EPA Public Input on Pesticide Exemption Process
Minimum Risk Pesticide Exemption
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public input on the process of pesticide exemption. This process allows certain products to avoid the normal registration process because they are considered a “minimum risk” for harm to people or the environment. EPA is evaluating what, if any, changes are needed to this process.
Specifically, they are asking for input on:
- Are programmatic changes needed to state regulations related to exempt products?
- Should the EPA add any new classes of pesticides for exemption?
The EPA created the minimum risk category in 1996 for those pesticides that did not pose an unreasonable risk of harm to people or the environment. The full registration process can be expensive, time consuming, and onerous, so the exemption was created to focus agency efforts on those products that might pose a risk. However, all ingredients that go into a minimum risk product (active ingredients and inactive ingredients) have gone through the rigorous chemical, environmental, and toxicity testing that all pesticides go through. This exemption primarily reduces labeling requirements and data compensation that is required for other products.
For a product to be considered minimum risk there are 6 conditions that must be met (Conditions for Minimum Risk Pesticides)
- Active ingredients are on the exempt list (Exempt Active Ingredient List)
- Inactive ingredients are on the exempt list (Exempt Inactive Ingredients)
- Label must list all active and inactive ingredients by percentage (by weight)
- The product can not claim to control health related pests. For example it can claim to control mosquitos, but not mosquitos that carry West Nile virus, nor could it claim to sterilize, disinfect, sanitize or “kill germs”
- Company name and contact information must be listed on the label
- Limitation of label statements (i.e. can’t claim to be “chemical free”, can’t claim to “kill all insects”, can’t have an EPA registration number, etc.)
No specific changes are currently proposed, but public input could either confirm no changes are needed or highlight the possibility of adding new substances or even eliminating the program entirely. To comment search docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2020-0537 at https://beta.regulations.gov/. Comments will be open for 90 days after posting of the documents. At the time of writing the docket was not yet loaded into the EPA portal, continue checking back for when it posts.
Office of Pesticide Program: https://www.epa.gov/pesticides