Feb 28, 2022
Objections to EPA’s rule revoking all chlorpyrifos tolerances denied

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Feb. 25 it was taking the next step to discontinue use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on food by denying objections to its rule revoking all chlorpyrifos tolerances.

“Today’s action shows how EPA continues to put the health and safety of the public first, particularly that of children and farmworkers,” Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff said in a news release. “After more than a decade of studying a large body of science, EPA is taking the next step towards the cancellation of the use of chlorpyrifos on food.”

On Oct. 19, 2021, more than 80 agricultural groups filed formal objections to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Aug. 30, 2021, rule to revoke all tolerances of chlorpyrifos. In the coalition letter, objectors from across the agriculture sector cited numerous concerns with EPA’s revocation decision, including the processes EPA used and lack of scientific basis.

In August 2021, EPA issued a final rule revoking all tolerances – which establish an amount of a pesticide that is allowed on food – for chlorpyrifos. Previously, chlorpyrifos was used for a large variety of agricultural uses, including soybeans, fruit and nut trees, broccoli, cauliflower, and other row crops. It has been found to inhibit an enzyme, which leads to neurotoxicity, and has also been associated with potential neurodevelopmental effects in children.

EPA issued the August 2021 final rule in response to the Ninth Circuit Court’s order directing the agency to issue a final rule in response to Pesticide Action Network North America and Natural Resources Defense Council’s 2007 petition. This petition requested that EPA revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances because they were not safe.

In issuing the final rule, EPA found it could not determine that there is a reasonable certainty of no harm from aggregate exposure to chlorpyrifos – including food, drinking water, and residential exposure – based on available data and considering its registered uses. EPA’s evaluation indicated that registered uses of chlorpyrifos result in exposures exceeding the safe levels of exposure, and thus have the potential to result in adverse effects.

After issuing the August 2021 final rule and consistent with the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, EPA provided an opportunity for any person to file an objection to any aspect of the final rule and request a hearing on those objections. The deadline for all objections and hearing requests was Oct. 29, 2021. The concerns raised in the objections include the scope of the revocation of tolerances, economic and environmental impacts of the revocation, and the implementation timeframe.

Under today’s action and after careful consideration, EPA is denying all objections, hearing requests, and requests to stay the final rule filed during the period for submitting responses to the final rule. EPA will also provide a copy of its response to objections and the accompanying order in the chlorpyrifos final rule docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2021-0523 at www.regulations.gov.

In addition to the response to objections, EPA has issued letters to the registrants of chlorpyrifos products with food uses confirming revocation of the tolerances and indicating cancellation and label amendment options. These options include the ability for registrants  to submit registration amendments to remove food uses from product labels or submit a voluntary cancellation for products where all uses are subject to the tolerance revocation. For questions related to disposal of chlorpyrifos, please visit Frequent Questions About the Chlorpyrifos 2021 Final Rule.

For registrations not voluntarily cancelled, EPA intends to issue a Notice of Intent to Cancel under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act to cancel registered food uses of chlorpyrifos associated with the revoked tolerances.

Chlorpyrifos use has been in decline due to reduced production and restrictions at the state level. A number of other countries, including Canada and the European Union, and some states, including California, Hawaii, New York, Maryland and Oregon, have taken similar actions to restrict the use of this pesticide on food. Additionally, alternative pesticides have been registered in recent years for most crops. There are also other insecticides and insect growth regulators available to control certain target pests. EPA is committed to reviewing replacements for and alternatives to chlorpyrifos.

This action will be incorporated into the ongoing registration review of chlorpyrifos. EPA is continuing to review the comments submitted on the chlorpyrifos proposed interim decisiondraft revised human health risk assessment, and draft ecological risk assessment. These documents are available in the chlorpyrifos registration review docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0850 at www.regulations.gov.

After considering public comments, EPA will proceed with registration review for the remaining non-food uses, which may propose additional measures to reduce human health and ecological risks. More information on the registration review process is available here.

Separately, on Feb. 9, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released specific guidance consistent with the channels of trade provision to address questions related to treated commodities with chlorpyrifos residues, including imported foods. Visit FDA’s website for additional information and to read the guidance.

More information about chlorpyrifos and the response to objections is available on EPA’s website.

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