EPA Seeks Input on Pesticide Labeling, Children's Exposure to Spray Drift

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has rolled out proposed guidance for new pesticide labeling to reduce off-target spray and dust drift. The new instructions, when implemented, will improve the clarity and consistency of pesticide labels and help prevent harm from spray drift, the agency said, adding it also is requesting comment on a petition to evaluate children's exposure to pesticide drift.

"The new label statements will help reduce problems from pesticide drift," said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. "The new labels will carry more uniform and specific directions on restricting spray drift while giving pesticide applicators clear and workable instructions."

In addition to issuing the new instructions designed to prohibit drift that could cause adverse health or environmental effects, EPA said it will evaluate -- on a pesticide-by-pesticide basis -- scientific information on risk and exposure based on individual product use patterns. EPA said these assessments will help the agency determine whether no-spray buffer zones or other measures -- such as restrictions on droplet or particle size, nozzle height, or weather conditions -- are needed to protect people, wildlife, water resources, schools, and other sensitive sites from potential harm.

Meanwhile, the agency said it is also seeking comment on a draft pesticide drift labeling interpretation document that provides guidance to state and tribal enforcement officials. A second document provides background information on pesticide drift, a description of current and planned EPA actions, a reader's guide explaining key terms and concepts, and specific questions on which EPA is seeking input. These documents and further information are available in docket EPA–HQ–OPP–2009–0628 at www.regulations.gov.

In a second Federal Register notice, EPA also is requesting comment on a petition filed recently by environmental and farm worker organizations. The petitioners asked EPA to evaluate children's exposure to pesticide drift and to adopt, on an interim basis, requirements for "no-spray" buffer zones near homes, schools, day-care centers, and parks. EPA said it will evaluate this new petition and take whatever action may be appropriate after the evaluation is complete. For more information and to submit comments, see docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2009-0825 at www.regulations.gov. Still more information on pesticide spray drift in general is available at www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/spraydrift.htm.

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