Chlorpyrifos review causes concern

EPA continues to recommend pulling chlorpyrifos from market despite its strong safety record.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released an updated assessment for chlorpyrifos. While EPA did propose modifying the scientific analysis used, the agency continues to recommend that chlorpyrifos be pulled from the market.

Chlorpyrifos is a “widely used and widely tested chemistry proven to be safe and effective for an array of commodities, specialty crops and public health uses throughout the United States,” industry groups said in comments to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Chlorpyrifos is the active ingredient in Lorsban.

EPA’s release of documents to the federal docket is in regard to food-use tolerance revocations of chlorpyrifos. This proposed action follows a long review of chlorpyrifos that has included three separate Scientific Advisory Panels (SAPs), the first two held in 2008 and 2012 and the most recent in April 2016. All three SAPs came to the same conclusion, questioning EPA’s shift to the use of certain epidemiological study outcomes rather than toxicological data in human health risk assessments. In particular, the SAPs have cautioned EPA against using the study outcomes from the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH).

EPA has not consistently provided opportunity for stakeholder input and, generally, has not responded to the thousands of comments that have been submitted on the chlorpyrifos docket, CropLife America (CLA) said in a statement.

“EPA’s most recent move represents a major proposed action that sets a precedent of using study outcomes for regulatory decision-making in lieu of laboratory data. This change in approach creates an unpredictable system for companies that have put hundreds of millions of dollars and decades of work into ensuring their products meet the highest human health and safety requirements,” Jay Vroom, president and chief executive officer of CLA, said. “Upon examination of the 55 documents, the decision to continue on the path toward the revocation of a vital crop protection product seems to have been made with almost no new relevant information to back the result.”

“EPA stated that it planned to revise its previous approach to drinking water assessment. Yet, upon initial review of the docket, nothing has changed to enhance the refinement of the models,” noted Dr. Janet Collins, CLA senior vice president of science and regulatory affairs. “The overly conservative assumptions used in both the human health and the drinking water assessments create unrealistic limitations to the use of chlorpyrifos. We are disappointed that EPA continues to use the epidemiological study reports from the literature to assess exposure and health outcome when, as they state, EPA does not have access to the data that can be used in a meaningful and relevant risk assessment. Rather, EPA has added assumptions based on expected use of chlorpyrifos with no record of actual use.”

Due to the volume of data added to the docket, CLA will need the full 60 days allotted to review the documents adequately and prepare comments, the industry group said.

This update was not a final decision and comments will be accepted until Jan. 17, 2017, at https://goo.gl/PmIuCZ. Under a court order, EPA has to issue a final decision on chlorpyrifos by March 21, 2017.

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