March 15, 2023

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made an important announcement regarding the protection of farmworkers and environmental justice. The agency has decided to expedite protections on some high-risk uses of four organophosphate pesticides by releasing updated occupational and non-occupational spray drift exposure risk assessments for diazinon, ethoprop, tribufos, and phosmet. These pesticides are commonly used in both agricultural and non-agricultural settings.

The EPA's updated assessments have identified potential risks to people who mix, load, and apply the four pesticides, farmworkers who work with crops that have been treated with these pesticides, and bystanders who are potentially exposed to spray drift, including families living in agricultural communities. The potential risks include adverse health effects from exposure to these chemicals.

To seek early mitigation before concluding the usual registration review process, EPA is taking this early action several years before the expected completion of its work on these compounds. Every 15 years, the EPA is required to review the registration process of these pesticides to ensure they continue to meet the legal requirement that they have no unreasonably harmful impact on human health or the environment.

The EPA is presently discussing early risk mitigation with the technical registrants of the four pesticides. The types of mitigation being considered include a ban on certain uses and formulations, a restriction on application techniques, an increase in the requirements for personal protective equipment for pesticide handlers, a requirement for spray drift, and new limitations on when workers can return to treated fields to carry out harvesting and other post-application tasks.

The EPA is asking the registrants to submit label amendments that reflect the necessary risk mitigation measures for each of these four organophosphates and is prepared to expedite label reviews in order to implement the protections as quickly as possible.

In conclusion, the EPA's announcement is an important step in protecting farmworkers and upholding the commitment to environmental justice. By taking early action to address the risks associated with these pesticides, the agency is putting in place important protections for some high-risk uses while working through complicated scientific issues. The EPA's focus on risk mitigation is commendable, and we hope that the agency continues to prioritize the health and well-being of people and the environment.

Source: EPA Announces Accelerated Action on Four Organophosphate Pesticides Based on Updated Exposure Assessments | US EPA

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