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December 9, 2011

State FIFRA Issues Research & Evaluation Group Meeting

Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

On December 5-6, 2011, the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials (AAPCO)/State Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Issues Research and Evaluation Group (SFIREG) held its semi-annual full committee meeting in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offices in Arlington, Virginia. Through a cooperative agreement in 1978, EPA and AAPCO created SFIREG, an AAPCO committee with EPA funding, to promote information exchange and cooperation between the states and EPA in the development of pesticide policies and regulations. More information about SFIREG is available online. A copy of the meeting handouts is available upon request by sending an e-mail to Chad Howlin.

Issues of potential interest discussed during the meeting included the following, each of which is discussed below:

  • Bed Bugs Issue Paper
  • Endangered Species Act (ESA) Consultation Process Issue Paper
  • Drift Label Language Update
  • Soil Fumigation Mitigation Label Amendments Update
  • Worker Protection Standards Guidance
  • Distributor Label Enforcement Update

Steven Dwinell, Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services and SFIREG Chair, stated that SFIREG had forwarded to the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) an issue paper listing areas of concern among State Lead Agencies (SLA) concerning bed bug issues. Dwinell then introduced Susan Jennings, OPP Public Health Coordinator, who gave a presentation responding to the issues raised.

As its first issue, SFIREG stated there is a need for an accessible list of registered and efficacious products for use against bed bugs, as well as information about control measures that do not use pesticides. Jennings stated that upon review, EPA identified more than 300 products registered for use against bed bugs, and that EPA has now created and made available a search engine to identify these products. Jennings also stated that few of these registrants have submitted efficacy data. Moreover, EPA is preparing guidelines for bed bug efficacy studies, which is scheduled for Scientific Advisory Panel review in early 2012. Regarding non-pesticide products such as heat or steam, Jennings stated that analyzing such products is beyond EPA’s FIFRA mandate and would be resource intensive, but that OPP would be pleased to serve as a clearinghouse to make available information developed by others.

As its second issue, SFIREG stated there is a need for developing remediation measures, including acceptable clean-up levels, for pesticides that are misused against bed bugs in residential and commercial structures. Jennings stated that misuse is not infrequent for a range of indoor pests. Jennings also stated that OPP is willing to work with others on specific questions about individual pesticides, but that the available data are often insufficient to reach a definitive determination on residue levels.

As its third issue, SFIREG raised concern about the efficacy of FIFRA Section 25(b) products, particularly regarding bed bugs. Jennings stated that EPA currently is evaluating potential solutions to this issue, including working with the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials (ASPCRO).

Endangered Species Act Consultation Process Issue Paper

Dwinell stated that SFIREG also had sent OPP an issue paper calling for improvements in the consultation process between EPA and the Services (National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) on endangered species issues for pesticide registrations. Dwinell stated that OPP had provided a “thoughtful” written response, a copy of which was circulated. Dwinell raised the question whether there is anything the SLAs can do to facilitate the process. Speaking for OPP, Catherine Eiden stated that EPA, on behalf of the Agency, the Services, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has requested the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review the consultation process and related issues and provide recommendations. Eiden stated the NAS review would be a public process and suggested that all interested parties participate in the process, including submitting comments.

Drift Label Language Update

Bill Jordan, OPP Office of the Director, and Rick Keigwin, Director, Pesticide Re-evaluation Division (PRD), briefly reviewed the prolonged history of the draft Pesticide Registration (PR) Notice concerning drift label language. Jordan stated that the draft PR Notice is undergoing the lengthy review process in which all EPA Offices have an opportunity for review and comment. Jordan stated that he expected that process to conclude soon, at which point the draft PR Notice would be forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review, possibly initiating another lengthy review process.

Soil Fumigation Mitigation Label Amendments Update

John Leahy, EPA PRD, provided SFIREG with an update on the status of label amendments for soil fumigation products. Leahy stated that EPA expects all labels will be revised, submitted, and approved by registrants by the end of 2011. He also stated that the requirement to maintain Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) equipment onsite is no longer mandatory and that the label language would be changed accordingly. Leahy stated that applicator training materials are in their final stages of development and will be available by Spring 2012. He also stated that EPA is continuing to update its Soil Fumigant Tool Box, including Fumigant Management Plan templates and the buffer zone calculator.

Worker Protection Standards Guidance

Amar Singh, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assistance (OECA), presented an update on the new Worker Protection Standards (WPS) guidance that OECA is developing for inspectors. Singh stated that EPA has received many comments from the states and has incorporated them into the present draft, which is undergoing final EPA review. Singh stated that OECA expects the final guidance will be published by the end of December 2011 and available on EPA’s website.

Distributor Label Enforcement Update

Don Lott, OECA, stated that EPA has long been concerned about the supervision that primary registrants give to their distributors and the distributor labels. Lott stated that distributor labels often differ impermissibly from the primary registrants’ labels; he also stated that distributors often reformulate the product without the primary registrant’s knowledge or consent. According to Lott, OECA’s new enforcement strategy has as a goal improved compliance with distributor product requirements. OECA’s multi-year project will target distributor labels for restricted use pesticides, pesticides that OECA believes present risk issues, and large volume products (defined as having many distributors), as well as single product compliance issues.

To meet distributor compliance goals, Lott stated that OECA plans to review state referrals for distributor products and expand cases by looking at the primary registrant and its other distributor products to assess whether the primary registrant has adequate controls in place or whether there is wide-spread non-compliance. Lott stated that OECA recognizes that this approach will require increased coordination between the Regions and States.

Other Topics

  • OPP Update: Jim Roelofs, EPA OPP Field and External Affairs Division, reported on various OPP activities, including a recent pesticide label quality training workshop; because of a high level of interest in participation expressed by industry, OPP is planning to schedule another workshop to coincide with the CropLife America/Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment meeting scheduled in Arlington, Virginia, on April 5-6, 2012. Roelofs also reported on ongoing efforts to coordinate with the USDA about the use of its Biopreferred Program logo on pesticide products.
  • SFIREG Environmental Quality Issues (EQI) Working Committee Report: EQI Chair Ron Meyer provided an update on the Committee’s activities, including efforts related to the bed bugs and ESA issues papers discussed above. Meyer stated that an issue paper on chemigation issues would be forthcoming shortly.
  • SFIREG Pesticide Operations Management (POM) Working Committee Report: POM Chair Cary Giguere provided an update on the Committee’s activities and discussions during the Committee’s September 19-20, 2011, meeting; a summary of that meeting is available online.
  • Effects of Reduced USDA Program Funding: Bonnie Rabe, New Mexico Department of Agriculture, discussed how the reduction in funding to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) would substantially reduce the availability of data on which EPA and SLAs rely for their analyses; the SFIREG Full Committee inquired whether a letter of support, drafted by AAPCO, might be helpful. Rabe and Jeff Haynes, USDA also discussed the elimination of USDA record keeping grants and the significant effect this could have on SLAs.
  • SFIREG Regional Meeting Reports: Regional representatives provided brief overviews of circulated written reports. Among the discussions was a proposal out of Region 5 to ask EPA to make all methomyl products restricted use because of expressed concerns over misuse against wildlife, and a request to consider development of a process to improve communication between SLAs and EPA Regional offices concerning the status of referred enforcement cases.
  • Enforcement Effectiveness Guidelines: Tim Creger, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, provided an update about the formation of a work group to create revised metrics for the effectiveness of the OECA program, because OMB rejected the prior proposed metrics. Creger stated that the goal is the development of performance measures that can be used to promote the program and give an accurate picture of achievements. According to Creger, OECA expects the work group will take two to three years to complete this project.
  • Pesticide Safety Education Training: Richard Beard, American Association of Pesticide Safety Educators (AAPSE), provided an overview of budget cuts and the effects on training and certification programs.
  • Tribal Pesticide Program Council (TPPC): Fred Corey, TPPC Chair, provided a summary of the TPPC activities. In particular, TPPC has petitioned EPA to add label language to certain high risk pesticides to require notification to Tribes and Indian Nations about their application.