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NEW RESTRICTIONS ON TWO PESTICIDES TO PROTECT AGRICULTURAL WORKERS

Release Date: 10/31/2001
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Environmental News

FOR RELEASE: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2001
NEW RESTRICTIONS ON TWO PESTICIDES
TO PROTECT AGRICULTURAL WORKERS

Dave Ryan 202-564-7827/ ryan.dave@epa.gov
Dave Deegan 202-564-7839 / deegan.dave@epa.gov


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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has developed new restrictions on the use of two agricultural pesticides, azinphos-methyl and phosmet, to increase protection of agricultural workers, and assure that vital agricultural pest control needs are met. Azinphos-methyl and phosmet, first registered over 35 years ago, are important pest control tools for certain food crops.

For azinphos-methyl, 28 crop uses are being canceled, seven crop uses are being phased-out over four years, and eight crop uses will be allowed to continue “time-limited” registration for another four years. Prior to the expiration of the four-year period, EPA will conduct a comprehensive review of these eight crop uses, based on the latest scientific information, to determine if it should continue to allow registration. Azinphos-methyl is registered by Bayer AG and Makhteshim-Agan Industries. The crop uses being phased out in four years include those for: almonds, tart cherries, cotton, cranberries, peaches, pistachios, and walnuts; the crops with time-limited registrations include: apples/crab apples, blueberries, sweet cherries, pears, pine seed orchards, brussels sprouts, cane berries, and the use of azinphos-methyl by nurseries for quarantine requirements.

For phosmet, three uses are being voluntarily cancelled, nine crops are being authorized for use under specific terms for five years, and 33 crops are being approved for continued use. The new measures on phosmet are being implemented under an agreement with the registrant, Gowan Co. The three voluntary cancellations include use on: domestic pets, household ornamentals, and household fruit trees; phosmet, however, is used infrequently for these applications. For phosmet, a group of nine crops will be authorized for use for five years under specific terms: apples, apricots, blueberries, crab apples, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears and plums/dried plums.

“The new measures announced today on azinphos-methyl and phosmet will help decrease pesticide exposure and provide additional health protection for agricultural workers,” said Stephen L. Johnson, EPA Assistant Administrator for Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances. “The best scientific expertise has been incorporated into these new precautions, and new health effects monitoring of agricultural workers will be required to determine if it is necessary to impose additional restrictions. Today’s decision also provides time for farmers to make the transition to safer alternatives for the uses that are critical for crop production.”

To enhance protection of agricultural workers during the phase-out and time-limited registration periods, a variety of stringent new precautions are being implemented to reduce exposure, including longer periods before a worker can enter a treated area, significantly limiting the number of applications, and prohibiting aerial application for almost all uses. During this period, EPA will also require that studies on the potential health effects on workers be conducted to help ensure that they are not exposed to unacceptable levels of these pesticides. If new information shows unreasonable risks, the Agency could take immediate action to remove any of these uses.

For the 28 crop uses being canceled for azinphos-methyl, there will be no phase-out period since there are viable alternatives. Seven crops are being allowed to continue for four years to facilitate transition to viable alternatives. Also, the Agency will allow a time-limited registration for four years for eight specific uses of azinphos-methyl. This four year period will allow farmers and others to develop and implement viable alternatives. Prior to the expiration of the time-limited registrations, the Agency will consider whether to authorize any further extension.

During the period that these uses remain for azinphos-methyl and phosmet, EPA will require new health effects data, new information relating to the potential benefits, and any other information which provides for more accurate assessment of the potential risks and benefits. As the Agency moves forward with these decisions, it will work with the manufacturers, growers, farm workers, and other affected parties to assure that these important actions are implemented in an expeditious and effective manner.

EPA has been evaluating azinphos-methyl and phosmet as part of the Agency’s ongoing process to individually review the organophosphate pesticides and take necessary risk reduction measures as required under the Food Quality Protection Act. The Interim Reregistration Eligibility Documents (IREDs) for both azinphos-methyl and phosmet are now being issued, since extensive risk assessments for these pesticides have been completed. EPA will accept comments for 60 days on these IREDs, which will be available soon on EPA’s web site at: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides.



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