EPA response to spray drift petition now available

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EPA’s response to the petition, “Pesticides in the Air – Kids At Risk: Petition to EPA to Protect Children From Pesticide Drift,” dated March 31, 2014, has been posted to the Web. The petition was submitted in October 2009 by Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice on behalf of a group of health and environmental organizations that included Pesticide Action Network North America and the United Farmworkers. The petition asks EPA to: 

  1. evaluate the risks to children exposed to pesticides through drift and volatilization,
  2. establish a separate process or modify its pesticide re-evaluation process to expedite assessment and management of these risks, and
  3. impose interim buffer zones for certain types of pesticides, including the organophosphates and n-methyl carbamates, between treated areas and places where children congregate

We agree with the petitioners that the agency should account for exposure to spray drift and volatilization and have granted some of their requests.
EPA has developed and recently released for public comment methodologies for assessing the risks to bystanders from pesticide drift and volatilization. EPA has used similar methodologies in the past and will be finalizing them, with refinements that have been made over time, after considering public comment. The agency plans to use these methodologies during registration review to address concerns it shares with the petitioners about drift and volatilization.
The agency does not believe that adopting the process suggested by the petitioners for assessing these risks is an efficient or effective way to use resources. Many of the specific pesticides the petitioners identified as being of particular concern have already entered registration review, and the agency intends to integrate consideration of drift and volatilization risks into its registration review human health risk assessments. 
Although EPA imposes buffers as appropriate, we believe that requiring interim buffers of one width for all pesticides of special concern, as proposed by the petitioners, is neither appropriate nor scientifically supported.  
To view EPA's response, go to the link in the Quick Resources box on the Pesticide Spray and Dust Drift Web page. Related documents are available at http://www.regulations.gov/ in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2009-0825, and the agency's response will also be posted there shortly.

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