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

On October 15, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has revised its guidance for evaluating the efficacy of antimicrobial pesticides against Candida auris (C. auris). EPA states that pesticide manufacturers seeking to register their products with a C. auris claim should use this updated guidance to test the effectiveness of the products against a drug-resistant strain of C. auris.

EPA states that C. auris is an emerging, multidrug-resistant yeast (a type of fungus). It can cause serious infections and spreads easily among hospitalized patients and nursing home residents. C. auris can spread in healthcare settings through contact with contaminated environmental surfaces or equipment, or from person to person. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one in three patients with an invasive (e.g., affecting the blood, heart, or brain) C. auris infection die.

In 2017, in consultation with the CDC, EPA issued interim guidance for testing the effectiveness of hospital disinfectants against C. auris. Subsequently, based on input from the CDC on its tracking of clinical cases of multi-drug resistant C. auris isolates in the United States, the laboratory data were generated to ensure antimicrobial efficacy against a more relevant strain of the pathogen.

Working closely with experts from the CDC, EPA conducted a comparative evaluation of isolates and found that the drug-resistant isolates were more tolerant to some disinfectant treatments. Since a drug-resistant isolate (AR Bank #0385) is highly relevant to current outbreaks in the United States, it is considered a suitable test microbe for regulatory purposes.

The guidance provides recommendations for laboratory methodology on how to:

  1. produce and store cultures of drug-resistant C. auris, and
  2. evaluate the effectiveness of antimicrobial products intended to treat surfaces contaminated with drug-resistant C. auris.

Under the updated guidance, all new products seeking registration with claims against C. auris should test for efficacy using the more relevant strain (AR Bank #0385). Efficacy testing using AR Bank #0381 is acceptable in some cases where the study initiation date is between October 15, 2020, and October 15, 2021. For study initiation dates between October 15, 2020, and October 15, 2021, EPA will accept studies conducted with isolate AR Bank #0381 for products whose active ingredients are either sodium hypochlorite or hydrogen peroxide plus acetic acid. For products with other active ingredients, it will be necessary to retest using isolate AR Bank #0385.

Existing antimicrobial products with C. auris claims based on the previous strain (AR Bank #0381) will be allowed to retain their claim of effectiveness against C. auris. To claim effectiveness against drug-resistant C. auris, EPA requires retesting with the more relevant strain (AR Bank #0385) identified in the updated guidance and according to the revised test method.


 

By James V. Aidala

In early July 1996, I was returning on a flight from Amman, Jordan, wondering what kind of negotiation we in the Clinton Administration faced in completing the legislative text of what became the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA). (I had been asked to go to Jordan to visit the Jordanian pesticide regulatory program by a friend who was a senior official at the State Department. The result of my visit may have played a very, very small role in the Middle East peace process -- but that is another story for another time).

Some weeks earlier, I had been approached by Congressional staff members whom I knew from my previous job at the Congressional Research Service (CRS) as the subject area expert on the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and pesticide regulation. I joined the Clinton Administration as a political deputy in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances (OPPTS, now renamed as the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP)). Dr. Lynn Goldman was the Assistant Administrator who had recruited me to join the efforts to reform, that is, modernize, the Delaney Clause of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). Over the years since it was enacted in 1958, risk assessment methods and our understanding of possible cancer risks had changed greatly.

Setting the Context

In 1989, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report on “The Delaney Paradox,” examining how the Delaney Clause ironically prevented safer new pesticides from entering the market. After an important court decision (Les v. Riley), EPA was told that even if it was undesirable public policy, the law can only be changed by Congress. As EPA went along with its work, many feared that numerous pesticides might be forced off the market even if, using modern evaluation policies, they presented little risk or were in fact safer than the alternatives.

During this time, advocacy groups were concerned that the then-current law was not protective enough of the possible risks to children’s diets. A simple way to say this is, for purposes of risk assessment: “Children are not little adults,” and supporters emphasized that dietary risk assessments by EPA should pay special attention to possible children’s risk given differences in metabolism, growth stages, and other important physiological characteristics.

This led to another National Academy of Sciences report in 1994 on “Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children,” which recommended that pesticide regulation include particular attention and possibly greater regulation of estimated dietary risks from pesticides. Given that the new Assistant Administrator of OPPTS was Dr. Lynn Goldman, a pediatrician, this concern was a priority for the Clinton Administration.

“The Gingrich Revolution”

A less noticed irony, but also important to the history of FQPA, is the change in party control of the House of Representatives, led by Representative Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and the “Contract with America” during the 1994 elections. Unexpectedly, the Republicans had the majority in the House for the first time in 40 years, and they elected Representative Gingrich Speaker of the House.

Much longer stories have been and will be written, but shortly after taking power in the House in January 1995, the Republicans were viewed as letting lobbyists run amok -- even suggesting amendments to environmental laws while lobbyists were sitting on the dais of Committee meetings. By the end of 1995 and going into an election year in 1996, “word was” the leadership, at least on the House Energy and Commerce Committee -- chaired by Representative Thomas Bliley (R-VA) -- was looking for a “green vote” to offset the image of an anti-environment House majority. Led by staff from the office of Chair Bliley and Representative John Dingell (D-MI), who was the senior Democrat on the Committee, a draft of a compromise bill was floated and made its way to my office at EPA.

Meantime, during the previous Congress (103rd Congress, 1993 - 1994), a team of EPA staff, led by Jim Jones (a later even more famous name in EPA pesticide regulation) of the Assistant Administrator’s office, along with staff from the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) and the Office of General Counsel (OGC), and staff from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (it takes a village), had developed a Clinton Administration bill that did not gather much support during 1994. The legislation did have the core concepts of “fixing Delaney” and including the “reasonable certainty of no harm” standard, and it incorporated strong protections about possible risks from residues in the diets of infants and children.

In the new Congress (the 104th), there was some action during 1995 in the House Agriculture Committee on FIFRA issues related to antimicrobial products, minor uses of pesticides, and ways to prod the registration process to become more predictable and timely (this was before the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA)). The FIFRA amendments were not viewed as controversial and were successfully discussed between both sides of the aisle (the Agriculture Committees were much more bipartisan in those days). By itself, that package was not likely to make it through the legislative gauntlet, given the shift in political power on the Hill.

Also in 1995, Carol Browner (the EPA Administrator) cautioned us that successful bipartisan legislation was unlikely, so not much effort should be invested, given other priorities.

The key event came in the late spring of 1996, when we first saw a draft of the legislation floated by the staff of Representatives Bliley and Dingell. It was far from perfect, but it included the core elements of what the Administration had proposed in the previous Congress. Since that earlier bill had been drafted with the coordination of EPA, FDA, and USDA, if it had the essential ingredients, we thought it might be a viable vehicle for further discussion. We also sought comment from some of the influential environmental groups that had been disappointed in the Administration’s legislation in the previous Congress. Suffice it to say, inclusion of the core elements of a tough standard (reasonable certainty of no harm) and special protections regarding children’s diets made the proposals a “possible” vehicle for further discussion.

We also started to have discussions with the staff of Representative Waxman (D-CA) in the House and Senator Kennedy (D-MA). Representative Waxman was the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee, and Senator Kennedy was the ranking Democrat on the Labor Committee, which had jurisdiction over the FFDCA.

Back to July 1996

To shorten the story, we had intense, long meetings with the various interested parties -- pesticide registrants; environmental groups; trade associations; agency staff at EPA, FDA, and USDA; Congressional staff from the authorizing Committees; and Administration leaders within the agencies and the White House. In an amazingly short time, we came to agreement over the text, which is now FQPA. Representatives Waxman and Roberts (R-KS -- Chair of the House Agriculture Committee) held a press event about the historic compromise -- even more historic since the two Representatives rarely agreed on significant legislation. Their joint endorsement and statement of support signaled to members of both parties on both sides of Capitol Hill that this was an unusual, and important, compromise. The Congressional staff then recognized the next hurdle: the August recess was approaching fast, and if not enacted into law by then, the delay could be fatal, or at least make matters more complicated, as the multitude of interest groups would likely pick apart and want further changes to the agreement that had been reached. So the rush was on to get the “green vote” to the floor of the House and Senate.

Some last-moment hiccups took a little more time. Senator Lugar (R-IN), the Senate Agriculture Committee Chair, wanted a hearing to at least review the legislation. This was not a huge hurdle, but finding time on the floor was a race against the clock before the August recess. The House was the first to vote on July 23, 1996. The bill was approved with a surprising unanimous roll call vote in the majority Republican House (the vote was 417-0 with 16 not voting). Unanimous bipartisan support! -- imagine that in today’s world.

Then, with a sprinkling of clarifying (that is, reassuring) pieces of correspondence, the Senate agreed to the House legislation under unanimous consent. (In fact, for any trivia nuts out there, if you watch the C-SPAN video of how long the Senate deliberation lasted at the end of the day on July 24, 1996 -- the request for unanimous consent and agreement clocks in under 30 seconds.)

So with unanimous support in both the House and the Senate, FQPA was approved.

One Last Step

One very important last step was needed before FQPA became law -- the President needed to sign the legislation. That happened at the White House when H.R. 1627 was signed by President Clinton on August 3, 1996.

Tags: FIFRA, FQPA, FFDCA

 

By Kelly N. Garson and Barbara A. Christianson

On August 25, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it issued a penalty against Seychelle Environmental Technologies, Inc. (Seychelle), based in Aliso Viejo, California, for violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The violations, which EPA states that Seychelle has since corrected, involved the sale of unregistered antimicrobial products and the manufacture of products in an unregistered establishment.

According to EPA, in 2017 and 2018, Seychelle sold a collection of related water filtration products known as the “Seychelle Standard Filter” and the “Seychelle Advanced Filter.” EPA states that these Seychelle filter products made “numerous” antimicrobial claims, and thus under FIFRA, EPA considered these products to be pesticides that must be registered with EPA. Additionally, under FIFRA, pesticide manufacturers must register their facilities with EPA as establishments and annually report their pesticide production. Since Seychelle’s water filter products were not produced in an EPA-registered establishment, EPA determined there was another FIFRA violation. Based on the sale or distribution of an unregistered pesticide and the unregistered establishment, EPA assessed a penalty to Seychelle in the amount of $150,000 (USD).


 

By James V. Aidala, Lisa R. Burchi, and Barbara A. Christianson

On August 18, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will stop the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on all food. In the pre-publication of the Federal Register notice released on August 19, 2021, EPA revoked all “tolerances” for chlorpyrifos, which establish an amount of a pesticide that is allowed on food. In addition, EPA states that it will issue a Notice of Intent to Cancel under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to cancel registered food uses of chlorpyrifos associated with the revoked tolerances. EPA has stated the cancellation order will follow in approximately six months after the tolerance revocations.

EPA’s announcement responds to the Ninth Circuit’s order, issued on April 29, 2021, that vacated EPA orders issued in 2017 and 2019 denying a 2007 petition filed by Pesticide Action Network North America and Natural Resources Defense Council. That petition requested that EPA revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances, or the maximum allowed residue levels in food, because those tolerances were not safe, in part due to the potential for neurodevelopmental effects in children. The 2017 and 2019 orders denying the 2007 petition were challenged in the Ninth Circuit by a coalition of farmworker, health, environmental, and other groups.

In its order, the Ninth Circuit found that “...EPA had abdicated its statutory duty under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) ...” to “conclude, to the statutorily required standard of reasonable certainty, that the present tolerances caused no harm.” After vacating the 2017 and 2019 orders, the court remanded the matter to EPA with instructions to: “(1) grant the 2007 Petition; (2) issue a final regulation within 60 days following issuance of the mandate that either (a) revokes all chlorpyrifos tolerances or (b) modifies chlorpyrifos tolerances and simultaneously certifies that, with the tolerances so modified, the EPA ‘has determined that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue, including all anticipated dietary exposures and all other exposures for which there is reliable information,’ including for ‘infants and children’; and (3) modify or cancel related FIFRA registrations for food use in a timely fashion consistent with the requirements of 21 U.S.C. § 346a(a)(1).”

In its announcement, EPA states that it has determined that the current aggregate exposures from the use of chlorpyrifos do not meet the legally required safety standard that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from such exposures. Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide used for a large variety of agricultural uses and has been continually reviewed with regard to potential adverse effects, including possible neurological effects in children, which has been the subject of considerable controversy for many years. EPA’s announcement notes that a number of other countries, including the European Union and Canada, and some states, including California, Hawaii, New York, Maryland, and Oregon, have taken similar action to restrict the use of this pesticide on food.

EPA states its action also will be incorporated into the ongoing registration review for chlorpyrifos. EPA is continuing to review the comments submitted on the chlorpyrifos proposed interim decision, draft revised human health risk assessment, and draft ecological risk assessment. These documents are available in the chlorpyrifos registration review docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0850 at www.regulations.gov and a discussion of these issues is available on our blog here.

After considering public comments, EPA will proceed with its registration review of the remaining non-food uses of chlorpyrifos by issuing the interim decision, which may consider additional measures to reduce human health and ecological risks.

Commentary

Separate from any issues of science, evidence, or interpretation, the FFDCA’s channels of trade provision is designed to address what happens if EPA cancels a pesticide product for not meeting Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) standards and then revokes the tolerance. EPA’s initial description of its decision was unclear on this important point regarding the status of food already in the channels of trade that may contain chlorpyrifos residues.

EPA statements at an August 18, 2021, phone briefing with agricultural stakeholders appeared to present a position that the tolerance revocations would be in effect immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. This implied that there may be an immediate revocation of the tolerances before any parallel action to cancel the associated pesticide registrations. The pre-publication version of the notice clarified that the revocation of chlorpyrifos tolerances would not become effective until six months after the publication of the notice in the Federal Register.  As of August 24, 2021, the notice has not been published in the Federal Register.

This revocation delay of six months aligns with the statement also made by EPA to cancel the registration of chlorpyrifos food use products six months after the revocation notice. EPA may face questions from some of the groups that have been advocating for this type of EPA action concerning why, if these tolerances need to be revoked, the use of the pesticide will continue in effect for the remainder of this growing season. Ed Messina, Office Director of the Office of Pesticide Programs, made a glancing reference to this at the phone conference when he stated EPA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are “having discussions.” 

According to EPA, use of chlorpyrifos has been in decline due to restrictions at the state level and reduced production. EPA also notes that some alternatives have been registered in recent years for most crops, other chemistries and insect growth regulators are available for certain target pests, and that EPA is committed to reviewing replacements for and alternatives to chlorpyrifos. Some growers, however, are using registered chlorpyrifos products on food crops and hoped to be able to continue certain uses. 

EPA states in the pre-publication notice that some uses in certain areas appear to be able to meet the FQPA standard as evaluated in its 2016 and 2020 risk assessment documents, even if including the full 10x FQPA “extra” safety factor (these assessments are the reference documents EPA cites in its revocation notice). EPA further states that the Ninth Circuit’s order did not provide EPA with time to consider further changes to the use patterns or label restrictions to align with such changes hinted at in the revocation notice, and so EPA is issuing the revocation decision now. This begs the question of whether EPA might consider some continued uses in the future, although even considering any “new” tolerance would be very controversial.

In addition, none of the current actions affect (for now) the tolerances for stored grains using the sister chemical (chlorpyrifos-methyl) with a similar toxicological profile. There also are non-food use applications of chlorpyrifos, for example, mosquito control application of chlorpyrifos sprayed over a large area, that are not affected by the tolerance revocation.

This mix of messages may not be easy to explain to users and the consuming public. 

Issues regarding the timing of the revocations and continued uses are also likely to present challenges for FDA. For example, there are various blended commodities (e.g., animal feed grain, possibly co-mingling harvests from different times) where FDA may be unable to determine what part of any enforcement sample came from a particular date of use.

The orderly transition for treated commodities was designed to avoid public and grower confusion that characterized the episodes of StarLink corn chaos in 2000 or the Cheerios contamination incident in 1994 involving a reported over 100 million boxes of cereal that were eventually destroyed. EPA cites international trade obligations as another reason for the coordinated actions effective in six months to notify foreign trading partners with a “reasonable interval” for adjusting to a changed regulatory situation.

Additional information on chlorpyrifos is available on our blog.


 

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

On August 17, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is now accepting official Foreign Purchaser Acknowledgement Statements (FPAS) and FPAS annual summaries through the Central Data Exchange Pesticide Submission Portal (CDX PSP). EPA states this improved process allows for pesticide exporters to submit an FPAS electronically rather than physically mailing them, providing a key flexibility during the COVID-19 public health emergency. According to the Federal Register notice, an FPAS may be submitted using CDX PSP as of August 18, 2021.  86 Fed. Reg. 46246.

Pesticides intended solely for export from the U.S. to a foreign country are not required to be registered in the U.S., but exporters must submit an FPAS to EPA to comply with requirements under Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 17(a)(2). An FPAS includes critical information about the pesticide intended for export, which EPA uses to notify the Designated National Authority of the importing country.

Exporters have two options for complying with FIFRA Section 17(a) and 40 C.F.R. Section 168.75 through submission of an FPAS to EPA: per-shipment reporting and annual reporting.

Per-Shipment Reporting: To comply with requirements for per-shipment reporting, the exporter must provide EPA with the signed purchaser acknowledgement statement and the accompanying certification for each export within seven working days of the exporter’s receipt of the signed statement or by the date of export (whichever occurs first). The exporter must continue to submit this documentation prior to each shipment.

Annual Reporting: The exporter must submit a signed per-shipment purchaser acknowledgement statement for the first shipment each calendar year of an unregistered pesticide product to a particular purchaser and an annual summary of shipments to that purchaser. This FPAS should indicate that the exporter is choosing to provide an annual summary and certifying that the shipment in the FPAS was the first of the calendar year.  When using the annual reporting option, the exporter is required to submit an annual report for each unregistered pesticide exported within the preceding calendar year. The exporter must submit the annual summary no later than March 1 of the following calendar year.

The annual summary report must be in writing, signed by the exporter, and include the following information:

  • The dates of each shipment of the pesticide exported to the foreign purchaser during that calendar year; and
  • If known, or reasonably ascertainable, the country or countries of final destination of the export shipments.

Information on the required contents of FPAS about submitting statements electronically is available here.


 

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

On August 13, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it appointed two new members, Cheryl A. Murphy, Ph.D., Professor, Director of Center for PFAS Research, Michigan State University, and Veronica J. Berrocal, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Statistics, University of California, to serve on the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel (FIFRA SAP). The Chair and one other existing member also were reappointed. These appointments, effective July 30, 2021, were made by the EPA Administrator following nominations provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Members of the FIFRA SAP serve staggered terms of appointment, generally of three years. They possess expertise in scientific and technical fields relevant to human health and ecological risk assessment of pesticides. Members also have background and experiences that typically contribute to the diversity of scientific viewpoints on the Panel.

The FIFRA SAP serves as a primary scientific peer review mechanism of EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs and is structured to provide independent scientific advice and recommendations to EPA on health and safety issues related to pesticides.

The FIFRA SAP is composed of the following scientists:

  • Robert E. Chapin, Ph.D., Chair
    • Affiliation:  Former Senior Research Fellow (Retired), Pfizer Global Research and Development, Groton, Connecticut
    • Expertise: In vitro predictive toxicology; pre-conception reproductive toxicology
    • Education: Ph.D., Pharmacology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; B.A., Biology, Earlham College
  • Veronica, J. Berrocal, Ph.D., Member
    • Affiliation: Associate Professor, Department of Statistics, University of California, Irvine, California
    • Expertise: Statistics; spatial and spatio-temporal statistics; statistical methods for environmental exposure assessment; spatial and environmental epidemiology
    • Education: Ph.D. Statistics, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington; M.Sc. Statistics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; Laurea in Mathematics, Universita’ “La Sapienza,” Roma, Italy; and Degree of Etudes Approfondis (DEA) en Mathematiques, Universite’ “Joseph Fourier,” now part of Universite’ Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble, France
  • Jeffrey R. Bloomquist, Ph.D., Member
    • Affiliation: Professor of Entomology, Entomology and Nematology Department, Emerging Pathogens Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
    • Expertise: Chemistry, human and insect neurophysiology, neurochemistry, insecticide toxicology, mode of action, and resistance; including studies of comparative neurotoxicology and environmental Parkinsonism
    • Education: Ph.D. Entomology, University of California, Riverside, California; M.S. Entomology, Mississippi State University, Mississippi; B.S. Entomology, Purdue University, Indiana; and Postdoctoral appointment in Insecticide Toxicology, Cornell University, New York
  • Gaylia Jean Harry, Ph.D., Member
    • Affiliation: Group Leader, Neurotoxicology Laboratory, National Toxicology Program, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NTP/NIEHS), Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
    • Expertise: Mode of action of environmental agents on the nervous system with focused interest on the developing nervous system, neurotoxicology, neuropathology, behavioral assessments, neuroinflammation, and developmental processes using in vivo and in vitro models
    • Education: Ph.D. Experimental Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University; M.S. Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University; and B.S. Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia
  • Cheryl A. Murphy, Ph.D., Member
    • Affiliation: Professor, Director of Center for PFAS Research, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
    • Expertise: Ecological Toxicology, Adverse Outcome Pathways, Fish Physiology, Behavior
    • Education: Ph.D. Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; M.S. Physiology and Cell Biology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta; and BSc (Honors) Marine Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia
  • Rebecca L Smith, D.V.M., Ph.D., Member
    • Affiliation: Assistant Professor, Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois
    • Expertise: Epidemiologic research on longitudinal data analysis and mathematical modeling of diseases for purposes of prediction and control, with a focus on One Health
    • Education: Ph.D. Epidemiology, Cornell University; M.S. Biosecurity and Risk Analysis, Kansas State University. D.V.M. Cornell University; B.A. Biology, Gustavus Adolphus College
  • Clifford P. Weisel, Ph.D., Member
    • Affiliation: Professor, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey
    • Expertise: Exposures to chemical agents; multi-route exposures to environmental contaminants; the association between exposure and adverse health effects; utilization of sensors for continuous exposure measurement; and development and application of biomarkers of exposure
    • Education: Ph.D. Chemical Oceanography, University of Rhode Island; M.S. Analytical Chemical, University of Rhode Island; and B.S. Chemistry, State University of New York at Stony Brook

Additional biographical details on the current members is available here.

Commentary

The FIFRA SAP has been an important element of EPA’s pesticide program scientific review procedures. The pesticide program has been able to use the FIFRA SAP as an outside review element to add credibility to its key scientific policies over the decades since it was created as part of the FIFRA legislative amendments in the 1970s. (In fact, the FIFRA SAP was created before the EPA-wide Science Advisory Board (SAB).) Also important is the statutory provision, added as part of the Food Quality Protection Act in 1996, to establish a Science Review Board made up of 60 scientists “who shall be available to the Scientific Advisory Panel to assist in reviews conducted by the Panel.” Together, the goal is to have a range of scientific discipline expertise available to offer outside peer review of the wide range of science questions that confront EPA when evaluating pesticide registration issues.


 

By Lisa M. Campbell and Lisa R. Burchi

On July 12, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in the Federal Register a notice of availability of a petition filed on April 8, 2021, by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) requesting that EPA cancel Elanco US Inc.’s (formerly Bayer Healthcare LLC) Product, PNR1427, more commonly known as Seresto (Petition). 86 Fed. Reg. 36546. The Petition also requests that EPA suspend the registration pending the requested cancellation. Seresto has been registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) since 2012 for flea and tick treatment on adult dogs and puppies and on adult cats and kittens.

Comments on the Petition are due on or before September 10, 2021, in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2021-0409.

Under FIFRA Section 6(b), EPA may cancel a pesticide product’s registration if it appears to EPA that the pesticide, “when used in accordance with widespread and commonly recognized practice, generally causes unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.” In its Petition, CBD states that, “according to a recent aggregate incident summary report, since this product was introduced in 2012, EPA has received over 75,000 adverse incident reports, including at least 1,698 reports linking the use of this product to pet deaths and at least 700 involving human harm.” CBD states this product “contains as active ingredients the neonicotinoid imidacloprid (10%) and the pyrethroid flumethrin (4.5%).” CBD states further, “Understanding each of these ingredients, alone and in combination, is important for understanding the toxicity and risks that their use in Seresto presents to dogs, cats, humans, and exposed threatened and endangered species.” With regard to imidacloprid, CBD states in its Petition, “Neonicotinoids like imidacloprid are most well-known for the harms they cause to pollinator species, including threatened and endangered pollinators like the Poweshiek skipperling (endangered), Dakota skipper (threatened), and rusty patched bumble bee (endangered).” The Petition discusses several studies and EPA risk assessments related to both ingredients, as well as what it describes as the “synergistic effects” of the combination of imidacloprid and flumethrin. CBD argues that Seresto poses an unreasonable risk to human health, pets, and the environment and that EPA should cancel the registration pursuant to FIFRA Section 6(b).

CBD additionally argues that EPA should suspend the registration, asserting that EPA can suspend a pesticide’s registration under FIFRA Section 6(c)(1) when such action is necessary to prevent an “imminent hazard” during the time required for cancellation. The standard to be met to be considered an imminent hazard is high, as “imminent hazard” is defined under FIFRA Section 2(l) as “a situation which exists when the continued use of a pesticide during the time required for [a] cancellation proceeding would be likely to result in unreasonable adverse effects on the environment or will involve unreasonable hazard to the survival of a species declared endangered or threatened.” CBD argues that suspension is warranted in this case because, CDC asserts, both criteria for an imminent hazard are satisfied -- CDC asserts that the products at issue pose both “ongoing and imminent unreasonable adverse effects on the environment and unreasonable hazard to the survival of the endangered rusty patched bumble bee, as well as other imperiled pollinators).”

Commentary

This Petition is one prong in a larger effort by certain groups to halt sales and use of Seresto. EPA’s press release statements indicate that EPA shares some concerns raised by the petitioners, at least with regard to incidents involving pets. EPA further stated in its press release that it is reviewing additional information requested by EPA from the current and former registrant regarding these incidents, and that it will use that information “along with any relevant information received during the public comment on this petition, to determine if any additional action is needed.” It will be important to monitor EPA’s review and response to this petition.


 

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

On March 17, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the issuance of the final guidance document entitled "Guidance for Waiving Acute Dermal Toxicity Tests for Pesticide Technical Chemicals & Supporting Retrospective Analysis" (EPA 705-G-2020-3722; Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0093) that expands the potential for data waivers for acute dermal studies to single technical active ingredients (AI) used to formulate end-use products. This new guidance builds upon the final guidance for waiving acute dermal toxicity tests for pesticide formulations published by EPA on November 9, 2016, and is an example 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.  EPA states that this guidance is expected to reduce the number of test animals used annually by approximately 750, as well as save EPA, industry, and laboratory resources.

The new final guidance document also allows EPA to harmonize with the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) of Canada, which published guidance on acute dermal toxicity waivers for both end-use product formulations and technical chemicals in 2017. 

In developing the new guidance, EPA states that the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM) conducted a retrospective analysis of rat acute oral and acute dermal LD50 studies for 249 AIs across numerous chemical classes and toxicity categories in the EPA pesticide categorization scheme.  The overall purpose of this analysis was to address the utility of the acute dermal toxicity study for single AIs in pesticide labeling, such as the signal word and precautionary statements. Fumigants and rodenticides were excluded from this retrospective 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; and
  • The acute dermal toxicity studies provide little to no added value in regulatory decision making. 

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. 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.

Additional information on EPA’s efforts to reduce animal testing is available here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On February 1, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana granted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) January 31, 2021, unopposed motion to vacate and remand its January 6, 2021, final rule on “Strengthening Transparency in Pivotal Science Underlying Significant Regulatory Actions and Influential Scientific Information” (86 Fed. Reg. 469).  EDF v. EPA, No. 4:21-cv-03-BMM.  On January 11, 2021, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC), and Citizens for Clean Energy (CCE) filed suit against EPA, claiming that the January 6, 2021, final rule was unlawful and that EPA’s decision to make the final rule effective on publication was unlawful.  On January 27, 2021, the court granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs, finding that EPA did not provide good cause to exempt the final rule from the Administrative Procedure Act’s (APA) 30-day notice requirement.  The court stated that “EPA’s decision to make the Final Rule immediately effective on publication was ‘arbitrary, capricious’ and ‘otherwise not in accordance with law.’”  In its January 31, 2021, motion, EPA states based on the court’s conclusion that the final rule constitutes a substantive rule and that EPA “lacked authorization to promulgate the rule pursuant to its housekeeping authority.”  According to EPA, where EPA lacked the authority to promulgate the final rule, “remand without vacatur would serve no useful purpose because EPA would not be able to cure that defect on remand.”  EPA notes that because the final rule was in effect for less than a month, and it had not applied the rule in any circumstance while the rule was in effect, “there would be no disruptive consequences in remanding and vacating the rule.”

Prior to EPA’s motion to vacate and remand the final rule, on January 20, 2021, President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.  According to the EO, it is the policy of the Biden Administration “to listen to the science; to improve public health and protect our environment; to ensure access to clean air and water; to limit exposure to dangerous chemicals and pesticides; to hold polluters accountable, including those who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities; to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; to bolster resilience to the impacts of climate change; to restore and expand our national treasures and monuments; and to prioritize both environmental justice and the creation of the well-paying union jobs necessary to deliver on these goals.”  The EO directs all executive departments and agencies to review immediately and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, take action to address the promulgation of federal regulations and other actions during the Trump Administration that conflict with the Biden Administration’s national objectives, and to commence work immediately to confront the climate crisis.  The EO calls for the heads of all agencies to review immediately “all existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions (agency actions) promulgated, issued, or adopted between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021, that are or may be inconsistent with, or present obstacles to,” the Biden Administration’s policy.  For any identified actions, the EO directs the heads of agencies to “consider suspending, revising, or rescinding the agency actions.”  In addition, for certain specified agency actions, the EO states that the head of the relevant agency “shall consider publishing for notice and comment a proposed rule suspending, revising, or rescinding the agency action within the time frame specified.”  The specified agency actions include EPA’s January 6, 2021, final rule on “Strengthening Transparency in Pivotal Science Underlying Significant Regulatory Actions and Influential Scientific Information.”

As reported in our January 11, 2021, memorandum, the origin of EPA’s January 6, 2021, final rule is rooted in legislative proposals more clearly intended to challenge important regulatory requirements, particularly related to EPA’s air program.  We predicted that the final rule would likely be among the first items subject to reversal or “clarifying” guidance making it consistent with previously established science policies (see Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) Forecast 2021 memo).  With Democratic control of both houses of Congress, there might also be attempts to repeal the rule via action under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) of recently promulgated regulations.


 

By Lisa M. Campbell and Heather F. Collins, M.S.

On January 19, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the issuance of a Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 18 emergency exemption to the states of Oklahoma and Arkansas, permitting American Airlines to use SurfaceWise2, believed to inactivate coronaviruses like the SARS-CoV-2 virus on surfaces, in specific airport facilities and planes.  EPA also has revised the terms of use for SurfaceWise2 for all current emergency exemptions. 

EPA’s initial emergency exemption for the state of Texas issued on August 24, 2020, specified that the product remained effective for seven days.  According to its updated labels for all three states, EPA has now approved claims that SurfaceWise2 provides residual surface control of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces that are undisturbed for up to 30 days.  The updated labels state “When used in accordance with the directions for use, SurfaceWise®2 provides residual surface control of coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, for up to 30-days on undisturbed (e.g., are not routinely disinfected with List N products) non-porous treated surfaces.” 

Of note, EPA also states in its announcement that SurfaceWise2 should be reapplied every time surfaces are disinfected to ensure continuous product performance as exposure to prolonged wetness may adversely impact the efficacy of the product.  The updated labels state in the Directions for Use that the user must “Reapply SurfaceWise®2 after surfaces are disinfected to ensure continuous product performance” and “Do not expose SurfaceWise®2 to prolonged wetness as this may adversely impact the efficacy of the product.”

FIFRA Section 18 authorizes EPA to exempt federal or state agencies from any provision of FIFRA in the event that emergency conditions require such an exemption.  EPA regulations (40 C.F.R. Part 166) specify when state or federal government agencies will be permitted to use unregistered pesticides in response to an emergency.  EPA’s regulations provide that an emergency exists when:

  • There is an “urgent, non-routine” situation requiring the use of a pesticide to control a new pest not previously prevalent in the United States, to control significant risks to health, the environment, beneficial organisms, or endangered species, or to prevent specified types of economic loss; and
  • There is no registered pesticide or economically or environmentally feasible alternate method of control available.

40 C.F.R. § 166.3.

The exemptions granted can be very specific and time-limited; EPA has developed a database so companies can search (by chemical, site, pest, applicant, or date range) to determine if an emergency exemption has been issued and its expiration date.

In this case, EPA approved the Section 18 emergency exemption request for SurfaceWise2 -- a product manufactured by Allied BioScience.  SurfaceWise2 is a surface coating that Allied BioScience states inactivates viruses and bacteria within two hours of application and continues to work against them for up to 30 days, on undisturbed non-porous treated surfaces.  EPA’s approvals will allow Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas to permit American Airlines airport facilities and planes at specific locations identified on the label and two Total Orthopedics Sports & Spine Clinics in Texas to use SurfaceWise2 under certain conditions.  The approved Section 18 emergency requests are effective for one year. This public health exemption will expire August 24, 2021.  As new data emerge, EPA may alter the terms of the product’s emergency uses, as it did with the modifications discussed here. 

Additional information on Section 18 emergency exemption requests and SARS-CoV-2 is available here.


 
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