Certified workers who apply “restricted-use” pesticides must have their certification renewed every five years and be at least 18 years old, according to an EPA rule published yesterday in the Federal Register.
Restricted-use pesticides are not available for purchase by the general public and require special handling.
The new rule, which updates the EPA’s existing Certification of Pesticide Applicators regulation, also requires specialized licensing for certain methods such as fumigation and aerial application that can pose greater risks if not conducted properly. Additionally, people working under the supervision of certified applicators will be required to receive training to use pesticides safely and to protect their families from “take-home” pesticide exposure.
The agency expects the stricter standards to result in fewer acute pesticide incidents to people, reduced chronic exposure and reduced incidents of ecological harm from pesticide use.
Two days before the pesticide rule was published, four children died and at least five others were hospitalized in Amarillo, Texas, after someone at their home sprayed water on a previously applied restricted-use pesticide, aluminum phosphide. When mixed with water, the substance produces toxic phosphine gas.
A lack of education on how to use the chemical compound led to the deaths, WFAA reports.
This action is in response to a lawsuit by environmental groups that sought to force pesticide manufacturers to disclose 371 inert ingredients found in pesticide products. A judge ruled the EPA was not legally required to disclose the ingredients.
“Instead, EPA will evaluate potential risks of inert ingredients and reduce risks, as appropriate,” the agency said in a statement, adding that many of the newly banned 72 inert ingredients are on the list of 371 identified by the petitioners as hazardous.
The removal of the 72 chemicals is not likely to significantly affect pesticide manufacturers, Ray McAllister, senior director of regulatory policy for the trade association Crop Life America, told Bloomberg BNA.
This is because these ingredients are no longer used in products. Additionally, if companies wanted to include the inert ingredients in a new or existing pest control product in the future, they could go through an EPA approval process to have one of the 72 ingredients added in a formulation.