California EPA Seeking to Review Chlorpyrifos

The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) recently announced both the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment are pursuing health protections for chlorpyrifos.

Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide, acaricide, and miticide used primarily to control foliage and soil-borne insect pests on a variety of crops.

According to a statement from Western Growers, “chlorpyrifos is a critical part of pest management programs for farmers. It is used on more than 800,000 acres and more than 60 crops including tree nuts, vegetables, grapes, citrus, cotton, and alfalfa. Collectively, these crops account for $23 billion in production value for California. Western Growers will continue to advocate that any new control measures allow for the safe and continued use of this critical crop protection tool.”

The Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released an updated draft risk assessment for public comment. This action marks the start of a public and scientific review of the document, which could lead to increased restrictions on chlorpyrifos statewide. DPR is currently developing interim restrictions on use of the pesticide and recommendations will be made to county agricultural commissioners in September.

In addition, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is referring chlorpyrifos for potential listing as a developmental toxicant under Proposition 65. OEHHA posted an announcement that the state’s Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee will consider the listing of chlorpyrifos at its next public meeting.

“While chlorpyrifos has been protecting crops for more than 50 years, new information in the scientific community leads us to believe the level of risk it poses is greater than previously known,” said CalEPA Secretary Matthew Rodriquez. “We need to better understand the science to ensure our actions protect public health. The actions we are taking today reflect our commitment to the health and safety of all Californians, and the environment.”

Department of Pesticide Regulation
DPR scientists believe chlorpyrifos may pose a public health risk as a toxic air contaminant based on its assessment of the latest studies in the scientific community. However, this new finding, indicated in the updated draft risk assessment, has not been peer reviewed and must go through a public comment period and be independently evaluated by other scientists.

 

On Sept. 15, DPR will hold a public workshop on the updated draft risk assessment at the Pesticide Registration and Evaluation Committee meeting in Sacramento, CA.

After the 45-day written public comment period, which is currently open, DPR’s updated draft risk assessment will go before an independent panel of nine scientists known as the Scientific Review Panel (SRP). The thorough review process, which may ultimately lead to more restrictions on use, may conclude in December 2018.

Next month, DPR will provide county agricultural commissioners with specific interim recommendations, including:

  • Increasing distances between sites where the chemical is applied and sensitive locations, such as homes and schools. These would be specific to each type of application method.
  • New restrictions on methods used to apply chlorpyrifos.

Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
OEHHA will soon open a written public comment period on scientific materials that describe the evidence for the developmental toxicity of chlorpyrifos.  OEHHA will provide the materials and the written public comments to the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee. The committee is an independent panel of 10 scientific experts that determines whether chemicals are added to the Proposition 65 list as causing birth defects and other reproductive harm. The committee will also consider public comments presented at its Nov. 29 meeting.

If the committee adds chlorpyrifos to the Proposition 65 list as a developmental toxicant, businesses that knowingly cause exposures above minimum levels must provide a Proposition 65 warning.

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