NC State Makes Strides Toward Regulatory Science Center

by Dee Shore, NC State University

NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is moving closer to its goal of setting up a Center of Excellence for Regulatory Science in Agriculture, and a three-year gift from Bayer Crop Science is making a difference.

The proposed center – part of the college’s Plant Sciences Initiative – would bring together efforts at NC State related to the complex world of regulations governing agriculture and the science behind them. Continue reading

EPA Guidance on How to Comply with the Revised Worker Protection Standard for Agricultural Pesticides

Today, EPA in conjunction with the Pesticide Educational Resources Collaborative (PERC) is making available a guide to help users of agricultural pesticides comply with the requirements of the 2015 revised federal Worker Protection Standard. You should read this manual if you employ agricultural workers or handlers, are involved in the production of agricultural plants as an owner/manager of an agricultural establishment or a commercial (for-hire) pesticide handling establishment, or work as a crop advisor. Continue reading

Pesticide regulations in United States schools

When used properly, pesticides can be valuable tools that reduce risks from pests. However, in schools and childcare settings, pesticides should be used with greater care to reduce risks to children. Many U.S. states have encouraged this care by passing laws governing pesticide use in schools. An article in the summer 2014 issue of American Entomologist takes a closer look at these laws in various states and makes several recommendations for safety regulations for schools in general.

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EPA’s ChemView gives the public access to chemical health and safety info

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a web-based tool, called ChemView, to significantly improve access to chemical specific regulatory information developed by EPA and data submitted under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

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An Assessment of the Impact of the Food Quality Protection Act: Has it Made People Safer?

“Regulation” has become a word packed with a punch these days. In political debates, candidates either tout the need to increase regulations, or recommend doing away with or reducing the number of regulations. The lawmakers who sponsor some of these regulations often have a goal in mind: keep motorcyclists from winding up on life support, protect people in a crash, keep people’s food safe. The last goal may have been part of the driver behind the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), which regulated the amount of pesticide residue that could be left on food that would be consumed by the public. FQPA was passed in 1996 to lower the amount of pesticides that people would consume on their food. So, after 15 years, did it work? A group of researchers from Emory University in Georgia says yes.

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Webinar Spreads the Word on Policies to Reduce School Pesticide Exposures

The Interstate Chemical Threats Workgroup (ICTW) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) hosted a webinar on December 15, 2011 entitled “Effective Policies to Reduce Exposures to Pesticides in Schools.”

Janet Hurley, extension program specialist with Texas AgriLife Extension Service, pointed out that states have been increasingly adopting school and childcare-specific pesticide regulations because of a lack of federal action. States have implemented regulations with mandates such as no-spray zones, interior and outdoor posting, pre-notification, reentry restrictions after applications, acceptable pesticide lists and school staff training. Hurley comments that such mandates are important to create more uniform success across an entire state, protect more people at one time and allow for more educational opportunities.

Michel Oriel, research scientist with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, reported on school-related exposure incidents throughout California and their effects on state regulations. Data showed that pesticides caused the most cases of chemical exposure to children. One such incident led to the establishment of California Safe Schools, a coalition of over 45 organizations, and prompted Los Angeles Unified School District to implement one of the most highly-regarded IPM programs in the country. The success of this policy also led to the California Healthy Schools Act.

Sherry Glick, national pesticides and schools coordinator with US EPA Office of Pesticide Programs, focused on the benefits of IPM, breaking components down into four sections of a pyramid: education and communication, sanitation, maintenance and cultural practices, and pesticides. She advocates for verifiable school IPM, meaning ongoing and sustainable IPM that includes understanding pests, setting action thresholds, monitoring and removing pest-friendly conditions.

The final presenter, Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, encouraged precaution in creating pest management policies. Feldman stated that many pesticides are considered safe despite the fact that exposure can cause serious health issues, especially to children. Existing pesticide registration laws set an acceptable risk threshold for pesticides based on assessments of exposure and target population groups. However, there are complexities with the real-world use of chemicals that aren’t assessed, such as mixtures and synergistic effects.

All panelists agreed that although pre-notification of pesticide applications is an important strategy to reduce exposure, implementing sanitation and exclusion to eliminate the reasons pests are present is the most effective approach.