Proposal to Revoke Chlorpyrifos Food Residue Tolerances
In October 2015, EPA proposed to revoke all food residue tolerances for the insecticide chlorpyrifos. At this time, EPA is unable to make a safety finding as required under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). We will respond to all comments received on the proposal and make a final decision by March 31, 2017.
In November 2016, we revised our human health risk assessment. This revised analysis shows risks from dietary exposure (i.e., residues of chlorpyrifos on food crops) and drinking water. It does not result in a change to our proposal, but after considering the advice of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP), we are modifying the methods used to support that finding.
- Why is EPA proposing to revoke all tolerances for chlorpyrifos?
- What uses of chlorpyrifos are affected by this proposed tolerance revocation?
- What are the specific concerns associated with drinking water?
- What are EPA’s next steps?
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, the 9th Circuit Court rejected EPA’s time line, instead ordering EPA by October 31, 2015, to: deny the petition, issue a proposed revocation, or issue a final revocation rule. At that time, EPA did not deny the petition because we were unable to make a safety finding based on the science as it stood. At that time, EPA did not issue a final revocation rule because we had not completed our revised human health assessment and refined drinking water assessment, so certain science issues were still unresolved.
Based on the 2014 analysis, EPA could not conclude that the risk from aggregate exposure met 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.
We informed the court, we proposed to revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances based on the science as it stood. 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. The court has extended the deadline for issuing a final rule to March 31, 2017.
In November 2016, we revised our human health risk assessment and drinking water exposure assessment for chlorpyrifos that supported our October 2015 proposal to revoke all food residue tolerances for chlorpyrifos. The revised analysis shows risks from dietary exposure (i.e. residues of chlorpyrifos on food crops) and drinking water.
Because tolerances are the maximum residue of a pesticide that can be in or on food, this proposed rule revoking all chlorpyrifos tolerances means that if this approach is finalized, all agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos would cease. Learn more about tolerances.
According to USDA data there are approximately 1.2 million crop producing farms in the U.S. EPA estimates that more than 40,000 crop producing farms currently use chlorpyrifos to control a wide range of insect pests. Cost effective alternatives are available to control many of the pests targeted by chlorpyrifos. Some farms growing certain crops (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, citrus, etc.) may be affected more than others by the loss of the use of chlorpyrifos.
Learn more about the uses of chlorpyrifos.
EPA’s 2014 revised human health risk assessment showed the potential for risks in small watersheds with high concentrations of farming where chlorpyrifos may be widely used. The 2014 assessment included a refined drinking water assessment for the Pacific Northwest and the Southeast, but not the entire country. EPA determined that safe levels of chlorpyrifos may be exceeded for people whose drinking water is derived from certain vulnerable watersheds in parts of the United States.
EPA completed its refined drinking water assessment in 2016. While this drinking water assessment is more refined than the previous assessments, the results did not identify many areas where potential exposures of concern to drinking water can be ruled out. As a result, this assessment does not significantly alter the conclusions in the proposed rule regarding drinking water exposure and continues to indicate potential exposure to chlorpyrifos.
While EPA completes the final rule, anyone who has concerns about contaminants in their public drinking water system should check with their local water utility or state. Local authorities are not required by EPA to test for chlorpyrifos, since EPA has no federal drinking water regulation for chlorpyrifos. However, some local authorities do test for contaminants beyond federal drinking water regulations.
EPA plans to issue a final rule on chlorpyrifos tolerances by the court-ordered deadline of March 31, 2017, after considering comments received on the revised analyses.