EPA proposes stricter standards for certain pesticide applicators

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Aug. 5, 2015-The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing stricter rules for applicators of “restricted use pesticides,” which make up about 5 percent of all pesticides registered at EPA, according to Jim Jones, the agency's assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

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Jones said restricted use pesticides “can pose greater risk to human health and the environment if used improperly,” and the rules governing their use have not been updated since 1974.

“The goal of today's action is to reduce the likelihood of harm from the misapplication of toxic pesticides and ensure a consistent level of protection among states,” according to EPA's announcement. “Pesticide use would be safer with increased supervision and oversight.”

This class of pesticides can only be applied by a certified applicator or someone working directly under the certified person's supervision.

One of the changes in the proposed rule include a nationwide standard that all applicators must be 18 years old, as well as anyone working directly under their supervision. Those working under the supervision of certified applicators would now need training on using pesticides safely and protecting their families from take-home pesticide exposure.

Jones said 35 states already have a minimum required age of 18 for applicators, but the proposal makes the age requirement for applicators and those under their supervision a uniform standard nationwide.

Under the rule, all applicators must renew their certification every three years, and those using “high risk” application methods, such as fumigation or aerial spray, must receive specialized training.

For example, fumigating strawberries fields requires the use of a restricted use pesticide, as well as aerial spraying for mosquito control

State agencies issue licenses to pesticide applicators who need to demonstrate under an EPA-approved program their ability to use these products safely. Jones said many states already have in place many of the proposed changes, and noted that the rule promotes interstate recognition of applicator licenses.

Sources within the pesticide industry have been talking to EPA about exactly what problem this new rule attempts to solve. For example, what does the data show about how often restricted use pesticides are being applied by people who are underage, lack training or both?

According to EPA, the rule would result in estimated benefits of $80.5 million due to fewer acute pesticide incidents in people.

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