EPA Rejects Call For Interim Buffer Zones for Organophosphates, Other Pesticides

04/01/2014 -

Reaffirming a commitment to “case-by-case chemical-specific risk assessment,” EPA has rejected (March 2014) a petition filed by pesticide opponents calling for interim buffer zones for entire classes of pesticides in order to further limit potential bystander exposure to airborne off-target movement while the Agency is completing its assessments on individual organophosphate, carbamate and other pest control products.

Pesticide opponents had argued that buffers were needed (60 feet for ground application and 300 feet for application by air) because in their opinion EPA’s science-based evaluations of individual products was taking so long that bystanders needed interim protection.

In rejecting that argument, EPA noted that a “one-size-fits-all” approach was not scientifically defensible (as required under its legislative mandate) and consequently would not a wise use of limited Agency resources. By contrast, the Agency said, a product-specific approach to regulation, “yields a more realistic representation of actual risks” and a broader range of mitigation measures, which could include changes in use rates, application methods, spray technologies and other elements, instead of relying entirely on buffer zones as pesticide had opponents advocated.

The Agency noted that it had reached a voluntary, product-specific agreement of this sort with chlorpyrifos registrants in 2012 that provided additional protection for certain sensitive areas through changes in product use and buffer zones that varied in size based on use rate and spray technology. Read the agreement summary.

EPA believes “that its current system of registration review is the most comprehensive and effective way to assess and mitigate pesticide risks and to take advantage of new and emerging science,” the Agency concluded. “Other means of managing risks…as suggested by the Petitioners…are either not needed, not likely to be successful, require more resources than are available, and/or take more time than registration review.”

Read the EPA’s full response.

Related: EPA » registration review » volatility » bystander exposure » buffer zones

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