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EPA SEEKS PUBLIC COMMENT TO REDUCE RISKS OF PHOSPHIDE FUMIGANTS

Release Date: 12/18/98
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FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18, 1998
EPA SEEKS PUBLIC COMMENT TO REDUCE RISKS OF PHOSPHIDE FUMIGANTS

EPA is seeking public input on how to reduce risks associated with aluminum phosphide and magnesium phosphide, two pesticide fumigants primarily used to control insects and rodents in facilities where agricultural food commodities are stored. EPA believes that protective measures, in addition to current restrictions, are needed to protect bystanders in residential and occupational settings, and pesticide applicators from exposure to the phosphine gas that is created when these pesticides are used. Phosphine gas is highly toxic and known to pose hazards to human health, particularly at high concentrations for short periods of exposure. The Agency has proposed a broad range of preventive measures to reduce these hazards. The proposed measures are presented for public comment in EPA’s draft Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED) for aluminum and magnesium phosphide. Few, if any, viable alternatives to the use of aluminum and magnesium phosphide exist for fumigation to control pests in stored grain. EPA is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Phosphine Task Force to evaluate the proposals in the RED, and to explore other alternatives. EPA also plans to conduct stakeholder meetings, where farm groups, food distributors, and other interested parties can provide comment and suggest additional options for reducing hazards. Measures include a strategy for notifying neighboring residents and other potentially affected individuals in advance of a fumigation; the establishment of buffer zones; more stringent monitoring requirements; and several additional measures aimed at protecting workers who are involved in operations using aluminum and magnesium phosphide. The comment period on the RED closes March, 1999 and stakeholder holder meetings are currently planned for the spring of 1999 in Kansas City, Mo. and Sacramento, Calif. A copy of the RED is available on EPA’s Internet site at: http://www.epa.gov/REDs or by contacting the OPP Pesticide Docket, Public Information and Records Integrity Branch, at 703-305-5805.

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