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EPA Calls for Cancellation of Deadly Insecticide

(Beyond Pesticides, February 6, 2008) EPA has submitted a draft Notice of Intent to Cancel (NOIC) for all carbofuran registrations to EPA’s Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP). Carbofuran is a highly toxic insecticide used on field, fruit and vegetable crops and has long been the subject of controversy and a series of use restrictions that environmentalists have decried as too limited.

EPA has opened a docket containing the materials provided to the SAP that is convening on February 5-8. The SAP will review the scientific assessment underlying EPA’s NOIC for carbofuran and respond to questions posed by the agency related to the impact on health and the environment of the proposal. The docket number is EPA-HQ-OPP-2007-1088; view docket information.This action is the result of an interim reregistration eligibility decision reached by EPA in August 2006, in which the agency found all products containing carbofuran ineligible for reregistration. FIFRA requires that EPA consult the SAP before issuing an NOIC. The SAP meeting, which is open to the public, will be held at an EPA Office of Pesticide Programs conference room at One Potomac Yard in Arlington, Virginia.Carbofuran was first registered in the United States in 1969 and is classified as a restricted use pesticide.

Through an agreement between EPA and the technical registrant in 1991, granular carbofuran has been limited to the sale of 2,500 lbs per year in the U.S. since 1994, and to use on spinach grown for seed, pine seedlings, cucurbits, and bananas only. Additionally, in the late 1990s the technical registrant made a number of changes to labels for flowable carbofuran in order to reduce drinking water and ecological risks of concern. These included reducing application rates and numbers of applications for alfalfa, cotton, corn, potatoes, soybeans, sugarcane, and sunflowers.

Three human studies have been conducted for carbofuran – one oral and two dermal. These studies were reviewed by the agency’s Human Studies Review Board (HSRB) in May 2006. The HSRB concluded that, while informative, the studies are not appropriate for use by the agency in either the individual carbofuran or N-methyl carbamate cumulative risk assessment. The agency did not use any of the human studies in the risk assessment for carbofuran.Carbofuran is a systemic, broad spectrum N-methyl carbamate insecticide and nematicide registered for control of soil and foliar pests on a variety of field, fruit, and vegetable crops. There are no residential uses. Nearly one million pounds of carbofuran are applied annually. Carbofuran is a restricted use pesticide. As with other N-methyl carbamate pesticides, the critical effect of carbofuran for various exposure durations is cholinesterase inhibition; that is, it can overstimulate the nervous system causing nausea, dizziness, confusion, and at very high exposures (e.g. accidents or major spills), respiratory paralysis and death. Similar to other N-methyl carbamate pesticides, inhibition is followed by rapid recovery of cholinesterase. Carbofuran is classified as “Not Likely” to be a human carcinogen.

Carbofuran is very highly toxic to birds on an acute basis, and highly toxic on a sub-acute basis. A chronic effect level could not be established due to the fact that all concentrations tested caused mortality in the test subjects. Carbofuran is highly toxic to mammals on an acute basis. Chronic toxicity testing on laboratory rats showed reduced offspring survival and body weight reductions. Carbofuran is very highly toxic to freshwater and estuarine/marine fish on an acute basis. The available chronic test showed larval survival as the most sensitive endpoint for freshwater fish and embryo hatching as the most sensitive endpoint for estuarine/marine fish. Carbofuran is considered to be very highly toxic to freshwater and estuarine/marine invertebrates on an acute basis. Chronic tests showed reproductive effects. Further information on carbofuran is available on EPA’s Web site.The SAP meeting is being held at Environmental Protection Agency Conference Center, Lobby Level, One Potomac Yard (South Bldg.), 2777 Crystal Dr., Arlington, VA 22202.

Comments. Submit your comments, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPP-2007-1088, by one of the following methods:
Federal eRulemaking Portal. Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.
• Mail: Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) Regulatory Public Docket (7502P), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001.
• Delivery: OPP Regulatory Public Docket (7502P), Environmental Protection Agency, Rm. S-4400, One Potomac Yard (South Bldg.), 2777 S. Crystal Dr., Arlington, VA. Deliveries are only accepted during the Docket’s normal hours of operation (8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays). Special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information. The Docket Facility telephone number is (703) 305-5805.

Instructions. Direct your comments to docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2007-1088. If your comments contain any information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected, please contact the DFO listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT to obtain special instructions before submitting your comments. EPA’s policy is that all comments received will be included in the docket without change and may be made available on-line, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. See previous Beyond Pesticides’ stories on carbofuran.


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