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EPA Launches Internal Pilot Program for “Green” Antimicrobials

(Beyond Pesticides, February 20, 2009) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will conduct an “internal pilot” in conjunction with the agency’s Design for the Environment Formulator Program (DfE) to further explore a policy change that would allow claims of environmental preferability in regard to non-porous hard surface disinfectants and sanitizers. The agency’s plans were announced at a February 3 meeting of the Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee (PPDC) Work Group on Comparative Claims in Washington, DC.

“EPA’s announcement of the internal pilot is a positive step forward in developing an Agency policy that meshes with the demands of today’s green marketplace,” said Bill Balek, Director of Legislative Affairs of the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association (ISSA).

According to Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, “Comparative claims and “green” standards can help consumers avoid poisonous pesticide products. EPA should through this program embrace its mission to provide the public with full disclosure of all pesticide product ingredients, potential hazards, inluding those known and untested, and information on product efficacy. Additionally, to maximize positive outcomes, this program should also assist the public with information on unnecessary and ineffective antimicrobial pesticide use, bacterial resistance, and “green” practices, such as cultural practices that can eliminate the conditions that invite harmful microbial activity without harmful pesticides.”

The purpose of the internal pilot program is to increase the understanding between EPA’s DfE scientists and the pesticide registration review staff as to what a review for environmental preferability entails and how that might interface with the pesticide registration process.

“The internal pilot announced by EPA is a prudent and necessary step in developing a ‘green’ claims policy that ensures both the continued efficacy (performance) of disinfectants, and which allows purchasers to make informed decisions when selecting products with a preferred environmental, safety and health profile,” said Stephen Ashkin, President of The Ashkin Group.

The Work Group includes representatives from environmental, public health, education, user, and green cleaning groups, but the largest subgroup includes representatives from industry interests like Clorox, the Scott’s Company, and CropLife America. It was established for the purpose of making a policy recommendation in regard to allowing claims of environmental preferability for pesticide products including disinfectants. Current EPA policy prohibits such claims.

Under the internal pilot, both DfE and Office of Pesticide Program (OPP) staff will conduct concurrent evaluations of products previously recognized under the DfE program which mimic antimicrobial pesticide formulations. Upon completion of the evaluation, DfE and OPP scientists will discuss the results and consider modifications to the criteria and/or process of the review for environmental attributes. If, at that time, EPA sees benefit in continuation of a pilot program, the agency anticipates launching an “external pilot” that would presumably involve the participation of industry.

EPA also decided to evaluate a parallel approach by which “factual claims” could be made about a product’s ‘green’ attributes and established a work group to develop options for further consideration.

For more information on antibacterials, including triclosan, visit Beyond Pesticides’ program page.


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