EPA Proposes To Ban Chlorpyrifos

EPA Proposes To Ban Chlorpyrifos

EPA is seeking comments on a recently released proposal to reject tolerances of chlorpyrifos in response to a court-ordered deadline.

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

“At this time, EPA is unable to make a safety finding as required under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) due to exposure to drinking water in certain watersheds,” EPA says in a release.

According to EPA, in June, it indicated an intention to issue a proposed rule revoking tolerances by April 15, 2016, to address previously identified drinking water concerns and in response to a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA). The timeline would allow for additional analysis.

On Aug. 10, the 9th Circuit rejected EPA’s timeline, ordering EPA by Oct. 31, 2015, to either deny the petition, issue a proposed revocation, or issue a final revocation rule.

“EPA is not denying the petition because we are unable to make a safety finding based on the science as it stands currently. EPA is not issuing a final revocation rule because we have not proposed it and have not completed our refined drinking water assessment, leaving certain science issues unresolved,” says the release.

“Therefore, as we are informing the court, we have proposed to revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances based on the science as it stands. Issuing a proposed revocation provides an opportunity for public input prior to any final decision. The court also required EPA to provide the timeline for a final rule should EPA issue a proposed revocation by Oct. 31. EPA is notifying the court of the anticipated release of the final rule in December 2016,” the agency said.

EPA says based on current analysis, there are not risks from exposure to chlorpyrifos in food.

“But, when those exposures are combined with estimated exposure from drinking water in certain watersheds, EPA cannot conclude that the risk from aggregate exposure meets the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) safety standard. EPA has determined that safe levels of chlorpyrifos may be exceeded in parts of the U.S. for people whose drinking water is derived from some small vulnerable watersheds where chlorpyrifos is heavily used. If the tolerances are revoked, EPA would cancel the associated food uses of chlorpyrifos,” the agency said.

EPA is performing additional analysis related to its hazard assessment in order to make certain that any final decision protects infants and children. Once completed, if warranted, it would inform a final tolerance revocation rule. The agency is also working to refine the drinking water analysis.

“In December 2014, EPA released a human health risk assessment for chlorpyrifos. The assessment indicated the potential for drinking water risks in small watersheds characterized by high concentrations of farming where chlorpyrifos may be widely used. The 2014 assessment included a refined drinking water analysis for the Pacific Northwest and the Southeast, but not the entire country,” the agency said.

EPA will accept comments on this proposed rule for 60 days. The Proposed Tolerance Revocation Rule will be available at www.regulations.gov in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0653.