WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2014 -- The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comment on its revised assessment of the pesticide chlorpyrifos which the agency said shows some health risk to workers who mix, load and apply the product.

The agency also said that when used in large amounts, chlorpyrifos “has the potential to pose risks in limited geographic areas when drinking water from small watersheds.”

“Based on the results of the risk assessment, additional restrictions may be necessary to ensure that workers who use or work around areas treated with chlorpyrifos are protected and that drinking water sources are protected,” EPA said in a release. It said it is now starting to work on measures to reduce these risks.

The 531-page assessment, which includes more than 400 pages of appendices, found no additional risks from pesticide exposures in food or exposures to bystanders and workers from airborne chlorpyrifos, EPA said. The latest USDA pesticide residue data show no concerns for chlorpyrifos in food, with the pesticide detected in less than 1 percent of samples.

In a statement, Dow AgroSciences noted that EPA’s human health assessment is a revised document and not a final assessment. It said many of the issues noted by EPA in the draft document will be addressed in a 60-day comment period, which opens Jan. 14, and in subsequent review.

Introduced by Dow in the 1960, chlorpyrifos is one of the most widely used pest control products in the world. Dow noted that the pesticide is registered for use in about 100 nations, including the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Italy, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The company said the product is used for insect protection for virtually every crop presently under cultivation globally.

In its release, EPA pointed out that in 2000 it banned household uses of chlorpyrifos, with the exception of ant and roach bait in child-resistant packaging. Between 2000 and 2002 the agency cancelled the use of chlorpyrifos on tomatoes and restricted use on crops including apples, citrus and tree nuts. In 2012, EPA imposed “no-spray” buffer zones around public spaces, including recreational areas and homes, and significantly lowered pesticide application rates.

The new assessment updates a June 2011 preliminary human health risk assessment based on new information received, including public comments. EPA says it factored in exposures from multiple sources including from the exposures from food and water, from inhaling the pesticide and through the skin. EPA considered all populations including infants, children, and women of child-bearing age. The agency says it also incorporated information from a 2012 assessment of spray drift exposure and as well as new restrictions put into place to limit spray drift.

EPA said it is also assessing the ecological risks from chlorpyrifos in conjunction with the Endangered Species Protection Program. Results are expected later in 2015, the agency said.


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