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February 9, 2010

EPA SAP Releases Report on Nanosilver and Other Nanometal Pesticide Products

Lynn L. Bergeson

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) has released the minutes of its November 3-5, 2009, meeting regarding evaluation of the hazard and exposure associated with nanosilver and other nanometal pesticide products.  In addition to the general observations noted here, more information is available in our February 8, 2010, memorandum. First, the SAP final recommendations address nanosilver almost entirely, and little or no mention is made of “nanometal pesticide products.” Second, the Panel stated that existing models “are not appropriate” for use with silver nanomaterials and “will not accurately predict nanosilver exposure scenarios.” The Panel stated that it “strongly believe[s] that in addition to current data requirements under [the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)], additional assays which compared nanoscale and bulk materials would be most beneficial in addressing” differences in toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics for nanoscale materials. This conclusion alone poses formidable challenges for nanosilver pesticide applicants wishing to obtain registration status under FIFRA. Third, the Panel agreed that pesticide products should be tested on a “case-by-case basis,” EPA should use a meta-analysis on the products to understand better trends in life cycle analyses, and “close attention” should be given to products that claim a non-ionic mode of action as an antimicrobial agent. Fourth, the Panel outlined detailed research needs that EPA should consider. The outline will discourage even the most optimistic potential FIFRA registrant for a nanopesticide as the research needs are extensive and likely costly. The Panel also identified the “most useful short-term information needs,” of which stakeholders should be aware. Finally, the Panel stated that a “critical issue” that “must be clarified is the use of [the] terminology ‘nano’” and that for standardization, “the unique property for nanosilver should be established.”