By James V. Aidala and Margaret R. Graham, M.S.
On March 21, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was updating its Residual Time to 25% Bee Mortality (RT25) Data Table with information it has collected since the table was first published in 2014. EPA states that the “RT25 data help farmers and beekeepers know about how long a specific pesticide may remain toxic to bees and other insect pollinators following foliar application to crops,” and the new data “reflect the results of studies the agency has analyzed as part of [its] routine pesticide regulatory activities.” One example that EPA provides regarding how this new data will work is that farmers can now “choose pesticides that quickly lose their toxicity to bees,” and that applying the products in the evening “helps ensure that by morning the pests have been dealt with and blooming crops are safe for bees.”
EPA states that RT25 values are a function of a number of factors including application rate, physical-chemical properties, dissipation, crop, and pesticide formulation. The values provided were compiled from registrant-submitted data submitted to fulfill the data requirement for Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Toxicity of Residues on Foliage study (OCSPP Guideline 850.3030). EPA states that the honey bee toxicity of residues on foliage study “is a laboratory test designed to determine the length of time over which field weathered foliar residues remain toxic to honey bees, or other species of terrestrial insects” and, depending on the chemical tested, “either the technical grade active ingredient or a specific formulation was tested using either the honey bee, alfalfa leaf cutting bee, or alkali bee.” The data table lists the test material, the species tested, and the plant species on which residues were aged.
EPA plans to update the table annually as it collects additional data going forward. More information on EPA’s actions intended to protect pollinators is available on EPA’s website.
In addition to providing the residual toxicity values, the table also illustrates the wide range of toxicity values among the various pesticides. RT25 times for the different active ingredients can range between a few and over 500 hours to reach the RT25 threshold. Even different formulations using the same active ingredient can have a significant difference in toxicity values. This illustrates the importance of reading the specific label instructions for a pesticide, even one that might be generally familiar to the user.
EPA’s publication of this information online also imposes a duty for EPA to continually update the table, especially to capture any changes in the information appearing in an earlier listing of the data. If, upon further review or later data submissions there are changes to the table for a product, EPA will need to alert users to potentially important changes in the information. Again, this illustrates the need for reading the label for each pesticide at the time of application, since some important information may have changed.
By Carla N. Hutton
On April 10, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of a draft Science Policy document intended to reduce the use of animals in testing chemicals to evaluate whether they cause an allergic reaction, inflammation, or sensitization of the skin. According to EPA, the document, Draft Interim Science Policy: Use of Alternative Approaches for Skin Sensitization as a Replacement for Laboratory Animal Testing, “describes the science behind the non-animal alternatives that can now be used (in vitro, in silico, in chemico) to identify skin sensitization.” The draft Science Policy states that the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) and Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) will immediately begin to accept submissions of new approach methodologies (NAM) and defined approaches (DA) as described in the draft Science Policy. EPA notes that there are multiple domestic and international activities ongoing that will allow for refinement and expansion of this draft Science Policy to other DAs and additional NAMs and support global harmonization of DAs for skin sensitization. According to the draft Science Policy, OPP and OPPT “will continue to be active participants in these activities to ensure regulatory acceptance and will continue to support cross-sector collaborations that enhance animal welfare, and accelerate the implementation of NAMs.” Comments on the draft Science Policy document must be submitted to Docket Number EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0093 by June 9, 2018.
The draft Science Policy is the result of national and international collaboration between the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods, the National Toxicology Program’s Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods, the European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing, and Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency.
By Lisa M. Campbell, Lisa R. Burchi, and James V. Aidala
On February 1, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is publishing new guidance that sets forth a tiered approach intended to help manufacturers and EPA determine when the number of field trials necessary to register seed treatment uses can be reduced.
In its memo and attached Seed-Treatment Focus Group (STFG) Guidance Document dated January 26, 2018, EPA states that its Health Effect Divison (HED) has received “multiple waiver requests for seed-treatment field-trial residue data and has reviewed multiple field-trial datasets that indicated that there was the potential to reduce the number of field trials required to support the registration of seed-treatment uses.” EPA states that to evaluate this hypothesis, the HED Chemistry Science Advisory Council (ChemSAC), in collaboration with the Health Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), in accordance with the July 11, 2017, Joint Canada/United States Field Trial Requirements “performed a retrospective analysis of all seed-treatment residue data that have been submitted to EPA/PMRA and has developed a tiered approach for determining if current crop-specific field trial data requirements are required to support new seed-treatment uses, or if a reduction in the number of required field trials is appropriate.” EPA’s announcement states that “the analysis showed that the data required to support registration could be substantially reduced and still be protective of human health.”
EPA developed two decision trees detailing the process for determining the residue chemistry field trial data requirements for seed-treatment uses: one for potato seed-piece (PSP) treatments only and another one for all remaining crops. EPA states that this case study demonstrates that application of the guidance set forth in these decision trees can, for both manufacturers and the agency, “potentially save considerable resources in terms of conducting, submitting, and reviewing the studies while still obtaining the data necessary to support seed-treatment pesticide registrations.”
The outlined procedure and memo document will supersede EPA’s previous guidance issued on October 28, 1999, entitled “Classification of Seed Treatments as Food or Nonfood Uses.”
More information is available on EPA’s Determining the Number of Field Trials Required to Register Seed-Treatment Uses webpage.
This announcement of improved review procedures allows EPA to cite both greater coordination across national borders (working with Canada), and reduce unnecessary data requirements. This would fit with the current Administration’s emphasis on reducing regulatory burdens and fostering greater innovation in regulated arenas. It also might be seen as general “good government,” as it updates guidance which is now almost twenty years old. Since seed treatment technology and associated policy issues have both evolved over the years, such a review and revision would seem timely regardless of any larger political directive.
By Heather F. Collins
On August 28, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the first of three feature and functionality updates to the Pesticide Submission Portal (PSP) expected this year. The portal is a web-based application allowing registrants to submit pesticide application packages to EPA electronically. The PSP application is accessed through EPA’s Central Data Exchange (CDX) Network which requires user registration.
This new PSP, version 1.4, release expands the feature to allow users to submit voluntary data related to specific registration review cases. Users can submit study citations, data matrices (Form 8570-35), cover letters and studies (protocols, study profiles, supplemental study data) using the new "Voluntary Submission" link on the PSP home page. This new release also allows users to resubmit previously submitted 90-day responses. Once a 90-day response or data submission has been successfully transmitted to the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP), users may now modify responses to data requirements, cite additional studies, upload additional documents, and change how the product registration is supported. EPA states: “This action is another step in a phased approach that will ultimately lead to EPA’s ability to accept all pesticide applications electronically, a move that will help modernize the pesticide registration process, increase operational efficiencies and reduce paper waste.” EPA indicates that in addition to these changes, this update introduces enhancements and bug fixes.
EPA also released the OPP Pesticide Submission Portal (PSP) User Guide Version 1.4 which provides detailed instructions on how to use the PSP application and guidance on how to prepare a package for electronic submission.
Applicants using PSP need not submit multiple electronic copies of any pieces of their applications; EPA states that the requirement to submit multiple copies of data in Pesticide Registration Notice 2011-3 is applicable only to paper submissions. Pesticide registrants who previously submitted information via paper, CD, or DVD may instead use the portal and forego the courier costs of sending to EPA.
More information about the Electronic Submissions of Pesticide Applications is available on EPA’s website.
By Lisa R. Burchi and Zameer Qureshi
On August 23, 2016, the European Chemicals Agency’s (ECHA) Board of Appeal (BoA) adopted its first decision on a data sharing dispute under the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR).
Thor GmbH (Thor) lodged the appeal in 2015 after ECHA granted permission to a company to cite studies owned by Thor for the substance reaction mass of 5-chloro-2-methyl-2H-isohtiazol-3-one and 2-methyl-2H-isothiazol-3-one (CIT/MIT). According to ECHA, Thor had insisted on a technical equivalence assessment of its substance with the other company’s active substance to check if the companies’ substances had similar chemical composition and hazard profiles. ECHA stated this was not required under BPR and data owners “do not have the right to demand any form of similarity check as a prerequisite for getting a letter of access.”
The BoA ruled in favor of Thor, which raised five pleas in law, as the companies had mutually agreed to perform a technical equivalence assessment before sharing data. The BoA concluded that while ECHA “might be correct” in concluding that the technical equivalence assessment is not a legal requirement for data sharing under BPR, “this legal observation cannot constitute an assessment of the parties’ efforts to reach an agreement within the meaning of Article 63.” The BoA stated “it is part of the Appellant’s and the prospective applicant’s contractual freedom to insert a clause relating to a technical equivalence assessment in the data sharing agreement.”
The BoA also reviewed the negotiations between the parties to determine whether those parties make every effort to reach an agreement, and found that ECHA “did not consider all the relevant facts in a balanced manner when assessing whether every effort had been made by Appellant and the prospective applicant under Article 63.” The BOA found that ECHA disregarded some of Thor’s efforts based on its legal conclusion that there was no need to perform a technical equivalence assessment. Consequently, the BoA concluded that Thor had made every effort to reach an agreement with the other company and ECHA had failed to consider all the facts of the case.
Although ECHA’s decision was annulled, there remains a question whether a new decision is required. Since the BoA’s decision, the prospective applicant submitted a successful application under Article 95, which may negate the need for the prospective applicant to cite to Thor’s data. The case was remanded to ECHA to determine whether a new decision is required.
by James V. Aidala
The threat of the Zika Virus grows every day, and the need for clear information is especially pressing if you are pregnant. How do you prevent getting infected with the Zika Virus, and what insect repellents are best? The first question is easy to answer: public health experts agree that women who are pregnant or who might be pregnant should use insect repellents. The answer to the second question is not so simple.
I am a former senior official at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and familiar with how the U.S. evaluates and approves pesticides, which include insect repellents. It is not easy for the average consumer to know what works and what does not work. Unfortunately, EPA policies have made this question much more complicated, having made important distinctions between some “natural”-type repellents and other products available in the marketplace.
Years ago, EPA de-regulated a number of natural, non-toxic materials from being subject to the registration requirements of the federal pesticide law (the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act). This made sense at the time since garlic, pepper, rotten eggs, vinegar, and other common chemicals are sometimes used as pesticides. Before de-regulation, these products were also subject to the same requirements as synthetic chemical pesticides with long unpronounceable names (e.g., diethyltoluamide, better known as DEET) which EPA requires to have volumes of efficacy and safety test data. Being natural does not mean a substance is non-toxic; some natural ingredients are fully evaluated and widely used. But in the interest of efficient use of resources EPA issued a list of products that could be sold as pesticides, but would not be subject to EPA data requirements and review (EPA calls them “minimum risk pesticides”).
This list of pesticides which are not subject to EPA evaluation, and which are not required to have data which proves they are effective, includes a number of botanical ingredients, such as oil of citronella, geranium, rosemary, peppermint, and many others. Many of these products can be used as pesticides -- some may work better than others -- and many work for the intended use (example: rotten eggs, or as EPA refers to them -- “putrescent whole egg solids” -- are used as a deer repellent).
Many of these ingredients have been marketed as “natural” insect repellents, and labeled as “safe” or “non-toxic” using words that will not appear on products where EPA reviews and approves the instructions on the product label.
Here is the bureaucratic distinction which matters greatly to EPA, but will not be understood by consumers:
- If the repellant label includes “public health claims” -- that it repels mosquitoes that may cause a disease (like Zika Virus or West Nile Virus) -- then the product has to have data showing that it works;
- If the product just says “repels mosquitoes,” it is not required to have data that shows it is effective, and may very well be ineffective.
Few, if any, humans outside of EPA label experts realize this important distinction: if there is no health claim on the label, then it is, in effect, a situation of “buyer beware.”
What remains: EPA’s deregulation of these products means it is legal to sell products which do not work, as long as the ingredients appear on the EPA minimum risk pesticides list.
Consumer Reports (CR) recently reported in May of this year on studies conducted on repellents. Their results:
- Using a “natural” mosquito repellent, with active ingredients such as citronella or clove, lemongrass, or rosemary oils, might seem like a good idea, especially if you’re pregnant or planning to be.
- But five of the six plant-based repellents we tested…lasted one hour or less against Aedes mosquitoes, the kind that can spread Zika.
Not all repellents with the same ingredient are equally effective, and they found that some formulations of the chemical repellents also do not work for very long in their tests. Some botanical pesticides are effective and have the public health claims on the label (example: lemon eucalyptus, a botanical ingredient not on the exempt product list, and CR testing did find it to be effective).
To reduce confusion about what works, EPA for years has struggled to correct the situation by trying to impose changes to the requirements for insect repellents.
Unfortunately, to end the confusion about the difference between “repels mosquitoes” and “repels mosquitoes that can cause the Zika Virus,” EPA has to conduct a rulemaking which requires a long and bureaucratic process to complete. The good news is that EPA is working on such a solution. The bad news is that they have been working on it for almost ten years and they still have more work to do. There are details and petitions and proposals and reasons why it has taken so long, but it is the kind of story that gives bureaucracy a bad name.
With the onset and fears about the Zika Virus, however, EPA should make the needed changes immediately to ensure that consumers are not misled into using products which are not proven effective in repelling mosquitoes.
From a consumer’s point of view, it really is that simple. Legally, it is more complicated. In the meantime, EPA should be loud and clear in its communication about the distinction, even if they cannot take immediate action to reduce the confusion.
By Lisa M. Campbell and Sheryl L. Dolan
On June 2, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) and Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) released harmonized product chemistry templates for use by registrants when submitting pesticide registration packages.
These templates were developed by EPA and PMRA under the United States -- Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) workplan. EPA stated that the templates are based on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Harmonized Templates for Reporting Chemical Test Summaries’ format, “but have been streamlined to address a single product/application and will facilitate the review of product chemistry data for global and joint registrations, as well as other actions.” EPA and PMRA are encouraging applicants to begin using these templates to organize and summarize the product chemistry data for each product and/or registration package that is submitted to EPA and PMRA.
More information on these templates is available in the RCC’s Work Planning Format document.
By Lisa M. Campbell and Timothy D. Backstrom
On March 8, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice in the Federal Register stating that the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) will hold a three-day meeting scheduled for April 19-21, 2016, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EDT) to consider and review Chlorpyrifos: Analysis of Biomonitoring Data. The meeting will be held at EPA’s Conference Center, Lobby Level, One Potomac Yard (South Bldg.), 2777 S. Crystal Drive, Arlington, Virginia 22202. The meeting will be webcast. More information will be posted online.
The notice states that written comments are encouraged through April 5, 2016, and that requests for oral comments are encouraged to be submitted by April 12, 2016, but that both may be submitted until the date of the meeting. Nominations of candidates to serve as ad hoc members of FIFRA SAP for the meeting are requested on or before March 23, 2016.
In this meeting, EPA states that it will solicit comment from FIFRA SAP on the evaluation of biomonitoring data using the physiologically-based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model, proposed points of departure and extrapolation/uncertainty factors, and examples of a proposed approach to use the PBPK model to simulate internal doses of chlorpyrifos from current exposure patterns from drinking water, food, and worker exposure. The FIFRA SAP has been reviewing the human health effects of chlorpyrifos since 2008. The notice states that “at this point in time, the Agency’s analysis of biomonitoring data from the cord blood collected as part of the Columbia University epidemiology studies has progressed to a point where peer review would be useful” and that “[s]pecifically, the Agency has done additional characterization of the pharmacokinetic profile of simulated exposures from oral and dermal exposures using the PBPK model.”
The notice states that in 2008 and 2012, the FIFRA SAP “cautioned EPA against using the biomonitoring data from epidemiology studies … to directly derive points of departure due to uncertainties associated with a lack of knowledge about timing of indoor chlorpyrifos applications and a single measure of exposure (cord blood).” The 2012 FIFRA SAP recommended that EPA use the PBPK model to further characterize the dose estimates in the epidemiology studies.
The notice states that EPA would have preferred to complete its analysis of the available biomonitoring prior to commencing rulemaking, but that the timing for the proposal was directed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which ordered EPA to respond to an administrative petition to revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances by October 31, 2015.
More information on the Ninth Circuit case is available in our blog item Circuit Court Grants Writ of Mandamus Requiring EPA to Act on Petition to Ban Chlorpyrifos.
EPA’s decision to utilize biomonitoring data that was collected as part of the Columbia University epidemiology studies for chlorpyrifos to derive proposed points of departure for risk assessment purposes will be highly controversial. If EPA proceeds to use biomonitoring data from epidemiological studies to derive points of departure for risk assessment purposes, the implications for all pesticide product risk assessments could be significant. Whether EPA can defensibly do so from both a scientific and legal standpoint is a subject that will likely be debated strongly. All pesticide registrants should monitor these developments closely.
By Timothy D. Backstrom, Lisa M. Campbell, and James V. Aidala
In an opinion issued on September 10, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) unconditional registration for the pesticide sulfoxaflor and remanded the matter to EPA to obtain further studies and data regarding the effects of sulfoxaflor on bees and bee colonies. Sulfoxaflor is a new insecticide in the class of insecticides referred to as neonicotinoids, but its mechanism of action is distinct from other neonicotinoids. The Petitioners in this case were various trade organizations representing commercial beekeepers, as well as some individual beekeepers. The registrant Dow AgroSciences LLC (Dow) intervened in the action.
EPA granted an unconditional registration for sulfoxaflor on May 6, 2013, subject to a variety of risk mitigation measures, including a lower application rate, longer intervals between applications, and certain crop-specific label restrictions. EPA had previously proposed to issue a conditional registration for sulfoxaflor in January 2013, citing pollinator data gaps that could be addressed by requiring Dow to conduct and submit further studies. Under that proposal, use of sulfoxaflor would have been allowed at a reduced application rate during the time needed to complete data development. The court found that the subsequent decision by EPA to register unconditionally sulfoxaflor was not supported by substantial evidence, as required by Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 16(b), both because EPA failed to adhere to its own scientific methodology and because the rationale that EPA provided for granting an unconditional registration could not be reconciled with the analysis upon which EPA based its prior proposal to register conditionally sulfoxaflor.
EPA evaluated the potential risk to bees and bee colonies from sulfoxaflor use utilizing the Pollinator Risk Assessment Framework, a scientific risk assessment methodology developed after consultations between EPA, Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency, and the State of California, and presented by EPA to the FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel in 2012. The court found that the rationale provided for EPA’s unconditional registration decision could not be reconciled with findings that EPA itself made using this methodology or with the rationale EPA provided for its prior proposal to issue a conditional registration. EPA had decided it was necessary to proceed to Tier 2 of the pollinator risk assessment after reviewing risk quotients and residue data in Tier 1 of the assessment. EPA found the available data for Tier 2 to be insufficient to allow indefinite use of sulfoxaflor, even at a reduced application rate. The court could not reconcile this finding with the subsequent decision to grant an unconditional registration, even with the specified mitigation measures. The court found that “given the precariousness of bee populations, leaving the EPA’s registration of sulfoxaflor in place risks more potential environmental harm than vacating it.” The court stated that “EPA has no real idea whether sulfoxaflor will cause unreasonable adverse effects on bees, as prohibited by FIFRA.”
EPA argued that with a reduced application rate, the risk quotients and residue analysis in Tier 1 was “close enough” to sufficient to avoid the specified quantitative trigger for a Tier 2 analysis, thereby rendering any deficiencies in the available Tier 2 data irrelevant. The court effectively stated in response that close enough is not good enough, citing another recent Ninth Circuit decision in which a risk concern that is triggered by a margin of exposure less than or equal to 1000 was held to be triggered when the margin was exactly 1000. Thus, this court once again placed EPA on notice that it must follow its own methodology with precision, and that EPA cannot justify deviations from its own methodology by simply stating that it is exercising expert judgment.
This is an unusual case because the registration of a new pesticidal active ingredient has been vacated on substantive as opposed to procedural grounds. The court’s rationale reflects a lack of judicial deference to what EPA typically refers to as the scientific “weight of the evidence.” While the term itself does not appear in the opinion, the court is insisting that EPA must follow its standard methodology without allowing for any deviations based on professional judgment. Although in this instance the court has supported the position of opponents of pesticide use, judicial reluctance to accept scientific “weight of the evidence” conclusions could also make it harder for EPA to impose additional restrictions when new but inconclusive evidence appears.
This case could cause EPA to be more explicit in adding procedures to its standard analytic methodologies that allow deviations from the methodology based on professional judgment. The case could also cause EPA to reconsider its recent reluctance to avoid issuing conditional registrations and its preference for unconditional registrations for new active ingredients. In any case, decisions that afford EPA less discretion to use “weight of the evidence” reasoning when basing scientific conclusions on less than conclusive data or studies could have an impact on a number of EPA practices and policies involving interpretation of scientific data.
By Lisa M. Campbell and Lisa R. Burchi
On July 24, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Federal Register notice extending the public comment period regarding its proposed Antimicrobial Pesticides Use Site Index (USI) from July 31, 2015 to August 31, 2015. The initial Federal Register notice announcing the availability of EPA’s guidance on the USI was issued on July 1, 2015.
By way of background, in 2014, EPA issued a final rule on Data Requirements for Antimicrobial Pesticides amending the regulations setting forth the data requirements that support an application to register a pesticide product. The final rule contains the data requirements specifically applicable to antimicrobial pesticides that were codified in 40 C.F.R. Part 158, subpart W. The final rule lists 12 antimicrobial use patterns in 40 C.F.R. § 158.2201. The data requirements applicable to a pesticide product depend in part on the product’s use pattern. The general use patterns are broad designations, and are used as columns in the antimicrobial data requirements tables to identify which data requirements might be pertinent to the particular pesticide use site.
EPA has developed the USI to assist antimicrobial pesticide applicants and registrants and to assist EPA staff to identify the use pattern that applies to a pesticide product, and thus the data requirements that must be met to register the product. EPA states that the USI serves as a compilation of the specific use sites that are commonly listed on antimicrobial labels and links these commonly listed use sites with the twelve general use patterns.
The posting of this proposed guidance document for public comment is intended to satisfy a condition of the March 2, 2015, settlement agreement between EPA and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) that followed ACC’s July 2013 initiation of a legal challenge to the data requirements regulation in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
In addition to extending the comments, EPA also published in the docket a Question and Answer document on the USI Webinar for questions submitted to EPA prior to the July 14, 2015, webinar. Additional information regarding the USI is available in EPA Docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0302.