EPA Announces New Soil Fumigant Rules

EPA is strengthening safety measures for soil fumigant pesticides. The safety measures will reduce fumigant exposures to bystanders — people who live, work, attend school, or spend time near agricultural fields that are fumigated — and increase overall safety of fumigant use by requiring greater planning and compliance.


“With new restrictions, we’re allowing the continued use of fumigant pesticides without risking human health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Full transparency and the best science shaped a plan to protect the economic interests of agricultural communities and the public health of farm workers and consumers.”

EPA took extensive public comments on the safety measures, announced initially in July 2008, to refine the measures as needed and develop an implementation strategy. This included many public meetings and visits with state agencies and agricultural, farm worker, and public health constituents. Adjustments to the 2008 proposal have been made based upon new scientific data and improved information on certain technological capabilities.

“It appears that the modifications address many of our greatest concerns to some extent,” said Ted Campbell, executive director of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. “The original re-registration eligibility decisions were set at such an extreme level that any concessions would provide critical relief from an impossible burden on growers. The agency has obviously considered our appeals and applied recently intensified scientific studies to moderate the original proposal. We welcome this relief and will continue to contribute valid data to ensure both grower needs and public safety concerns are adequately sustained going forward.”  

EPA will continue to work with state agencies, growers, farm workers, and public health officials to achieve the new protections while minimizing costs and burdens on growers. The measures will be implemented starting in the 2010 and 2011 growing seasons.

Fumigants are used on a wide range of crops, primarily potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, carrots, and peppers. The soil fumigants methyl bromide, chloropicrin, dazomet, metam sodium, metam potassium, and iodomethane are all subject to the new requirements.