EPA proposes new guidance for assessing pesticide drift

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2014 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released two draft guidance documents describing how the agency plans to evaluate human and ecological risks from pesticide spray that drifts off its intended target.

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The first involves estimating spray that drifts into drinking water settings. The second, a residential exposure document, describes when risk assessments are needed for indirect exposures, “such as children playing on a lawn that has pesticide residues that drifted from a nearby treated field,” according to the Federal Register notice. It also describes a screening approach for defining when assessments are needed and the methodology for estimating risks for such indirect exposures.

Public comment on the documents will be accepted until March.

Mike Leggett, senior director of environmental policy for CropLife America, a trade association of pesticide makers and distributors, said the process for estimating spray drift described in the proposals has the potential to limit food production “by implementing unnecessary buffer zones and providing large over-estimates of drift that may affect the commercial viability of products.”

CropLife's member companies invest heavily in understanding the science of pesticide applications and continue to develop new ways to improve application efficiency, he said in an e-mailed statement.

“While the crop protection industry understands the process for estimating spray drift fractions, we fail to see where the process described by EPA will produce more realistic estimates of risk to humans or the environment,” Leggett said.

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