Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. serves small, medium, and large pesticide product registrants and other stakeholders in the agricultural and biocidal sectors, in virtually every aspect of pesticide law, policy, science, and regulation.
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By Lisa M. Campbell, Lisa R. Burchi, and Barbara A. Christianson

On November 16, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will now provide pesticide registrants with electronic Certificates of Registration, commonly known as “Gold Seal” letters.  A Gold Seal letter from EPA certifies that a product to be exported is registered with EPA and meets all necessary registration requirements.  EPA states that this improved process will allow for the electronic Gold Seal letters to be e-mailed to registrants rather than physically mailed.

Under the new process, a company must submit a written request to EPA, identifying the company name, the EPA Registration Number at issue, and the country to which the product will be exported.  The Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act (PRIA 4) category is M006 and will cover up to five Gold Seal letters for one product with a one-month decision time.  The fee for fiscal year 2020-2021 is $291.  EPA states that because the fee is low and EPA’s timeframe to respond is short, this category is not eligible for small business waivers.  EPA also clarifies that distributor products are not eligible for Gold Seal letters.

Information on how to request a Gold Seal letter, including information on how registrants should present the letters to the U.S. Department of State when authentication is needed for business purposes, is available here

This announcement is a welcome improvement to the existing process, providing a key flexibility during the COVID-19 public health emergency.  EPA expects to transition permanently to this digital process, which it notes allows for faster processing, better tracking, and greater consistency.


 
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By Jason E. Johnston

On November 6, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a final rule in the Federal Register that makes several changes to “Crop Group 19:  Herbs and Spices Group.”  85 Fed. Reg. 70976.  The original proposed rule, which was published on August 27, 2019 (84 Fed. Reg. 44804), was created in response to a petition developed by the International Crop Grouping Consulting Committee (ICGCC) workgroup that was submitted by the Interregional Research Project Number 4 (IR-4).  EPA received comments from eight entities and revised the original proposed rule in response to those comments.

The major components of the new rule are a revision of the commodity definition for marjoram; the addition of three new commodity definitions for basil, edible flowers, and mint; and replacement of the existing “Crop Group 19:  Herbs and Spices Group” with two new expanded crop groups, “Crop Group 25:  Herb Group” and “Crop Group 26:  Spice Group.”  Recognizing that the existing combined Crop Group 19 Herbs and Spices Group limited the establishment of crop group tolerances, EPA created the two new separate crop groups to benefit herb and spice growers.  EPA states that the anticipated economic benefit of the new crop groups is estimated to be a cost savings of $51.8 million annually.

The crop groups in the final rule include even more commodities than those listed in the proposal.  Crop Group 25 includes 418 herb commodities directly and 25 indirectly through the modification of the definition of edible flowers in 40 C.F.R. Section 180.1. Crop Group 26 includes 205 spice commodities.  The final rule specifies all commodities in the new crop groups and the subgroups therein (i.e., 25A and 25B for fresh herbs and dried herbs) and provides updated representative commodities for each crop group and subgroup.  The effective date of the final rule is January 5, 2021.


 
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By Heather F. Collins, M.S. and Barbara A. Christianson

On November 4, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the release of an updated list of pests of significant health importance for public review and comment.  85 Fed. Reg. 70146.

EPA, in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), identifies pests of significant public health importance, and in coordination with the Public Health Service, develops and implements programs to improve and facilitate the safe and necessary use of chemical, biological, and other methods to combat and control such pests of public health importance.  According to EPA, the list serves as a tool for private and public organizations, including local or state governments, departments of public health, pesticide registrants, and non-governmental organizations, when making decisions and plans about future public health actions.

Since this list’s original publication in 2002, new vector-borne diseases have been identified and pests that had been previously thought of as benign or nuisance pests have been found to impact adversely public health.  EPA, CDC, and USDA collaborated to update the list to incorporate significant changes regarding vector-borne diseases and related research, and eliminate gaps or ambiguities in the current pests list.

EPA states in the notice that the draft Pesticide Registration (PR) Notice 2020-X more precisely describes both the pests and expected public health impacts and adds several new pests (the brown dog tick) and public health impacts (Zika fever and coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2) and that other pests have been renamed or grouped with similar species or removed altogether (hobo spider).

Draft PR Notice 2020-X describes the groups of pests and their potential impact on public health as follows:

  • Arthropods: The listed arthropods may cause asthma or trigger allergies, contaminate food, irritate skin, cause direct injury, or carry diseases such as epidemic typhus, trench fever, epidemic relapsing fever, malaria, encephalitis (St. Louis, Eastern, Western, West Nile, and LaCrosse), yellow fever, dengue fever, and many others.
  • Vertebrates: The listed organisms have the potential for direct human injury and can act as disease reservoirs for rabies and other diseases. The rats and mice include those that spread rodent-borne diseases and contaminate food for human consumption.
  • Microorganisms and acellular particles:  This category includes listed bacteria, fungi, protozoans, viruses, virusoids, and prions. The microorganisms and acellular particles listed in this category cause diseases such as COVID-19, cholera, meningitis, Legionnaire’s Disease, and many others.

The complete list of pests is identified in draft PR Notice 2020-X in Appendix A.

EPA states that the list does not affect the regulatory status of any registration or application for registration of any pesticide product.

Comments on the draft PR Notice are due on or before January 4, 2021, in Docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2020-0260.


 
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By Lisa M. Campbell, Lisa R. Burchi, and Barbara A. Christianson

On November 2, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the proposed rule to add chitosan (Poly-D-Glucosamine) to its list of active ingredients eligible for EPA’s minimum risk pesticide exemption under Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 25(b).  85 Fed. Reg. 69307.

The proposed rule is in response to a petition submitted to EPA on October 10, 2018, requesting that chitosan be added to the list of active ingredients eligible for EPA’s minimum risk exemption, followed by an April 4 2019, amended petition seeking also to add chitosan to the list of inert ingredients eligible for the minimum risk exemption.  EPA on August 20, 2020, issued a Federal Register notice stating that a draft regulatory document on this issue had been forwarded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  EPA states that no comments were submitted on that notice by USDA or any other person.  EPA also forwarded the draft to the FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel for review, but according to EPA, the Panel “waived review of this proposed rule, concluding that the proposed rule does not contain scientific issues that warrant scientific review by the Panel.”  On October 8, 2020, EPA again announced it was considering adding chitosan to the list of active ingredients allowed for use in minimum risk pesticides and provided a pre-publication version of the proposed rule.

EPA states in the November 2, 2020, Federal Register notice regarding the proposed rule: “Based on all the information available to the Agency, there are low risk concerns for human health or the environment if chitosan is intended for use as a minimum risk pesticide.”  According to EPA, adding chitosan to this list may save stakeholders time and money through waived FIFRA registration requirements for certain products containing chitosan.  Specifically, EPA estimates the cost savings of avoiding the application process (e.g., guideline studies, registration fees) to be up to $116,000 initially and approximately $3,400 per year thereafter for each new product.

Comments on EPA’s proposal to add chitosan to its list of active ingredients for use on minimum risk pesticides are due on or before January 4, 2021, in Docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2019-0701.   EPA states that it is currently deferring a decision regarding the amended petition to add chitosan to the list of inert ingredients permitted in minimum risk pesticides.

Additional information on chitosan is available on our blog.


 
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By Lisa M. Campbell, Lisa R. Burchi, and Barbara A. Christianson

On October 30, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) announced that it issued a Compliance Advisory on ultraviolet (UV) lights claiming to kill or be effective against viruses and bacteria. 

EPA states that the Advisory was issued to provide an explanation to the UV light industry that UV lights are regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) as pesticide devices when sold or distributed with claims to kill or be otherwise effective against viruses and/or bacteria, unless an exception applies, and must comply with certain statutory and regulatory requirements.  This is the second Compliance Advisory issued by EPA relating to UV light devices, as an Advisory issued in May 2020 entitled “What You Need to Know Regarding Products Making Claims to Kill the Coronavirus Causing COVID-19” also addressed in part whether UV light devices could make claims against the coronavirus.

The Advisory reiterates that UV lights sold or distributed with claims that the lights can be used for preventing, destroying, repelling, trapping, or mitigating any pests, which include plants, animals, viruses, bacteria, or other micro-organisms, are regulated by EPA under FIFRA as a device.  UV lights without such claims would not be subject to FIFRA.  According to the Advisory, pesticidal devices are subject to certain regulatory requirements under FIFRA, one of which is a prohibition of false or misleading labeling claims. 

The Advisory answers the following questions:

How do I comply with FIFRA if I am selling or distributing a UV light with pesticidal claims?

  • Devices do not need to be registered by EPA and, therefore, are not subject to a pre-market review by EPA (although some states require devices to be registered). However, federal regulations require devices to be produced in an EPA-registered pesticide producing establishment and there are production reporting requirements; see 40 C.F.R Part 167.
  • Devices must be labeled per federal regulations at 40 C.F.R Part 156. Generally, device labels must include warning and caution statements, directions for use and the EPA establishment number, amongst other label requirements. A description of device label requirements can be found at https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/pesticide-registration-manual-chapter-13-devices#labeling.  
  • All claims in connection with the sale or distribution of a device must be true and not misleading. FIFRA Section 12(a)(1)(F) specifically prohibits false or misleading labeling (known as misbranding); this includes claims made in marketing materials and on websites. Examples of misbranding are provided at 40 C.F.R 156.10(a)(5) and include, but are not limited to, false or misleading statements concerning product effectiveness (known as efficacy), claims about product safety, false or misleading comparisons with other pesticides or devices, or any statement directly or indirectly implying that the device is recommended or endorsed by any agency of the Federal Government.  Companies are advised to maintain records, with information and data, to substantiate that claims made in regard to devices are not false or misleading.

In addition to FIFRA requirements, importers of all FIFRA-regulated devices must comply with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) regulations set forth at 19 C.F.R. §§ 12.110 -12.117. Regulated entities that are importing UV pesticide devices are advised that the products being imported must be in compliance with FIFRA prior to entry into the United States. The EPA regularly coordinates with CBP to identify and reject violative UV pesticide devices at the port of entry.

Can a UV light be a pesticide requiring EPA registration?

Yes. If the UV light product incorporates a substance or mixture of substances to perform its intended pesticidal purpose, then it is considered a pesticide product, not a device, and must be registered with EPA in accordance with FIFRA Section 3 before it can be lawfully sold or distributed in the United States. 

Are UV lights safe and effective?

Unlike chemical pesticides, EPA does not routinely review the safety or efficacy of UV light devices and, therefore, EPA has not conducted a human health risk assessment to determine the safety of these products. For the same reason, EPA cannot confirm whether, or under what circumstances, UV light devices might be effective against any pest, including viruses and bacteria. The effectiveness of any UV light device will depend on a variety of factors including, but not limited to, the device’s duration of use, distance of the light from the surface intended to be treated, the UV wavelength, the specific pest being targeted, the strength or wattage of the UV light bulb, the age of the UV light bulb, shadow areas or other factors. 

Consumers are advised to use all pesticidal devices ONLY in accordance with the Directions for Use, which are required to appear on the product label. EPA recommends that consumers contact the manufacturer or seller of the pesticidal device directly if they have any questions about how to use the product, the product’s safety, or the product’s efficacy.

What are the compliance concerns related to UV lights?

There may be members of the UV light industry who are unfamiliar with FIFRA and may not be aware of statutory and regulatory requirements. For example, they may be unaware that it is a violation of FIFRA to sell or distribute pesticidal UV light devices that are misbranded or that have not been produced in an EPA-registered establishment. EPA has been receiving complaints that UV light devices may be in violation of FIFRA. These complaints are being reviewed and EPA intends to pursue enforcement, as appropriate. See EPA’s May 2020 compliance advisory on products making claims to kill the coronavirus that causes COVID 19 at https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2020-05/documents/cornavirus-compliance-advisory.pdf and any subsequent updates.

Regulated entities of any size who voluntarily discover, promptly disclose, expeditiously correct, and take steps to prevent recurrence of potential violations may be eligible for a reduction or elimination of any civil penalties that otherwise might apply. To learn more about the EPA’s violation disclosure policies, including conditions for eligibility, please review EPA’s Audit Policy website at https://www.epa.gov/compliance/epas-audit-policy. Most violations can be disclosed and processed via EPA’s automated online “eDisclosure” system - https://www.epa.gov/compliance/epas-edisclosure. Many states also offer incentives for self-policing; please check with the appropriate state agency for more information.

Are you unsure if your product is a device under FIFRA?

EPA has developed a guide concerning pesticide devices that explains what a pesticide device is and how it differs from a pesticide product which requires registration. This guide may be helpful to UV light manufacturers who need to determine if their product is regulated by FIFRA.See https://www.epa.gov/safepestcontrol/pesticide-devices-guide-consumers. If you are still uncertain about whether your UV light product is a device, you may submit a request for a Device Determination from EPA. Instructions for submitting a request can be found at: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/pesticide-registration-manual-chapter-13-devices#obtain.

Discussion

UV light devices are a heightened focus of EPA, whose import and enforcement officials have been reviewing materials (e.g., import documents, websites) related to devices and increasingly bringing enforcement actions against companies for FIFRA violations.  These actions can address circumstances when a pesticide device is not produced in a registered establishment or when the label does not include certain requirement elements, but more recently EPA seems particularly interested in the claims that are being made with regard to these devices and whether those claims are “false and misleading” under EPA’s regulations. 

Ensuring that claims related to the efficacy of the device are not considered by EPA to be “false and misleading” can be especially difficult based on the facts that EPA does not review and approve data that support the claims being made, and also that EPA has not historically provided guidance as to the type of data that it would require to support an efficacy claim for a pesticide device.  This Advisory is interesting to the extent that EPA sets forth various factors to be considered when determining the effectiveness of a UV light device.  These factors include, but are not limited to “the device’s duration of use, distance of the light from the surface intended to be treated, the UV wavelength, the specific pest being targeted, the strength or wattage of the UV light bulb, the age of the UV light bulb, shadow areas or other factors.”  The May 2020 Advisory further states that “UV lights and other pesticide devices may not be able to make claims against coronavirus where devices have not been tested for efficacy or safety for use against the virus causing COVID-19 or harder-to-kill viruses.”  (Emphasis in original.)  In light of the two advisories, it is critical for pesticide device producers to review carefully the data supporting the claims made for their devices to ensure that they comply with the regulatory requirements under FIFRA.


 
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By Lisa M. Campbell, Lisa R. Burchi, and Barbara A. Christianson

On October 30, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule on the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) regulation that revises the requirements on the pesticide application exclusion zone (AEZ), defined as an “area surrounding the point(s) of pesticide discharge from the application equipment that must generally be free of all persons during pesticide applications.”  According to EPA, the targeted changes improve the enforceability and workability of the AEZ requirements, decrease regulatory burdens for farmers, and maintain critical worker protections.  EPA also states the revisions made to the AEZ are consistent with the 2018 Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act of 2018 (PRIA 4).

The final AEZ requirements will go into effect on December 29, 2020.

EPA initially promulgated the WPS regulation in 1992 under EPA’s Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) authorities to protect farm workers from pesticide exposures in production agriculture. According to EPA, “WPS is a uniform set of requirements for workers, handlers, and their employers that are generally applicable to all agricultural pesticides and are incorporated onto agricultural pesticide labels by reference. Its requirements complement the product-specific labeling restrictions and are intended to minimize occupational exposures generally.”

In 2015, EPA issued significant revisions to the 1992 WPS.  Of particular significance, 2015 revisions included a new provision requiring agricultural employers to keep workers and all other individuals out of the AEZ during outdoor pesticide applications.  The AEZ was set at 25 feet in all directions for ground pesticide applications when sprayed from a height greater than 12 inches, and 100 feet in all directions for outdoor aerial, air blast, air-propelled, fumigant, smoke, mist, and fog pesticide applications.  This provision was controversial, however, with state regulators expressing concerns with enforcing the complex AEZ requirements and farm owners expressing concerns with applying and complying with pesticide regulations.

EPA states in the final rule that it clarified and simplified the AEZ requirements based in part on input from state pesticide regulatory agencies and agricultural stakeholders after the adoption of the 2015 WPS rule.  Consistent with PRIA 4, EPA is implementing changes related only to the AEZ requirements in the WPS.  These targeted changes include:

  • Modifying the AEZ so it is applicable and enforceable only on an agricultural employer’s property, as proposed.
  • Adding clarifying language indicating that pesticide applications that have been suspended due to individuals entering an AEZ on the establishment may be resumed after those individuals have left the AEZ.
  • Excepting agricultural employers and handlers from the requirement to suspend applications owing to the presence within the AEZ of persons not employed by the establishment who are in an area subject to an easement that prevents the agricultural employer from temporarily excluding those persons from that area.
  • Allowing the owners and their immediate family (as defined in 40 C.F.R. Section 170.305) to shelter in place inside closed buildings, housing, or shelters within the AEZ, and allowing the application performed by handlers to proceed, provided that the owner has instructed the handlers that only the owner’s immediate family are inside the closed shelter and that the application should proceed despite their presence.
  • Simplifying and clarifying criteria and factors for determining AEZ distances of either 100 or 25 feet by basing the AEZ on application method.  EPA has removed the language and criteria pertaining to spray quality and droplet size, as proposed, so that all ground spray applications from a height greater than 12 inches are subject to the same 25-foot AEZ.

EPA states that many of the changes proposed in November 2019 were retained in the final rule.  Changes that were made include the following:

  • The final rule adds clarifications and revisions to the regulatory text regarding providing an immediate family exemption to the AEZ requirements.  The final rule provides that the AEZ exemption for the immediate family members applies only when the farm owner or immediately family members are inside an enclosed building within the AEZ.
  • The final rule also clarifies that owners may permit handlers to continue with applications when the owner’s family is inside an enclosed structure or home, provided that the owner has expressly instructed the handlers that only the owner’s immediate family members are inside the closed shelter and that the application should proceed despite their presence within that structure.

The final rule is available at EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0543.  Additional information on the revisions to the AEZ requirements is available here.


 
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By Lisa M. Campbell, Lisa R. Burchi, and Barbara A. Christianson

On October 28, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the availability of its progress report in meeting its performance measures and goals for pesticide reregistration during fiscal year (FY) 2018 (2018 Report).  85 Fed. Reg. 68327.  Section 4(l) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requires EPA to publish information about EPA’s annual achievements in this area.  The 2018 Report discusses the completion of tolerance reassessment and describes the status of various regulatory activities associated with reregistration.  The 2018 Report also provides the total number of products reregistered and products registered under the “fast-track” provisions of FIFRA.  The report is available at EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0125.  Comments can be submitted on or before December 28, 2020.

EPA’s completed product reregistration actions totaled 177, short of EPA’s goal of 400 actions.  The table below details the actions completed in FY 2018.

Table 1.  Product Reregistration Actions Completed in FY 2018 (as of September 30, 2018)

Actions FY 2018
Product reregistration actions 19
Product amendment actions 33
Product cancellation actions 125
Product suspension actions 0
Total actions 177

 

 

 

 

 

 

EPA also states that 4,193 products had product reregistration decisions pending at the end of FY 2018, compared to 4,370 products with product reregistration decisions pending at the end of FY 2017, and 4,621 products with product reregistration decisions pending at the end of FY 2016.  Regarding changes in the universe of products in product reregistration, EPA states: “an increase or decrease can be due to fluctuations in numbers of products associated with product-specific Data Call-Ins (PDCIs).”

The number of applications for registration requiring expedited processing (i.e., “fast-track” applications) that EPA considered and approved has been more consistent in recent years, with 2,422, 2,574, and 2,303 in 2016, 2017, and 2018, respectively.


 
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By Barbara A. Christianson

On October 26, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is soliciting public comment on the interim guidance on registering products that claim to have “residual” or “long-lasting” effectiveness against viruses.  This announcement follows up on EPA’s October 14, 2020, announcement that it would begin expediting its review of products with residual efficacy intended for use against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.  While traditional disinfectants only kill viruses and bacteria that are on the surface at the time they are used, surfaces treated with residual antimicrobial products kill pathogens that come into contact with the surface days, weeks, or years after the product is applied.

EPA announced in an October 26, 2020, memorandum that it is seeking feedback from the public on the expedited process, design elements for evaluating residual product claims, and the test methods associated with this initiative. 

All comments on the interim guidance must be submitted to Docket Number EPA-HQ-OPP-2020-0529 on or before January 4, 2021. 

The interim guidance documents -- Interim Method for Evaluating the Efficacy of Antimicrobial Surface Coatings, Interim Guidance - Expedited Review for Products Adding Residual Efficacy Claims, and Interim Method for the Evaluation of Bacterial Activity of Hard, Non-Porous Copper-Containing Surface Products -- are available in Docket Number EPA-HQ-OPP-2020-0529.  More information on the interim guidance is available on our blog.


 
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By Lisa M. Campbell and Lisa R. Burchi

On October 15, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with Electrolux Home Products, Inc. (Electrolux) to resolve alleged violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) for importing air filter products that contain nanosilver.  Specifically, the settlement resolves EPA’s claims that Electrolux imported unregistered pesticides in violation of FIFRA Section 12(a)(1)(A) and failed to file the required Notices of Arrival in violation of FIFRA Section 12(a)(2)(N).  As part of the settlement, Electrolux will pay a civil penalty in the amount of $6,991,400.  The Consent Agreement and Final Order (CAFO) is available here.

According to EPA, Electrolux imported approximately 420,000 Frigidaire brand dehumidifiers and air conditioners that contained filters incorporating an unregistered nanosilver and that were labeled and marketed with pesticidal claims.  With regard to the incorporation of nanosilver, there currently are no nanosilver pesticide products registered with EPA for use in home appliances to disinfect the ambient air or protect the health of the user. The only nanosilver pesticides that are currently registered with EPA are approved solely for incorporation into textiles to protect those articles themselves from antimicrobial pests such as mold and bacteria that can cause deterioration, discoloration, or odors.  In those cases, the products (textiles) incorporated with nanosilver can be exempt from FIFRA registration under the “treated article” exemption.  With regard to the claims, EPA states that claims it considers pesticidal include “antibacterial filter,” and “helps eliminate bacteria in the air that can make breathing difficult.” 

Commentary

The penalty in this case is significant, and represents a potentially growing trend for penalty amounts substantially higher than past cases.  This trend is due at least in part to the inflation adjustments to statutory civil penalty amounts, as discussed further here

In addition to the civil penalty, the CAFO states that Electrolux has replaced the filters manufactured with nanosilver and removed the online and on-box pesticidal claims for the products it had imported, as well as some additional products already in the United States.  The CAFO states:

The SSURO also provided for the movement of subject products for the purpose of consolidating the products for a rework project whereby Respondent, among other things, would replace the filter manufactured with nanosilver contained in each unit with a filter that was not manufactured with a pesticidal substance, affix a sticker with modified language over any pesticidal claims on the product packaging, and remove all pesticidal claims made for the subject products in Respondent’s online marketing

The CAFO further states that “Respondent offered to rework all dehumidifiers and air conditioners that contained a filter manufactured with nanosilver within its possession regardless of the date those products were imported.”  To date, EPA states that Electrolux has brought over 500,000 air conditioners and dehumidifiers into compliance.


 
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By Lisa M. Campbell, Heather F. Collins, M.S. and Barbara A. Christianson

On October 14, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a much-anticipated draft guidance that will allow companies to demonstrate that their products have “long-lasting” or “residual” effectiveness on surfaces against viruses like SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.  EPA’s guidance specifies scientific testing requirements for two different types of products:  (1) disinfectants that also provide residual efficacy, and (2) supplemental residual antimicrobial products (e.g., coatings, paints, solid surfaces) that do not meet EPA’s standards for disinfectants but are intended to be used as a supplement to standard List N disinfectants.

In addition to releasing the draft residual efficacy protocols, EPA has also released an updated draft testing protocol for evaluating a copper surface’s ability to kill bacteria and a draft protocol for evaluating the efficacy of antimicrobial surface coatings.  These laboratory testing methods act as a foundation for EPA’s interim guidance to registrants regarding residual effectiveness.

While EPA does not have an approved standard method to support virus claims for these types of products, EPA states that the following information is intended to provide interim guidance on the study design elements necessary to support these types of claims.  EPA states that it may consider other methods or studies to support residual efficacy claims, provided they are scientifically sound.  Applicants are highly encouraged to consult with EPA prior to submitting.  Of significant interest, EPA states that products may make both types of residual claims provided that they are supported by the appropriate data.

Due to lab capacity concerns, EPA plans to consider non-GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) data to support residual claims, provided that the study submission accurately represents how the study differs from the GLP standards in the 40 C.F.R. Section 160.12 statement of non-compliance.  Additional details provided in the EPA guidance on how to qualify products for residual disinfectants or supplemental residual antimicrobial products are briefly outlined below.

Residual Disinfectant Claims

Residual disinfectants must clear a higher standard of efficacy than supplemental residual antimicrobial products.  Residual disinfectant products must be effective within 10 minutes of a virus or bacteria contacting a treated surface and must remain effective for up to 24 hours.  Surfaces treated with residual disinfectants must not require additional cleaning or disinfection during this window.  EPA-approved residual disinfectant products are eligible to be added to List N.  In addition, long-lasting coating products must satisfy all requirements for standard disinfectant claims (non-residual) to be eligible for residual disinfectant claims and must have undergone testing to support standard disinfectant claims.

To support a claim as a residual bactericidal disinfectant, applicants should use EPA’s Residual Self-Sanitization Protocol with the following modifications:

  • Base Bacteria -- Consistent with EPA Guideline 810.2200, Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC No. 6538) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (ATCC No. 15442) should be used to support the case residual disinfectant claim.
  • Conduct testing on three product lots at the lower certified limit (LCL) for each bacterium.  In accordance with the OCSPP 810.2000 Test Guideline, certificates of analysis should be submitted to substantiate the tested concentration.
  • Residual testing to support additional vegetative bacteria is not needed.  Claims can be bridged from the standard disinfectant (non-residual data) for additional bacteria.  For example, if a product has data to support a base disinfectant claim (Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) and data to support disinfectant claims for additional vegetative bacteria (e.g., Escherichia coli or MRSA), residual data are only needed for the base bacteria, and not additional bacteria, to support residual claims for those vegetative bacteria for which base disinfectant claims are supported.
  • According to the Residual Self-Sanitization Method, durability testing should include 12 wear cycles, consisting of abrasions (alternating wet and dry) and re-inoculations to support a 24-hour residual disinfectant claim.  Each wear cycle consists of four passes (two back and forth) of the abrasion material over the surface followed by re-inoculation.  Additional details can be found in the method.
  • Products should achieve a ≥ 5-log reduction in ≤ 10 minutes ± 5 seconds for qualifying bacteria when compared to the parallel abrasion and re-inoculation controls to support residual disinfectant claims.
  • According to the OCSPP 810.2200 Test Guideline, the performance standard and time to meet the performance standard are consistent with the standards for non-residual disinfectants.
  • At this time, expedited review is limited to residual disinfection claims of 24 hours or less based on data generated in accordance with the re-inoculation and abrasion cycles specified in the referenced protocol.
  1. Residual Virucidal Claims

EPA’s Residual Self-Sanitization Protocol with the modifications below should be used to support residual virucidal claims.  Virucidal efficacy should be assessed consistent with the principles of ASTM E1053 (e.g., recovery, cytotoxicity, neutralization, and calculations), the standard virucidal method detailed in OCSPP 810.2200 Product Performance Test Guideline.

  • To support residual virucidal claims, acceptable non-residual virucidal efficacy (3-log reduction) should be demonstrated for the product at ≤ 10-minute contact time consistent with the OCSPP 810.2200 Product Performance Test Guideline.
  • Residual virucidal data should be generated for the most difficult to kill virus that that the product claims to kill.  Claims for residual effect against the other viruses can be bridged from the non-residual virucidal data supporting the product.  For additional information on selecting the most difficult to kill virus, see EPA’s Emerging Viral Pathogens Guidance.
    • To be considered for List N, virus testing should include a non-enveloped virus or a human coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 or human coronavirus 229E).
  • Testing on two product lots should be conducted at the LCL.
  • According to the Residual Self-Sanitization Method, durability testing should include 12 wear cycles consisting of abrasions (alternating wet and dry) and re-inoculations to support a 24-hour residual disinfectant claim.  Each wear cycle consists of four passes of the abrasion material over the surface followed by re-inoculation.  Additional details can be found in the method.
  • Products should achieve ≥ 3-log reduction in ≤ 10 minutes ± 5 seconds for the hardest to kill virus when compared to the parallel abrasion and re-inoculation controls to support residual virucidal claims.
    • The performance standard and contact times are consistent with the standard non-residual disinfectants.
  • At this time, expedited review is limited to residual disinfection claims of 24 hours or less based on data generated in accordance with the re-inoculation and abrasion cycles specified in the referenced protocol.
  1. Labeling and additional information (both bactericidal and virucidal)
  • Products are eligible for inclusion on List N following adherence to the Emerging Viral Pathogens guidance or appropriate testing for a qualifying virus (e.g., SARS-CoV-2 or human coronavirus 229E).
  • These products may be used as stand-alone disinfectants and do not need a label disclaimer that they are a “supplement to standard disinfection” since they meet the general criteria for disinfectants (effective in ≤ 10 minutes with appropriate log reductions for bacteria and virus).

Supplemental Residual Antimicrobial Products

Supplemental residual antimicrobial products work within two hours of a virus or bacteria coming into contact with a surface and can remain effective for weeks to years.  These products can supplement, but not replace, routine cleaning and disinfection using products from EPA’s List N:  Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).  Approved supplemental residual antimicrobial products are not eligible for inclusion on List N, but will be added to a separate List N appendix.

Qualifying antimicrobial surface coatings, films, fixed/solid, and paint products should demonstrate efficacy against vegetative bacteria first before virus claims can be supported.  These products are not required to meet the efficacy standards for disinfectants and can only be approved for use as supplements to standard disinfection. The duration of residual effectiveness claims that EPA will consider for expedited review depends on the type of product, as outlined below.

  1. Antimicrobial Surface Coatings and Films

For these products, EPA states that EPA’s draft Performance of Antimicrobial Surface Coatings on Hard Non-porous Surfaces for qualifying bacteria should be used.  EPA provides the following additional information for products on which virus claims would be added:

  • Test Organisms
    • Bacteria -- Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC No. 6538) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (ATCC No. 15442) are the qualifying bacteria required to support supplemental residual antimicrobial surface claims for the proposed claim duration (e.g., one week, two weeks).
      • Testing should be conducted on three product lots per bacterium at the LCL.
    • To support claims for additional bacteria, testing should be conducted according to the method but with a reduced number of product lots.
      • Two lots of product for each bacterium at the nominal concentration.
    • Viruses -- All viruses for which claims are desired should be tested.  The most difficult to kill virus should be subjected to the durability assessment using coating carriers followed by the efficacy assessment to support the proposed duration (e.g., one week, two weeks).  All other viruses should be tested using coated carriers that were not subjected to the durability procedure.
      • Assessment of virucidal efficacy on the coated carriers should be conducted consistent with ASTM E1053, the standard method specified in EPA’s 810.2200 Efficacy Test Guideline.
      • Two lots of product at the LCL should be tested for the most difficult to kill virus.  Two lots of product at the nominal concentration should be tested for additional viruses.
        • To be considered as a supplement to List N, virus testing should include a non-enveloped virus or a human coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 or human coronavirus 229E).
  • Stainless steel carriers will be used to support claims for coatings on hard, nonporous surfaces.  Use sites should be limited to hard, non-porous surfaces.  Additional material types (e.g., porous materials or textiles) may be proposed by the registrant upon consultation with EPA prior to submission.
  • The recommended number of abrasions (touches) and cycles of exposure to cleaning or disinfecting chemicals are provided in the method to substantiate durability claims.  The method also specifies the chemical disinfecting solutions to simulate cycles of in-service disinfection and cleaning.  Additional details can be found in the method.
    • Ten cycles of abrasion and/or chemical exposure is equivalent to one week of durability.  The number of cycles can be increased in one-week increments to support claims up to four weeks.
    • If a product is incompatible with one or more of the test chemistries, this should be discussed with EPA in advance and may limit use sites and surfaces depending on the nature of the incompatibility.  EPA does not have a standard method for determining incompatibility.  This may be based on research and development data or known incompatibilities with the coating material, for example.
  • This protocol may be modified for films upon consultation with EPA in advance of submission.
  • If an applicant intends to claim supplemental residual effects longer than four weeks, it should consult with EPA in advance of submission.  EPA states that because the ongoing antimicrobial integrity of coatings and films will not be readily visible, it is important that end users have a reasonable expectation of durability.
  • Products should achieve a 99.9% reduction (3-log) for both bacteria and viruses in comparison to untreated controls within a maximum of two hours but not less than one hour, as EPA is concerned that observations taken before the inoculum has dried (e.g., less than one hour) on the surface may not provide an accurate assessment of the product.
    • The time to achieve performance begins at the time of inoculation.
  1. Antimicrobial Surface Coatings and Films -- Labeling and Additional Information

EPA states that this new category of antimicrobial products should be labeled as supplemental residual antimicrobial surfaces.  EPA provides the following additional information:

  • As these products do not meet the criteria for a disinfectant due to the longer contact time and lower performance standard, claims for residual disinfectant are not acceptable.  As above, contact times for disinfectants are ≤ 10 minutes and with a higher performance standard for bacteria.
  • Products should carry the following prominent label qualifier that they are a supplement to standard disinfection and cleaning:
    • “Although this product DOES NOT meet EPA’s standards for disinfectants, EPA has determined that, when used with an EPA-registered disinfectant, this product can provide some additional protection against [microorganism(s)] for up to X days. This product DOES NOT achieve the same level of efficacy as an EPA-registered disinfectant; it is only intended to provide supplemental protection between routine applications of EPA-registered disinfectants.”
  • For products eligible only for supplemental residual antimicrobial claims, EPA intends to require as a term of registration that the label and labeling state, “This product does not meet EPA’s efficacy standards to qualify as a stand-alone disinfectant.”
  • Although these products will not be eligible for List N, they will be eligible as a supplement to List N (N.1) to reflect that they are supplemental treatments (i.e., not stand-alone disinfectants) and intended for use in combination with List N disinfectants.
  • The following are example acceptable product label claims:
    • “Kills 99.9% of [insert microorganism/s] within two hours of exposure when used as part of a comprehensive infection control program/protocol for up to X days.”
    • “Continuously reduces [insert microorganism/s] within two hours of exposure when used as part of a comprehensive infection control program for up to X days.”
  1. Fixed/Solid Surfaces Including Solid Copper and Other Metals and Solid Impregnated Materials and Paints -- Method Recommendation

EPA states that these products should use EPA’s Draft Copper Surface Protocol for qualifying bacteria.  EPA provides the following additional information for products that wish to have virus claims added.

  • Test Organisms
    • Bacteria -- Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC No. 6538) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (ATCC No. 15442) are the qualifying bacteria used to support supplemental residual surface claims.
      • Testing should be conducted on three product lots per bacterium at the LCL.
    • To support claims for additional bacteria, testing should be conducted according to the method but with a reduced number of product lots.
      • Two lots of product for each bacterium at the nominal concentration.
    • Viruses -- All viruses for which claims are desired should be tested.  The most difficult to kill virus should be subjected to the durability assessment in the copper method, followed by the efficacy assessment.  All other viruses should be tested using test carriers that were not subjected to the durability procedure.
      • Assessment of virucidal efficacy on the coated carriers should be conducted consistent with ASTM E1053, the standard method specified in EPA’s 810.2200 Efficacy Test Guideline.
      • Two lots of product at the LCL should be tested for the most difficult to kill virus.  Two lots of product at the nominal concentration should be tested for additional viruses.
  • The recommended number of abrasions (touches) and cycles of exposure to cleaning or disinfecting chemicals are provided in the method in order to substantiate durability claims.  The method also specifies the chemical solutions to simulate cycles of disinfection and cleaning.
    • As the durability of these types of products can be readily observed, duration claims are not necessary.  This is consistent with currently registered copper-containing surface products and paints.
    • If a product is incompatible with one or more of the test chemistries, this should be discussed with EPA in advance and may limit use sites and surfaces, depending on the nature of the incompatibility.  EPA states that it does not have a standard method for determining incompatibility.  This may be based on research and development data or known incompatibilities with the coating material, for example.
  • This protocol can be modified for other metals or solid impregnated surfaces or paints upon consultation with EPA.
  • Products should achieve a 99.9% reduction (3-log) for both bacteria and viruses in comparison to untreated controls within two hours.
    • The time to achieve performance begins at the time of inoculation.
  1. Fixed/Solid Surfaces Including Solid Copper and Other Metals and Solid Impregnated Materials and Paints -- Labeling and Additional Information

EPA states that these products should be labeled as supplemental residual antimicrobial surfaces.  EPA states the following with regard to these products:

  • As these products do not meet the criteria for a disinfectant due to the longer contact time and lower performance standard, claims for residual disinfectant are not acceptable.
  • Products should carry the following prominent label qualifier that they are a supplement to standard disinfection and cleaning:
    • “Although this product DOES NOT meet EPA’s standards for disinfectants, EPA has determined that, when used with an EPA-registered disinfectant, this product can provide some additional protection against [microorganism(s)] for up to X days. This product DOES NOT achieve the same level of efficacy as an EPA-registered disinfectant; it is only intended to provide supplemental protection between routine applications of EPA-registered disinfectants.”
  • For products eligible only for supplemental residual antimicrobial claims, EPA intends to require as a term of registration that the label and labeling should state, “This product does not meet EPA’s efficacy standards to qualify as a stand-alone disinfectant.”
  • Although these products will not be eligible for List N, they will be eligible as a supplement to List N (N.1) to reflect that they are supplemental treatments (i.e., not stand-alone disinfectants) and intended for use in combination with List N disinfectants.  The following are example acceptable product label claims:
    • “Kills 99.9% of [insert microorganism/s] within two hours of exposure when used as part of a comprehensive infection control program/protocol.”
    • “Continuously reduces [insert microorganism/s] within two hours of exposure when used as part of a comprehensive infection control program.”
  1. Supplemental Residual Antimicrobial Products -- Stewardship Program

EPA intends to require, as a term of registration, that registrants of all supplemental residual antimicrobial products prepare and implement a written stewardship plan designed to support the responsible use of supplemental residual coatings and antimicrobial surface products.  Unlike conventional antimicrobial products, EPA believes that these products represent unique challenges that require timely feedback to ensure proper use and compatibility in combination with current infection control practices.  EPA expects that plans would be submitted for EPA review and approval during the registration process, or shortly thereafter (e.g., within two months after the registration date).  An approvable plan would address the proper sale (including advertising and promotional materials), distribution, and responsible use of the supplemental residual coatings and antimicrobial surface products.  EPA states that plans should include, at a minimum, the following elements:

  • Advertising and promotional materials that clearly and consistently include a disclaimer that the product does not meet EPA’s standards for disinfectants and is intended to supplement the use of EPA-registered disinfectants.
  • Outreach to the infection control community;
  • Customer feedback consisting of product issues/concerns, adverse events, compliance challenges/observations, and contraindications/adverse events gathered through quarterly registrant-initiated surveys, customer complaints, and suggestion boards; and
  • Development of a stewardship website.

EPA states further that “if EPA determines at any time following registration that the Plan is not being adequately or timely implemented or does not effectively ensure the product’s safe and effective use, the registration may be cancelled by the Agency.”  It is not clear from the statement whether EPA intends such a cancellation to be a term of the registration or whether it would be undertaken pursuant to the standard FIFRA cancellation procedures.


 
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This week's All Things Chemical™ Podcast will be of interest to readers of the Pesticide Law & Policy Blog®. A brief description of the episode written by Lynn L. Bergeson is below.

This week, I sat down with Lisa Campbell, my Partner here at Bergeson & Campbell (B&C®) and its consulting affiliate, The Acta Group (Acta®), and a well-recognized expert on all things regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).  With so much attention focused on registering new products to combat COVID-19, we thought it timely to check in again with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) and see what it is up to.  OPP has been extraordinarily busy since March keeping up with new products to combat the coronavirus and forging new ways of leveraging its resources while maximizing the public health benefits of these new products.

We also discuss the government’s heightened interest in ensuring that marketers of products -- new and existing -- are precluded from placing products on the market that EPA believes are not effective against COVID-19, when they are promoted as effective against the virus.  EPA has been quite aggressive in ensuring that products that claim to be effective in fact are effective.

We then update our listeners on a few other OPP developments unrelated to the pandemic, as OPP’s jurisdiction extends far beyond approving new products to address COVID-19.

ALL MATERIALS IN THIS PODCAST ARE PROVIDED SOLELY FOR INFORMATIONAL AND ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES.  THE MATERIALS ARE NOT INTENDED TO CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR THE PROVISION OF LEGAL SERVICES.  ALL LEGAL QUESTIONS SHOULD BE ANSWERED DIRECTLY BY A LICENSED ATTORNEY PRACTICING IN THE APPLICABLE AREA OF LAW.

©2020 Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.  All Rights Reserved

Tags: EPA, OPP, Podcast

 
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By Lisa R. Burchi and James V. Aidala

On October 6, 2020, the California Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee (DARTIC) announced it will be meeting on December 11, 2020, to discuss the possible developmental and reproductive toxicity (DART) of 22 chemical substances and chemical groups, including glyphosate and its salts, and three neonicotinoid pesticides (acetamiprid, clothianidin, and imidacloprid).  DARTIC is composed of scientists who advise California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) on the prioritization of chemicals for potential Proposition 65 (Prop 65) listing and identification of chemicals that have been shown through scientifically valid testing according to generally accepted principles to cause reproductive toxicity.

Public comments on the 22 substances will be accepted until November 16, 2020, and OEHHA will forward those comments to DARTIC members prior to its meeting. 

The full list of chemicals and chemical groups that DARTIC will discuss are:

  • Benzophenone-3;
  • Bisphenol S;
  • Diazinon;
  • Diethylphthalate;
  • Domoic acid;
  • Glyphosate and its salts;
  • Manganese;
  • Neonicotinoid pesticides;
    • Acetamiprid;
    • Clothianidin;
    • Imidacloprid;
    • Thiamethoxam;
  • Parabens;
    • Butyl paraben;
    • Isobutyl paraben;
    • Methyl paraben;
    • Propyl paraben;
  • Per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS);
    • Perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA);
    • Perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS);
    • Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA);
    • Perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnDA);
  • Titanium dioxide nanoparticles;
  • Vinpocetine; and
  • Zearalenone.

OEHHA’s document, Prioritization: Chemicals Identified for Consultation with the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee, presents information on these chemicals or chemical groups for DARTIC’s consideration.  Specifically, OEHHA states:  “For each, an initial, abbreviated appraisal of the scientific information identified through the screening-level literature search and the preliminary toxicological evaluation is presented.”  With regard to glyphosate and its salts, OEHHA provides “a brief overview of the relevant studies published within the last five years and those included in the Toxicological Profile for Glyphosate by ATSDR (ATSDR 2020) that were identified during the preliminary toxicological evaluation.”

No listing decisions will be made by DARTIC at the December meeting.  If OEHHA moves forward to propose to list any substances, it will separately issue a notice and seek public comments.

Discussion

The fact that OEHHA is seeking DARTIC’s review of glyphosate is particularly interesting, as glyphosate is already listed under Prop 65 based on a finding that glyphosate is a chemical known to cause cancer.  That listing is in jeopardy, however, based on a June 2020 court decision that prohibits OEHHA from requiring Prop 65 warnings because the basis for the listing, a determination by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that the glyphosate is “probably” carcinogenic to humans, is not consistent with the findings of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies.  Additional information regarding glyphosate’s Prop 65 listing is available here.  If OEHHA is not successful in its appeal of the court’s ruling and is successful in listing glyphosate based on its potential to cause developmental and reproductive toxicity effects, the result would be a new basis upon which to impose Prop 65 warning requirements.  At the same time, EPA’s registration review of glyphosate encompasses, in EPA’s view, a health risk assessment, which includes a pesticide’s potential risks of developmental and reproductive effects.  As a result, it is not clear if EPA’s arguments that its FIFRA labeling authority prohibits Prop 65 warnings also would apply to its registration review of health risks, which includes possible developmental and reproductive effects.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson, Lisa M. Campbell, and Carla N. Hutton

On October 14, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released much-anticipated draft guidance that will allow companies to demonstrate that their products have “long-lasting” or “residual” effectiveness on surfaces against viruses like SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.  As most know, EPA has not before now provided guidance on how stakeholders can demonstrate to EPA’s satisfaction that their product remains efficacious for periods of time, given the broad diversity of contact opportunities and scenarios.  Importantly, EPA states that pursuant to Title VII of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, it is providing notice of its intention to expedite reviews for addition of residual (i.e., extended or long-lasting) efficacy claims for currently registered or new product registrations that are on EPA’s Disinfectant List N, that would qualify for List N, or products that can be used as a residual supplement to disinfectants on List N.  The guidance specifies scientific testing requirements for two different types of products, supplemental residual antimicrobial products and residual disinfectants.  According to EPA, supplemental residual antimicrobial products work within two hours of a virus or bacteria coming into contact with a surface and can remain effective for weeks to years.  EPA notes that these products can supplement, but do not replace, routine cleaning and disinfection using products from EPA’s List N:  Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).  Approved supplemental residual antimicrobial products are not eligible for inclusion on List N, but EPA will add them to a separate List N appendix.

In addition to releasing the draft residual efficacy protocols, EPA has also released an updated draft testing protocol for evaluating a copper surface’s ability to kill bacteria and a draft protocol for evaluating the efficacy of antimicrobial surface coatings.  According to EPA, “[t]hese laboratory testing methods act as a foundation for EPA’s interim guidance to registrants regarding residual effectiveness.”

More information will be available in a forthcoming memorandum that will be available on our website.


 
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By Lisa M. Campbell, Lara A. Hall, MS, RQAP-GLP, and Heather F. Collins, M.S.

On October 7, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is requesting comments on its draft guidance that would allow registrants, in certain circumstances, to forgo testing chemicals on animal skin to determine whether a pesticide would lead to adverse effects.  This new draft guidance is part of EPA’s continued efforts to reduce animal testing and achieve its goal of eliminating all EPA requests for studies and EPA funding of studies on mammals by 2035.

According to EPA, the draft dermal toxicity guidance would allow applicants to request waivers for acute dermal toxicity studies on single-active ingredients used to develop end-use products.  The new draft guidance also allows EPA to harmonize with the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) of Canada, which published guidance on acute dermal toxicity waivers for both formulations and technical chemicals in 2017.  The draft guidance is in addition to the final guidance for waiving acute dermal toxicity tests published by EPA in November 2016 for pesticide formulations.

In developing the guidance, EPA states that it conducted a retrospective analysis of rat acute oral and acute dermal LD50 studies for 249 active ingredients across numerous chemical classes and toxicity categories.  Fumigants and rodenticides were excluded from this analysis, based on their physical state and/or anticipated exposures to them.  EPA concluded that for 67 percent of the 249 technical chemicals, the results of both oral and dermal acute toxicity studies fall within the same Toxicity Category.  For 32 percent of the chemicals, the oral study falls within a lower (i.e., more protective) Toxicity Category; thus, for 99 percent of the chemicals in the analysis, if the dermal study had not been available and labeling had been based only on the Toxicity Category for the oral acute toxicity study, the labeling requirements would have been equally or more protective.  For the two remaining chemicals (less than 1 percent), factors other than the dermal acute toxicity may influence labeling requirements.  EPA concluded that its requirements for such acute dermal toxicity studies provide little to no added value in regulatory decision making.  EPA states that this guidance, when finalized, is expected to reduce the number of test animals used annually by approximately 750, as well as save EPA, industry, and laboratory resources.

EPA states that it believes the retrospective analysis fully supports the conclusion that waivers may be granted for acute dermal toxicity studies for pesticide technical chemicals, except for fumigants and rodenticides.  Waivers may be accepted for fumigants and rodenticides on a case-by-case basis with appropriate scientific rationale.  Once the guidance is issued in final form, EPA states that applicants who wish to pursue waivers for these studies would submit formal waiver requests as part of the registration application through existing processes and cite the guidance as support for the requests.  EPA maintains the ability to request acute dermal toxicity data on a case-by-case basis, but states that it anticipates granting the waiver in most cases.

Comments on the draft guidance are due on or before November 9, 2020, and can be submitted at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0093.

EPA also announced the launch of its new webpage that provides metrics and strategies for reducing and replacing animal testing, including links and resources to all pertinent guidance and work plans tied to the larger Toxicology in the 21st Century Initiative across the federal government.  The directive, issued by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in September 2019, calls for EPA to reduce animal testing and to reduce funding 30 percent by 2025 and eliminate it by 2035.  EPA states that its actions to date to support these efforts include:

  • In September 2019, EPA announced $4.25 million in funding for five universities to research and develop alternative test methods for evaluating chemical safety.
  • In December 2019, EPA convened a conference for achieving reduced animal testing in chemical safety research and updated its list of New Approach Methodologies (NAM) that could be used in EPA’s work under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act, including adding 21 new test guidelines related to health and ecological effects and six additional EPA policies that reduce the use of animal testing.
  • In June 2020, EPA released a NAMs work plan that details how EPA plans to develop, test, and apply chemical safety testing approaches without the use of animals.
  • In February 2020, EPA issued final guidance waiving the subacute dietary testing of pesticides on birds when the additional information is unnecessary to support a pesticide registration decision, which is expected to save 720 test animals annually.
  • In July 2020, EPA announced new guidance to reduce unnecessary testing on fish, which is expected to save 240 test animals annually.

EPA will host its Second Annual Conference on the State of the Science on Development and Use of NAMs for Chemical Safety Testing virtually on October 19 and 20, 2020.  Additional information on EPA’s efforts to reduce animal testing is available here.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson, Lisa M. Campbell, and Carla N. Hutton

Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, wrote to Amazon Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chair Jeff Bezos on October 7, 2020, requesting that he launch an investigation into the safety of Amazon’s product line, AmazonBasics, and answer a series of questions pertaining to the company’s product safety and recall practices.  The Committee’s October 7, 2020, press release notes that the request comes after a CNN investigation found that many of AmazonBasics’ electronic products “have exploded, caught fire, sparked, melted, or otherwise created hazardous situations at rates well above comparable products.”  According to the press release, many of these products were never recalled and continue to be sold.

In addition to their request that Bezos initiate an investigation into the safety of AmazonBasics products, Pallone and Schakowsky also seek answers to a series of questions, including:

  • What Amazon-owned products are no longer for sale due at least in part to safety concerns?
  • What products -- both Amazon-owned and third party -- have been officially recalled?
  • What notification does Amazon provide to customers who have purchased products that are later recalled or found to be unsafe?
  • In addition to direct notification, what other kinds of consumer or public outreach does Amazon conduct to ensure consumers properly dispose of, repair, or replace an unsafe product?
  • How can consumers find information regarding recalled products? If information is not readily available, why not, and what plans exist to make it available?
  • How can consumers report product safety issues to Amazon?
  • How many staff does Amazon have devoted to ensuring that products sold on its platform follow all applicable laws and regulations, and that Amazon is in compliance with obligations to notify the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) when a product is suspected of being unsafe?

The letter requests a response no later than October 21, 2020.

The letter and request for answers to the questions noted above are another indication of the pressure certain Members in Congress are putting on Amazon to ensure the safety of the products the platform hosts.  Amazon is under increasing scrutiny by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in this regard, as reported in our February 16, 2018, and June 17, 2020, blog items, and this Congressional inquiry seems more of the same.  These efforts will almost certainly cause more pressure on product manufacturers to ensure the products they offer for sale on Amazon are compliant.


 
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