the last update was published September 30, 2019.

EPA based these benchmarks on toxicity values from scientific studies that the Agency reviewed and used in publicly accessible ecological risk assessments in support of regulatory decisions for pesticides. The table directly links the source documents for each of the benchmarks.

View the updated table on our webpage.

EPA Opens Comment Period on Pyridate Proposed Decision

This original announcement was published by the EPA on July 11, 2020. Click here for more!

 

EPA is taking comments on pyridate, a pesticide active ingredient that could help consumers with weed management and resistance.

EPA has opened a 30-day comment period on the Agency’s proposed decision to register one technical product and four end-use products for pyridate, an herbicide that controls various types of broadleaf weeds. Pyridate is proposed for use on weed control related to the growing of vegetables, including cabbage, chickpea (garbanzo bean), collards, field corn, mint and peanuts.

The proposed label for pyridate suggests it could be used on difficult-to-control and economically important weeds such as redroot pigweed and Palmer amaranth. Pyridate might also be important for over-the-top weed control in chickpeas and mint.

EPA has not identified any dietary, residential, aggregate or occupational risks of concern for human health. Based on the ecological assessment, the most notable finding involves larval bees. However, pyridate has a contact activity and is unlikely to move to pollen and nectar sources.  Additionally, none of the proposed crops involve sites where managed bees are used for pollination.

Pyridate was previously registered for use in the United States, but all registrations were cancelled in 2004 for administrative reasons. Tolerances for residues of pyridate were retained, and they will need no adjustments with this proposed registration.

The public comment period for this proposed decision will be open for 30 days, closing on August 10, 2020. Visit https://www.epa.gov/pesticides/open-comment-pesticide-actions-and-documents to read more and submit comments.

EPA Proposes Registration of Nootkatone, A New Active Ingredient in Insect Control

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

EPA is seeking public comment on the proposed registration of a new active ingredient called nootkatone, which was discovered and developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and can be used as an insect repellent. The agency’s proposal adds a new active ingredient that can be used to protect people from biting insects and ticks.

Nootkatone is a naturally occurring substance found in minute quantities in Alaskan yellow cedar trees and grapefruit skin. It is responsible for the characteristic smell and taste of grapefruit and is widely used in the fragrance industry to make perfumes and colognes. Nootkatone is considered a biopesticide, or a pesticide derived from nature.

EPA currently has no applications to register consumer products containing nootkatone. Companies interested in developing insect repellents or insecticides with it as the active ingredient will be required to submit a registration package to EPA for review. Based on registration timeframes under the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act, new products using nootkatone could be available as early as 2022.

To read more about the proposed registration of nootkatone, see docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2018-0122 in www.regulations.gov. The public comment period will be open for 15 days, closing on July 14, 2020.

EPA Releases Guidance on Pesticide Safety Training Requirements During COVID-19

This original announcement was published by the EPA on June 19, 2020. Click here for more.

We made a correction to a link in this email.

Agricultural workers and pesticide handlers directly support the nation’s agricultural production and food supply and EPA is committed to ensuring they are protected from workplace hazards.

EPA has released guidance regarding the annual pesticide safety training requirements outlined in the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) that offers flexibility during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The Agency is aware that COVID-19 may make it difficult for agricultural employers and handler employers to provide WPS pesticide safety training or hire agricultural workers and pesticide handlers who have been trained in the last 12 months, as required by the WPS.

In response, the guidance aims to inform agricultural employers and handler employers of flexibilities available under the WPS to allow continued protection for employees and agricultural production:

  • EPA encourages in-person training if workplace protections to maintain a healthy work environment are able to be implemented. For example, an employer may be able to provide pesticide safety training outside, in smaller than usual groups with well-spaced participants.
  • Alternatively, WPS training can be presented remotely, provided all WPS training requirements are met.
  • The employer is ultimately responsible for ensuring the training meets all requirements outlined in the WPS. For example, the training must still be presented in a manner the trainees can understand, in an environment reasonably free from distractions, and cover the full training content using EPA-approved training materials.
  • Once the training ends, the employer must document successful completion under a qualified trainer.

To read the guidance in full and to learn more about EPA’s Worker Protection Standard, visit our webpage.

EPA Takes Next Step in Review Process for Herbicide Glyphosate, Reaffirms No Risk to Public Health

This announcement was originally published by the EPA on April 30, 2019. You can access more information here

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking an important step in the agency’s review of glyphosate. As part of this action, EPA continues to find that there are no risks to public health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label and that glyphosate is not a carcinogen. The agency’s scientific findings on human health risk are consistent with the conclusions of science reviews by many other countries and other federal agencies. While the agency did not identify public health risks in the 2017 human health risk assessment, the 2017 ecological assessment did identify ecological risks. To address these risks, EPA is proposing management measures to help farmers target pesticide sprays on the intended pest, protect pollinators, and reduce the problem of weeds becoming resistant to glyphosate.

“EPA has found no risks to public health from the current registered uses of glyphosate,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Today’s proposed action includes new management measures that will help farmers use glyphosate in the most effective and efficient way possible, including pollinator protections. We look forward to input from farmers and other stakeholders to ensure that the draft management measures are workable, realistic, and effective.”

“If we are going to feed 10 billion people by 2050, we are going to need all the tools at our disposal, which includes the use the glyphosate,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “USDA applauds EPA’s proposed registration decision as it is science-based and consistent with the findings of other regulatory authorities that glyphosate does not pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.”

Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in U.S. agriculture and has been studied for decades.  Glyphosate is used on more than 100 food crops, including glyphosate-resistant corn, soybean, cotton, canola and sugar beet. Non-agricultural uses include residential areas, aquatic areas, forests, rights of way, ornamentals and turf.

Once the Federal Register notice publishes, the public will be able to submit comments on EPA’s proposed decision at www.regulations.gov in docket # EPA-HQ-OPP-2009-0361. Public comments will be due 60 days after the date of publication in Federal Register. EPA’s responses to the comments received on the draft ecological and human health risk assessments and the benefits assessment will be in the docket.

Find more information about glyphosate, including today’s proposed interim decision and supporting documents.

See the glyphosate draft risk assessments and supporting documents.

EPA reaffirms finding that glyphosate does not cause cancer

The original article was written by Donnelle Eller and published on April 30, 2019 by Des Moines Register. You can access the full article here

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday reaffirmed its finding that glyphosate, the world’s most popular herbicide, is not a cancer risk to users.

“There’s no evidence that glyphosate causes cancer,” said Alexandra Dunn, an EPA assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention. “There’s no risk to public health from the application of glyphosate.”

It’s the next step in the EPA’s process to re-register the herbicide, popular with farmers growing food and with families and businesses killing weeds.

The agency said its scientific findings on human health risk are consistent with the reviews by several other countries and federal agencies.

Click here to continue reading.