Environmental Protection Agency proposes new safety measures for Chlorpyrifos

Farmer spraying with a tractor in a field

The EPA is taking the next step in its regulatory review of chlorpyrifos, an insecticide used for a large variety of agricultural uses and non-agricultural uses. Today, EPA is proposing measures to reduce the risks identified in the agency’s September 2020 draft risk assessments to better protect human health and the environment. As outlined in the proposed interim decision (PID), EPA is proposing:

  • Label amendments limiting application to address potential drinking water risks of concern. 
  • Additional personal protective equipment and application restrictions to address potential occupational handler risks of concern.
  • Spray drift mitigation, in combination with the use limitations and application restrictions, identified to address drinking water and occupational risks, to reduce exposure to non-target organisms.

The PID presents proposed mitigation with the 10-fold (10X) Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) Safety Factor, reflecting the uncertainties around doses that may cause pre-and post-natal neurodevelopmental effects. Under FQPA, EPA evaluates new and existing pesticides to ensure they can be used with a reasonable certainty of no harm to infants, children, and adults. EPA is required to consider the special susceptibility of children to pesticides by using an additional 10X safety factor unless adequate data are available to support a different factor. EPA additionally included an FQPA factor of 1X to reflect the range of potential risk estimates of chlorpyrifos, as illustrated in the September 2020 draft risk assessments.

Upon publication of the PID in the Federal Register, public comments will be accepted for 60 days on both the September 2020 draft risk assessments as well as the PID. By holding the comment period for both of the actions at the same time, the public has access to more information and can provide more informed robust comments. 

EPA will also consider the input and recommendations from the September 2020 FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) meeting once it releases its report in December 2020. Depending on the SAP’s conclusions, EPA may further revise the human health risk assessment. After a thorough review of the best available science and carefully considering scientific peer review and public comments, EPA will then determine the next steps in the registration review process for chlorpyrifos.

Read the PID here. Upon publication of the Federal Register notice, public comments will be accepted for 60 days in the chlorpyrifos registration review docket # EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0850 on the government regulations website

Photo by Teo Sticea on Unsplash