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EPA Finalizes Methodologies to Improve Drinking Water Assessments for Conventional Pesticides

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

After a thorough review of the best available science and carefully considering scientific peer review and public comments, EPA has released the final version of three new methodologies to improve drinking water assessments for conventional pesticides. Collectively, these new methods use advanced modeling approaches to incorporate the best available surface water modeling, spatial and historical data on pesticide use. These methods are designed to improve the accuracy, consistency and transparency of pesticide drinking water modeling.

Specifically, the new methods:

  • Build new scenarios (a combination of crop, soil type, and weather data) for use in EPA’s Pesticide in Water Calculator, the standard water exposure model for both drinking water and aquatic wildlife;
  • Better account for variability in the agricultural area within a watershed that may contribute to a drinking water intake (Percent Cropped Area (PCA)) and incorporate data on the amount of a pesticide applied within a watershed for each use (Percent Crop Treated (PCT));
  • Outline methods to confidently use surface water monitoring data;
  • Derive and integrate pesticide-specific sampling bias factors to address temporal challenges with available monitoring data; and,
  • Use a weight-of-evidence approach to evaluate the relevance of monitoring sites to drinking water watersheds to address spatial limitations with available monitoring data.

Approaches for the Quantitative Use of Surface Water Monitoring Data in Drinking Water Assessments were presented to the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel in Fall 2019 and the other two methods underwent contract peer review and public comment this past winter. EPA plans to incorporate these new methods into future drinking water assessments when appropriate.

In addition to finalizing these methods to improve drinking water assessments, EPA is also releasing a Framework for Conducting Pesticide Drinking Water Assessments for Surface Water, which describes EPA’s robust, tiered process designed to efficiently screen out pesticides that do not pose a potential risk to human health from those requiring more highly refined analyses to better understand potential risks.

Read about the new methodologies on our webpage.

EPA to Improve the Endangered Species Act Consultation Process for Pesticides

This original announcement was published by the EPA on June 27, 2020. Click here for more!

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in collaboration with federal partners, met a congressional commitment by submitting its second report to Congress highlighting the progress achieved to date with creating a more efficient and effective review process regarding pesticide impacts under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Highlights of the report include:

  • How a new method announced in March 2020 for conducting biological evaluations under the ESA will assure that pesticide registration review actions under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) do not jeopardize endangered species. The updated method ensures that—when available—the agency will use high-quality historical data that reflects where and how certain pesticides are used;
  • How incorporating recent revisions to regulations associated with the ESA consultation process helps with efficiency across agencies; and,
  • What the agencies are doing to improve communications and outreach, and how they are actively soliciting stakeholder feedback and engagement during the consultation process.

The ESA is a proven and critical tool for ensuring the recovery and protection of the nation’s most vulnerable species and habitats. However, for decades EPA’s approach for assessing pesticides risks to endangered species resulted in costly, time-consuming litigation and delays in pesticide registration decision-making.

As directed by Congress through the 2018 Farm Bill, EPA, the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality established an interagency working group (IWG) in 2018 tasked with providing recommendations and implementing a strategy to improve the Endangered Species Act of 1973 consultation process for pesticides.

The first report from the IWG was submitted to Congress on December 2019 and identified several proposals to improve the ESA consultation process for pesticide registration and registration review, plans for implementation of those proposals, and areas of consensus and continuing topics of debate.

EPA Holds Online Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee Meeting in May

This original announcement was published by the EPA on May 5, 2020. Click here for more information.

EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) will hold an online public meeting of the Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee (PPDC) on May 20-21, 2020.

To provide comments during the meeting, please pre-register here by May 15. Participants can register at any time if they do not wish to provide comments during the meeting.

OPP will provide an overview of actions it has performed to register and inform the public about products available for use against COVID-19. It will also seek recommendations from the PPDC about how EPA can continue to improve responses to public health emergencies.

OPP will also provide updates on various initiatives and gather insight from committee members on how to approach emerging agricultural technologies. The PPDC will discuss what workgroups they want to undertake.

Please visit the PPDC website to see the agenda, instructions for registration, and the Federal Register notice.

For questions about the PPDC, please contact Shannon Jewell at jewell.shannon@epa.gov or 703-347-0109. To request special accommodations, please contact Ms. Jewell by May 15, 2020.

Learn more about the Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee

FIFRA SAP Meeting Minutes and Final Report for Pesticide Drinking Water Assessments

This original announcement was published by the EPA on February 26, 2020 and can be accessed here.

The meeting minutes and final report for the November 19 to 21, 2019, Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) face-to-face meeting regarding “Approaches for Quantitative Use of Surface Water Monitoring Data in Pesticide Drinking Water Assessments,” is now available.

The meeting minutes and final report is available in the docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2019-0417 at www.regulations.gov. A link to the document is also posted on the FIFRA SAP meeting webpage at www.epa.gov/sap/meeting-information-november-19-22-2019-scientific-advisory-panel.

EPA is in the process of reviewing the report and then will determine next steps.

The FIFRA SAP serves as a primary scientific peer review mechanism of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and is structured to provide independent scientific advice and recommendations to EPA on health and safety issues related to pesticides.

Click here for more information today!

EPA Releases Draft Policy to Reduce Pesticide Testing on Birds

This original announcement was published by the EPA on September 17th, 2019.

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft science policy intended to reduce testing of pesticides on birds when registering conventional outdoor pesticides. The draft policy is open for public comment. This draft policy is in line with  EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s recent commitment to reduce animal testing at EPA.

“Today, EPA is issuing a new proposal to reduce pesticide testing on birds,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This is EPA’s first action after my recent directive to aggressively reduce animal testing throughout the Agency.”

The draft policy represents another step toward the agency’s commitment to reduce animal testing while also ensuring that the agency receives enough information to support pesticide registration decisions that are protective of public health and the environment.

Waiving requirements for toxicity studies when they offer little additional scientific information or public health protection is an important component of the draft policy, which emphasizes avoiding unnecessary resource use, data generation costs, and animal testing.

The foundation of this policy is EPA’s collaboration with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). EPA and PETA are working on a retrospective analysis of avian acute oral and subacute dietary studies. This analysis will address whether EPA can confidently assess acute risk for birds using only the single oral dose protocol.

The draft policy can be found at: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2019-09/documents/draft-waiver-guidance-avian-sub-acute-dietary.pdf.

EPA is accepting public comment until Nov. 1, 2019. Please email comments to OPPeco@epa.gov.

USDA surveying fruit growers about chemical use

The original article was published by Fruit Growers News on September 12, 2019 and can be accessed here

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Olympia, Washington office said in a Sept. 9 press release it would soon begin surveying fruit growers in 12 states for its biennial Fruit Chemical Use Survey.

This survey will collect information on fertilizer and pesticide applications, and pest management practices for bearing fruit acres, according to the press release. Acres treated and application rates will be collected for more than 20 fruit crops in the 12 program states.

“Growers benefit from providing this information because it is used to re-register products for their use, to illustrate the industry’s environmental practices, and to assure the quality of U.S. food to consumers here and around the world,” Northwest Regional Director Christopher Mertz said in the release.

The surveyed states are California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Washington.

The Fruit Chemical Use Survey will provide much-needed information about the current crop production practices used in the United States, according to the press release. The results of this survey will paint a detailed picture of pesticide use and other pest management practices used by the fruit growers across the nation.

NASS said to conduct the survey, its representatives will contact selected Oregon and Washington growers to arrange in-person interviews. The results of this survey will be available in aggregate form only, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified, as required by federal law.

“The Northwest Horticultural Council (NHC) strongly encourages tree fruit growers in the Pacific Northwest to participate in the upcoming NASS Chemical Use Survey,” Mark Powers, president of the NHC.

Survey results will be published in NASS’s online database, “Quick Stats,” in July 2020, NASS said. The database and all NASS reports are available on the agency’s web site: www.nass.usda.gov. For more information on NASS surveys and reports, call the NASS Northwest Regional Field Office at 1-800-435-5883.

USDA NASS survey
Source: USDA NASS

EPA Receives Request for Experimental Permit to Combat Mosquitoes

This original announcement was published by the EPA on September 11, 2019. View the proposal description here


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has received an application for an experimental use permit that would allow Oxitec to study the use of genetically engineered mosquitoes to reduce mosquito populations. EPA is sharing a description of the application with the public for a 30-day comment period, closing Oct. 11, 2019.

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can spread several diseases of significant human health concern, including the Zika virus and dengue fever. Oxitec’s proposal is to conduct additional research on reducing these mosquito populations and to gather information that could support a subsequent application for broader use in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that “preventing bites from insects and ticks is vital to stopping the spread of vector-borne diseases, and more prevention methods are needed.”

Oxitec is proposing to release genetically engineered male mosquitoes into the environment to mate with wild female mosquitoes. Male mosquitoes do not bite people. These males are modified in such a way that causes their female offspring to die as larvae. Male offspring would survive to become fully functional adults with the same modifications, which can provide multi-generational effectiveness so that ultimately Aedes aegypti mosquito populations in the release areas decline.

Oxitec’s proposed experimental program is designed to take place over 24 months on up to 6,600 acres in Harris County, Texas, and Monroe County, Florida.

After review of the application and public comments, EPA will decide whether to issue or deny the permit and, if issued, the conditions under which the study is to be conducted.

Public comments about this proposed permit should be submitted to EPA-HQ-OPP-2019-0274 on or before Oct. 11, 2019.

View the proposal description.

EPA Seeks Comment on Process for Evaluating Pesticide Synergy for Ecological Risk Assessments

This original announcement was published by the EPA on September 9, 2019.


EPA has developed an interim process to review synergy data for mixtures of pesticide active ingredients and potentially incorporate that information into our ecological risk estimates. The interim process will be available for public comment on or before October 24, 2019 on www.regulations.govin docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0433.

EPA generally evaluates pesticide ecological risks based on toxicity information from studies conducted with single active ingredients. This is based on best available evidence on pesticide interactions and the expectation that those interactions are rare. More recently, patent claims of synergy against target pests have raised questions and concerns about the adequacy of estimating risk of each individual active ingredient alone, especially for products mixed prior to application or products containing multiple active ingredients. Synergy occurs when the combined effect of two or more active ingredients are greater than the sum of the effects the chemicals would have individually. EPA hopes this process will close the gap between patent claims and our ecological risk assessments.

The specific feedback EPA is looking for is included in section IV of the Federal Register notice. Based on feedback and our analysis of the results of this process, EPA will determine whether synergy data supporting patents is useful for our ecological risk assessments and whether we should modify the interim process.

EPA to Hold Environmental Modeling Public Meeting in October

This original announcement was published by the EPA on September 4, 2019. Click here for more information.  

On Oct. 16, 2019, EPA will hold its semi-annual Environmental Modeling Public Meeting. This is a public forum for pesticide registrants, other stakeholders, and EPA to discuss current issues related to modeling pesticide fate, transport and exposure for risk assessments in a regulatory context.

The meeting will focus on:

  • Sources of usage data (relating to the actual application of pesticides, in terms of the quantity applied or units treated);
  • Spatial applications of usage data;
  • Model parameterization;
  • Extrapolation of usage data to fill in gaps;
  • Temporal variability of usage; and
  • Updates on ongoing topics.

There will also be presentations on incorporating pesticide usage data into environmental exposure and ecological risk assessments.

Registration is required. Requests to participate in the meeting must be received on or before Sept. 23, 2019. Please contact Rebecca Lazarus or Zoe Ruge at OPP_EMPM@epa.gov to register.

More information can be found at www.regulations.gov in docket # EPA_FRDOC_0001-24430Sign up for updates and abstract requests for future Environmental Modeling Public Meetings.

USDA Announces Pesticide Regulatory Training Funding Opportunity

This original announcement was published by the EPA on July 25, 2019.

On July 9, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) opened a Notice of Funding Opportunity to develop a series of web-based training modules. This training will help foreign pesticide regulators better understand EPA’s pesticide regulatory approach.

Both USDA FAS and EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs respond to many requests from foreign governments on pesticide regulatory issues. As such, USDA and EPA seek a partner to plan and develop web-based learning tools on topics to be identified in consultation with USDA and EPA. These topics are expected to include pesticide risk assessments, the U.S. pesticide registration process, data requirements, and the establishment of maximum residue levels (tolerances).

USDA’s announcement is posted on its grants web portal, which requires registration and logging in to see this and other funding opportunities. Applications for this funding opportunity must be submitted as described in the Notice of Funding Opportunity by Aug. 6, 2019. The award, which USDA anticipates will be announced in late August, will be up to $1 million over 24 months.

 

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