Aug 22, 2017Health protections pursued against chlorpyrifos use in California
The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) announced Aug. 18 that both the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment are pursuing health protections on one of the most widely used agricultural pesticides in the nation, chlorpyrifos.
The EPA said chlorpyrifos is used to control foliage and soil-borne insects on food and feed crops. Since 1965, the pesticide has been used on corn, soybeans, fruit and nut trees, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, broccoli and cauliflower, as well as other row crops.
The Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released an updated draft risk assessment for public comment. This action marks the start of a public and scientific review of the document, which could lead to increased restrictions on chlorpyrifos statewide. DPR is currently developing interim restrictions on use of the pesticide and recommendations will be made to county agricultural commissioners next month.
In addition, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is referring chlorpyrifos for potential listing as a developmental toxicant under Proposition 65. OEHHA posted an announcement that the state’s Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee will consider the listing of chlorpyrifos at its next public meeting.
“While chlorpyrifos has been protecting crops for more than 50 years, new information in the scientific community leads us to believe the level of risk it poses is greater than previously known,” said CalEPA Secretary Matthew Rodriquez. “We need to better understand the science to ensure our actions protect public health. The actions we are taking today reflect our commitment to the health and safety of all Californians, and the environment.”
Department of Pesticide Regulation
DPR scientists believe chlorpyrifos may pose a public health risk as a toxic air contaminant based on its assessment of the latest studies in the scientific community. However, this new finding, indicated in the updated draft risk assessment has not been peer reviewed and must go through a public comment period and be independently evaluated by other scientists.
On Sept. 15, DPR will hold a public workshop on the updated draft risk assessment at the Pesticide Registration and Evaluation Committee meeting in Sacramento.
After the 45-day written public comment period, which begins today, DPR’s updated draft risk assessment will go before an independent panel of nine scientists known as the Scientific Review Panel (SRP). The thorough review process, which may ultimately lead to more restrictions on use, may conclude in December 2018.
Next month, DPR will provide county agricultural commissioners with specific interim recommendations, including:
- Increasing distances between sites where the chemical is applied and sensitive locations, such as homes and schools. These would be specific to each type of application method.
- New restrictions on methods used to apply chlorpyrifos.
Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
OEHHA will soon open a written public comment period on scientific materials that describe the evidence for the developmental toxicity of chlorpyrifos. OEHHA will provide the materials and the written public comments to the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee. The committee is an independent panel of 10 scientific experts that determines whether chemicals are added to the Proposition 65 list as causing birth defects and other reproductive harm. The committee will also consider public comments presented at its November 29 meeting.
If the committee adds chlorpyrifos to the Proposition 65 list as a developmental toxicant, businesses that knowingly cause exposures above minimum levels must provide a Proposition 65 warning.
DPR’s updated draft risk assessment and other documents relating to chlorpyrifos are available at: http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/whs/active_ingredient/chlorpyrifos.htm
OEHHA’s notice of the Nov. 29 meeting of the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee concerning chlorpyrifos is available at: www.oehha.ca.gov.