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April 01, 2013
Stakeholder involvement in pesticide reviews
Stakeholder involvement in pesticide reviews

In line with an August 2012 proposal to undertake “significant changes” to the process the EPA uses to review pesticide registrations, the Agency has released for public comment its first draft human health and ecological risk assessments for five pesticides.

The 2012 proposal addressed concerns raised by states and pesticide stakeholders that federal agency consultations regarding pesticide registration review decisions, as required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA), lacked transparency and that stakeholders did not have opportunities to provide the federal agencies with relevant data early in the review process.

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requires that the EPA review the registrations of pesticide products every 15 years to determine if the product is performing its intended function without unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.  The EPA says it intends to review over 700 pesticide registrations by 2022.

Formal consultations

Jointly developed by the EPA and the federal services responsible for implementing the ESA, the 2012 proposal created new openings for pesticide stakeholders and the Department of Agriculture to participate in the development of the Agency’s ecological risk assessments and to “inform and refine” those assessments.  According to the EPA, these parties should be allowed to get involved in discussions about the economic and technical feasibility of reasonable and prudent alternatives (RPA) that can be used to avoid jeopardy to threatened and/or endangered species before start-up of the formal ESA consultations among federal agencies.

Risk characterizations

The first batch of draft human health and ecological risk assessments under this policy are for cyromazine, dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate, glufosinate ammonium, silica silicates (silica dioxide and silica gel), and undecylenic acid.  The Agency is requesting public comments on the drafts as follows:

  • Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate, silica silicates (silica dioxide and silica gel), and undecylenic acid.  Because of the use patterns and toxicity profiles of these pesticides, the EPA has conducted qualitative assessments of human health and ecological risks, including risks to federally listed threatened and endangered species.  The Agency is requesting comments to reduce uncertainties associated with the risk characterizations in the current assessments, including potential risks to listed species.
  • Cyromazine and glufosinate ammonium.  In addition to recent human health risk assessments, the EPA has completed draft ecological assessments that include screening-level evaluations of risks to listed species.  Although the screening-level assessments may show potential risks of direct effects to certain species, the EPA says it is premature to make effects determinations for listed species until further refinements are made.  Therefore, the Agency is requesting comments and suggestions for refining the draft screening-level assessments to reduce uncertainties in the characterization of risks to listed species.

Early mitigation

That EPA notes that if a draft risk assessment shows risks of concern to human health or the environment for a specific chemical, the agency reserves the right to initiate mitigation at this early stage of the registration review rather than waiting for completion of a chemical’s registration review. 

The comment period for the draft risk assessments for the five pesticides is open until May 6, 2013.

EPA’s announcement of availability of the draft assessments was published in the March 6, 2013 FR

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