The EPA must assess environmental and health effects for all pesticide ingredients, not just the active ingredients that kill pests, the Center for Food Safety argued in a July 10 petition to the agency.
The petition is the latest attempt by environmental groups to bring more attention to “inert” ingredients, the chemicals added to pest-killing ingredients to improve a product’s consistency, fragrance, or volatility. Many of these ingredients are listed as hazardous under federal laws, including the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.
CFS’s petition asks that the Environmental Protection Agency revise pesticide regulations to take into account all pesticide chemicals, not just the active ingredients. The organization also asks that the agency do more to address possible “synergistic” effects—the compounded potency of chemicals when mixed—of pesticides.
“While the old toxicology adage states that the ‘dose makes the poison,’ it is increasingly clear that instead the ‘formulation makes the poison,’” the petition said.
Pesticide ingredient registrations and reviews take many years to complete. Considering the impacts of inert ingredients would likely add time and cost to the process.
The petition also presses the EPA to consider the potential repercussions for endangered and threatened species based on the whole formulation of the pesticide, instead of only the active ingredients.
The EPA’s Inspector General told the agency in June that it was falling behind in collecting information on interactions between pesticides, and needed to do more to track the effects of mixing chemicals.
The EPA is reviewing the petition, an agency spokesman said.
The agency removed 72 inert ingredients from a list of approved chemicals for pesticides last December. A federal judge ruled last year that the agency is not legally required to disclose the chemicals.
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