The EPA is requesting comment on a proposal to revoke all tolerances for the insecticide chlorpyrifos in response to a court-ordered deadline. At this time, EPA is unable to make a safety finding as required under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) due to exposure to drinking water in certain watersheds.
In June 2015 EPA indicated its intention to issue a proposed rule revoking tolerances by April 15, 2016, to address previously identified drinking water concerns and in response to a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA). This schedule would have allowed time for EPA to complete its additional analysis, taking into consideration the public comments received on its December 2014 human health risk assessment.
On August 10, 2015, the 9th Circuit rejected EPA’s time line, instead ordering EPA by October 31, 2015, to either deny the petition, issue a proposed revocation, or issue a final revocation rule. EPA is not denying the petition because we are unable to make a safety finding based on the science as it stands currently. EPA is not issuing a final revocation rule because we have not proposed it and have not completed our refined drinking water assessment, leaving certain science issues unresolved.
Therefore, as we are informing the court, we have proposed to revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances based on the science as it stands. Issuing a proposed revocation provides an opportunity for public input prior to any final decision. The court also required EPA to provide the timeline for a final rule should EPA issue a proposed revocation by October 31. EPA is notifying the court of the anticipated release of the final rule in December 2016.
Based on EPA’s current analysis, there do not appear to be risks from exposure to chlorpyrifos in food, but, when those exposures are combined with estimated exposure from drinking water in certain watersheds, EPA cannot conclude that the risk from aggregate exposure meets the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) safety standard. EPA has determined that safe levels of chlorpyrifos may be exceeded in parts of the United States for people whose drinking water is derived from some small vulnerable watersheds where chlorpyrifos is heavily used. If the tolerances are revoked, EPA would cancel the associated food uses of chlorpyrifos.
Within the next few months, the public will have an opportunity to comment on both a completed hazard assessment and the completed drinking water analysis prior to EPA issuing a final rule. EPA is currently performing additional analysis related to its hazard assessment in order to make certain that any final decision protects infants and children. Once completed, if warranted, it would inform a final tolerance revocation rule.
EPA is also continuing to work on its refined drinking water analysis for the entire country. In December 2014, EPA released a human health risk assessment for chlorpyrifos. The assessment indicated the potential for drinking water risks in small watersheds characterized by high concentrations of farming where chlorpyrifos may be widely used. The 2014 assessment included a refined drinking water analysis for the Pacific Northwest and the Southeast, but not the entire country.
EPA is releasing this proposed rule at this time in order to comply with the October 31 deadline ordered by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in response to a petition from NRDC and PANNA. NRDC and PANNA petitioned EPA to revoke all chlorpyrifos food residue tolerances under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and cancel all registrations of products containing chlorpyrifos under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.
EPA will accept comments on this proposed rule for 60 days. The Proposed Tolerance Revocation Rule will be available at here in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0653.