12 November 2001 00:00 [Source: ICB Americas]The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is placing new restrictions on the use of two older pesticides--azinphos-methyl and phosmet--to protect agricultural workers more carefully.
"The new measures on azinphos-methyl and phosmet will help decrease pesticide exposure and provide additional health protection for agricultural workers," says Stephen Johnson, EPA's assistant administrator for pesticides, prevention and toxic substances.
"The best scientific expertise has been incorporated into the new precautions, and new health effects monitoring of agricultural workers will be required to determine if it is necessary to impose additional restrictions," Mr. Johnson adds.
He says the decision also provides time for farmers to make the transition to safer alternatives for uses that are critical for crop production.
For azinphos-methyl, 28 crop uses are being canceled, and seven crop uses are being phased out over four years. Eight crop uses will be allowed to continue under "time-limited" registration for another four years.
Prior to the expiration of the four-year period, EPA will conduct a scientific review of these eight crop uses to determine if it should continue to allow registration.
Azinphos-methyl is registered by Bayer AG and Makhteshim-Agan Industries.
The crop uses being phased out in four years include those for almonds, tart cherries, cotton, cranberries, peaches, pistachios and walnuts. The crops with time-limited registration include apples/crab apples, blueberries, sweet cherries, pears, pine seed orchards, brussels sprouts, cane berries, and the use of azinphos-methyl by nurseries for quarantine requirements.
For phosmet, three uses are being voluntarily canceled, and nine crops are being authorized for use under specific terms for five years. Also, 33 crops are being approved for continued use.
EPA says the new measures on phosmet are being implemented under an agreement with the registrant Gowan Company.
The three voluntary cancellations include use on domestic pets, household ornamentals, and household fruit trees. However, EPA says phosmet is used infrequently for these applications.
A group of nine crops will be authorized for phosmet use for five years under specific terms--apples, apricots, blueberries, crab apples, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears and plums.
To strengthen worker protection during the phaseout and time-limited registration periods, EPA says a variety of stringent new precautions are being implemented to reduce exposure, including longer periods before a worker can enter a treated area, significantly limiting the number of applications, and prohibiting aerial application for almost all uses.
During this period, the agency says it will also require that studies on the potential health effects on workers be conducted to help ensure that they are not exposed to unacceptable levels of these pesticides.
"If new information shows unreasonable risks, the agency could take immediate action to remove any of these uses," EPA says.
Azinphos-methyl and phosmet were first registered for use in the US more than 35 years ago.
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