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EPA to Assess Chem Spray Drift Earlier
By Todd Neeley
Monday, July 15, 2024 4:30PM CDT

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on Monday plans to step up the timing of when it assesses farmworker and other human exposure to pesticide spray drift by 15 years.

Historically, the agency assesses human exposure to spray drift at the time of a chemical's registration review that takes place every 15 years.

"EPA will now assess the potential for people to be exposed to a pesticide when it drifts away from where it is applied earlier in the agency's review process," the agency said in a news release.

"This applies to new active ingredient pesticide registrations and new use decisions. This updated process will protect people from pesticide spray drift 15 years sooner in the review process for new pesticides than has historically occurred."

Starting immediately, the EPA said it will also complete a chemical-specific spray drift analysis during the initial registration process or the review process for new and amended uses of existing products.

This is to ensure that any "needed protections" are put in place from the beginning of the pesticide's use, rather than delaying them for 15 years.

"This will also ensure both new and old pesticide registrations are held to the same standard," the agency said.

EPA said it will use chemical-specific human health spray drift analyses to determine specific label instructions to protect against and reduce the occurrence of spray drift.

That includes droplet sizes and buffer distances for each pesticide and use.

"Additionally, if EPA identifies spray drift risks for people living or working nearby or non-target species, the agency will protect against those risks," the agency said.

Human health spray-drift analyses will now be included for any new active ingredients. This includes new submissions for domestic uses of new active ingredients.

In addition, the analyses will be conducted for any new chemical use and amended use registration submissions where an active ingredient has previously received a chemical-specific spray drift analysis.

The new policy also includes currently pending registrations under review by the EPA.

"During and after application, pesticides can drift to unintended areas like residential or recreational areas where people can get it on their skin or eyes, causing different symptoms depending on the pesticide," the agency said.

"By assessing the amount of a pesticide that drifts beyond its intended target, EPA can identify measures that will protect people from unintended pesticide exposure."

Read more on the EPA policy change: https://www.regulations.gov/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on social platform X @DTNeeley

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