The Environmental Protection Agency has extended until March 7 the comment period on its proposed interim registration decision and risk assessments for chlorpyrifos, an insecticide that environmental and farmworker groups have been trying to ban for more than a decade.

In December, EPA issued its interim decision, which would allow continued use of the product so long as certain conditions are met. The agency proposed label amendments that would limit applications “to address potential drinking water risks of concern,” and added requirements for the use of personal protective equipment and spray drift mitigation.

EPA had proposed revoking food tolerances for the chemical during the Obama administration, but one of former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s first decisions was to reverse course on that. Since then, former registrant Corteva Agriscience announced it would stop manufacturing the chemical, which it did at the end of 2020.

That doesn’t mean it can’t still be used, however, and in comments filed so far, farm groups such as the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association supported its continued use while criticizing epidemiological studies used by EPA to determine the chemical’s risks.

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The Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, however, said proposed PPE requirements and engineering controls — double layers of clothing, long-sleeves, long pants, and respirators — “may lead to heat and respiratory stress during much of the growing season in many parts of the country where chlorpyrifos is applied.”

California banned virtually all uses of the insecticide by the end of 2020. Other states also have approved bans that have yet to go into effect, including Hawaii and New York.

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