Illinois Pesticide Review
September / October 2012
In This Issue
- Honey Bee Pesticide Exposure Linked to Corn Production
- New Online Trainings Soon Available
- Improvements Coming to the PSEP Website
- Label Language Affects Purchasing Decisions
- Scotts Miracle-Gro Violates Federal Pesticide Laws
- End-of-Season Pesticide Storage
- Are You Labeling Your Pesticide Service Containers?
Honey Bee Pesticide Exposure Linked to Corn Production
Photo: Recent research indicates that common seed treatments may be linked to CCD of honey bees.
A research article published early this year links insecticide use in field corn production to some of the neonicotinoid insecticide residues found on honey bees. Low levels of these insecticides have been linked to apparent memory loss in honey bees, which is probably one of several factors causing colony collapse disorder (CCD) of honey bees. The article, "Multiple Routes of Pesticide Exposure for Honey Bees Living near Agricultural Fields" was published in the online, open access journal PLoS on January 3, 2012 by Christian H. Krupke, et al. of the Department of Entomology, Purdue University. The entire paper can be accessed at http://www.panna.org/sites/default/files/Krupke_journal.pone_.0029268.pdf
The neonicotinoid insecticides, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, are commonly used as seed treatments on field corn (maize), soybeans, cotton, and other crops. Essentially all of the field corn planted on approximately 88 million acres of the U.S. is treated with these insecticides, probably all but the 0.2% grown organically. Both of these insecticides are systemic and are found in corn pollen as well as other parts of the corn plant.
Honey bees collect pollen as an energy source. Large amounts are fed by the workers to larvae and newly emerged adults in the hive. Near corn fields, pollen traps placed at hive openings collected pollen from the bees as they entered; pollen was also collected from cells within hives. In half of the samples (10 of 20), corn pollen comprised at least half of the volume of the pollen collected. Thiamethoxam was detected in three of the twenty pollen samples; clothianidin was detected in ten of the twenty samples. The fungicides azoxystrobin and propiconazole were also found in all of the pollen samples, with the fungicide trifloxystrobin being found in twelve of the twenty samples.
Nectar collected from cells within hives had no detectable levels of thiamethoxam or clothianidin, even in hives from which contaminated pollen had been collected. The nectar did contain the miticide coumaphos, which is used by beekeepers to control varroa mites. Varroa mites are serious honey bee parasites.
Once inside honey bees and other insects, thiamethoxam converts to clothianidin. Clothianidin was found in all of the dead and dying honey bees collected, whereas none of the apparently healthy honey bees collected had detectable levels of clothianidin.
Samples of corn pollen collected both from the anthers of the corn tassels and the honey bees themselves contained clothianidin. This indicates movement from treated seed through the plant and into the pollen. The levels found in this study were about ten times higher than those found in canola pollen grown from clothianidin-treated seed in a different study.
Other research studies have shown a reduction in the health of pollinators when exposed to the levels of neonicotinoids detected in the pollen in this study. Delayed worker honey bee development occurred when raised on comb containing thiamethoxam and clothianidin.
In another study, bee-collected pollen contaminated with the neonicotinoid imidacloprid apparently had no effect on adults or brood. An additional field study with clothianidin-treated canola found low levels of the insecticide in pollen and nectar, but no significant effects on the honey bees.
The above results were obtained in addition to the primary focus of the research study, the contamination of neonicotinoids in planter dust. They were obtained prior to the mid-July planting experiment as the surrounding seasonally planted corn was already shedding pollen. The primary study was conducted in response to reports of bee kills in Indiana apiaries during the corn planting season.
Corn seed is planted in North America with planters that use a forced air/vacuum system. Because treated seed is somewhat sticky and does not flow readily, talc (hydrated magnesium silicate) is added to planter boxes to assure even flow of the seed. This talc is expelled from the planter with the planted seed and the exhaust fan during planting. Cleaning the planter releases additional talc into the environment. Having been in contact with treated seed, the talc contains the insecticide used to treat the seed as well as broken seed pieces.
Clothianidin was found in soil and dandelion pollen in unplanted areas near the affected apiary. These were open fields that had grown soybeans the previous year. The insecticide in the dandelion pollen could have come from insecticide drift onto the plants, been translocated from the soil, or both.
Pollen collected from dandelions growing far from agricultural areas contained no clothianidin or other nicotinoids. Dandelion is a preferred nectar and pollen source for honey bees in the spring during planting season. At this time, relatively few flowers are blooming, but bee numbers are rapidly increasing within colonies, requiring large amounts of nectar and pollen.
Lethal doses of insecticides to honey bees have been determined and are relatively easy to associate with beehive health. For sublethal doses, it is more difficult to attribute effect with dosage. Sublethal doses may cause more susceptibility to parasites and diseases, result in less time foraging and brood tending, or otherwise result in the colony being less able to cope with other deleterious impacts resulting in hive death rather than survival. These effects have been associated with sublethal insecticides doses previously in honey bees, other pollinators, and termites, another group of social insects.
Colony collapse disorder and other maladies affecting honey bees and other pollinators appear to be the result of a combination of stresses. They could likely cope with these individually but are less likely to survive the entire gamut of stresses. This is a stress that could likely be reduced or eliminated with different planter cleaning practices, improved seed and carrier mixtures, or modified planting methods. In Europe, planters utilize different mechanisms that do not require the use of a talc carrier. Additional research will help determine whether this is an important stress and how to avoid it.(Submitted by Phil Nixon.)
New Online Trainings Soon Available
The PSEP team is pleased to announce the inclusion of two new training modules on our website: Plant Management and Grain Facility. These interactive training programs are geared toward providing applicators with information needed to pass the related category exam. These modules are designed to take the place of on-site clinic training.
Plant Management is geared towards those managing interiorscapes. Training modules include Cultural Requirements and Stress Management; Insects; Diseases; and Application Equipment and Calibration.
Grain Facility is for those who manage pests around grain elevators or other grain holding facilities. Modules include Insect ID and Control; Diseases of Stored Grains; and Application Equipment and Calibration.
The training modules are scripted, as well as voiced. Lessons are self-paced for your convenience, whether you want to finish them all at once or over the course of several days. Each category training can be finished in approximately 3 hours.
Training modules cost $15; the price includes a PDF downloadable workbook.
Visit www.pesticidesafety.illinois.edu to register and participate.
(Submitted by David Robson.)
Improvements Coming to the PSEP Website
The Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP) website is undergoing changes in the next couple of months, with a new fresh look, easier navigation between pages, and more information to help you identify and solve your pesticide problems.
One of our goals is to improve the registration process, whether you want to attend a private or commercial training. The first step was to separate the two training registrations so you won't accidentally sign up for the wrong training. We also expanded your online registration receipt to include more information about the training site.
Navigational bars and an obvious search feature should make it easier to move between pages and find information.
Check out the website at: www.pesticidesafety.illinois.edu
(Submitted by David Robson.)
Label Language Affects Purchasing Decisions
Research from North Carolina State University and Clemson University in South Carolina suggests that the herbicide purchasing decisions of soybean producers are influenced by label statements.
A journal article, "The Effect of Label Information on U.S. Farmers' Herbicide Choices" written by Tomas Hasing, Carlos E. Carpio, David B. Willis, Olha Sydorovych, and Michele Marra was published in the August 2012 issue of the "Agricultural and Resource Economics Review." The full article can be found here: http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/132530/2/ARER%20201208%20200x214%20Carpio.pdf. Below is a summary of some of the highlights of the research findings.
The article begins by discussing farmers' reliance on pesticides and why pesticides are needed and used. The authors, who are economists, acknowledge that problems can arise with misuse of pesticides and that pesticide labels have been designed to minimize some of these issues.
A brief history of pesticide regulations then follows with mention of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act of 1947, its amendment in 1972, the Federal Hazard Communication Standard, and MSDSs. The authors state that "product labeling can be seen as a policy tool associated with the provision of health and environmental information (Teisl and Roe 1998) to align individual consumer choices with social objectives (Golan, Kuchler, and Mitchell 2000)."
I'm not an economist and my final grade in that class reflects that. However, I think this is an interesting statement. They point out that food labels have been studied intensely. With this in mind, the study objectives were "to estimate the effect of labeling information on farmers' pesticide choices.
"Specific objectives are (i) to estimate the relative importance of cost, a product's weed-control efficiency, and the human safety and environmental attributes displayed on product labels to farmers' herbicide choices; (ii) to estimate farmers' willingness to pay (WTP) for each attribute; and (iii) to compare the performance of models based on label information only with models based on information provided by labels plus MSDSs and other more technical sources of information." As a consumer and pesticide user, the authors had my attention.
In the article, the authors state, "the effective use of labels can reduce externalities to the environment, human and animal health, and agricultural productivity. Thus, it is important to determine whether the label information currently provided to farmers is sufficient for them to make informed pesticide choices." Certainly it would be beneficial for EPA and other policymakers as well as pesticide registrants, label writers, and even pesticide safety educators such as myself to understand farmers' responses to label information.
In the article, the authors provide much background about pesticide labels, including details about what information is found in labels such as the use classification and signal word. They even provide descriptions of what these things are, which is a nice inclusion for those who aren't intimately familiar with what is included in a pesticide label.
This research differs from previous work in that it focuses on label information that describes human safety and environmental impacts and how that affects what the farmers choose. "This study applies models to revealed-preference data collected from surveys of farmers." Yes, folks, models. And that's where this article review gets tricky for me because modeling is not my area of expertise. And I don't think it's because I'm not tall enough. Did I mention my less than stellar grade in Econ101? So, I think it's best if you read the article yourself to learn the specifics of the research methods and data analysis. For the purposes of this newsletter article, let's simply discuss some of the authors' conclusions.
"The statistical findings suggest that the model that used only label information is superior to the one that provided more technically complete measures of the risks associated with an herbicide. That is, farmers' choices are better explained by the information displayed on the herbicide label than by the published information presented in the MSDSs and technical sources."
MSDSs contain much information that is best understood at a fairly high reading level. There is something to be said for keeping information short, sweet, and easy to read. The authors suggest that if "regulatory agencies want farmers to base herbicide choices on the information displayed in MSDSs, that information must be easy for farmers to understand."
The results of this study show that "the human health and environmental statements displayed on pesticide labels that indicate elevated risk are important components in herbicide selection. For example, farmers are willing, on average, to pay $27 per acre to avoid using an herbicide labeled with "Warning," $38 per acre to avoid using an herbicide labeled with "Danger," and $15 per acre to avoid using herbicides with a warning about groundwater contamination. This suggests that pesticide companies can benefit by developing new products that are safer to use."
Certainly no one would argue with that last statement. I commend the authors for their work in the area and for opening up an interesting discussion. The dollar amounts are very interesting, and they seem surprisingly high to me. That extra price per acre would really add up. Also, in my discussions with farmers it has become clear that product efficacy is the bottom line when it comes to purchasing decisions.
Many farmers do not consider the signal word if they are already licensed to apply them all and have the appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) to protect themselves. In addition, many may be aware of a product's groundwater concerns but will purchase the product regardless and simply follow label directions so that groundwater contamination risk is minimized.
(Submitted by Michelle Wiesbrook.)
Scotts Miracle-Gro Violates Federal Pesticide Laws
Photo: The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) protects consumers against false pesticide label statements.
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, a producer of pesticides for commercial and consumer lawn and garden uses, has been sentenced in federal district court to pay a $4 million fine and perform community service for eleven criminal violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which governs the manufacture, distribution, and sale of pesticides.
Scotts pleaded guilty in February 2012 to illegally applying insecticides to its wild bird food products that are toxic to birds, falsifying pesticide registration documents, distributing pesticides with misleading and unapproved labels, and distributing unregistered pesticides. This is the largest criminal penalty under FIFRA to date.
In a separate civil agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scotts agreed to pay more than $6 million in penalties and spend $2 million on environmental projects to resolve additional civil pesticide violations. The violations include distributing or selling unregistered, canceled, or misbranded pesticides, including products with inadequate warnings or cautions. This is the largest civil settlement under FIFRA to date.
In the plea agreement, Scotts admitted that it applied the pesticides Actellic 5E and Storcide II to its bird food products even though EPA had prohibited this use. Actellic 5E contains the insecticide pirimiphos-methyl. Storcide II contains the insecticides chlorpyrifos-methyl and deltamethrin. Scotts had done so to protect its bird foods from insect infestation during storage. Scotts admitted that it used these pesticides contrary to EPA directives and in spite of the warning label appearing on all Storcide II containers stating, "Storcide II is extremely toxic to fish and toxic to birds and other wildlife."
Scotts sold this illegally treated bird food for two years after it began marketing its bird food line and for six months after employees specifically warned Scotts management of the dangers of these pesticides. By the time it voluntarily recalled these products in March 2008, Scotts had sold more than 70 million units of bird food illegally treated with pesticide that is toxic to birds.
Scotts also pleaded guilty to submitting false documents to EPA and to state regulatory agencies in an effort to deceive them into believing that numerous pesticides were registered with EPA when in fact they were not. The company also pleaded guilty to having illegally sold the unregistered pesticides and to marketing pesticides bearing labels containing false and misleading claims not approved by EPA. The falsified documents submitted to EPA and states were attributed to a federal product manager at Scotts.
At the time the criminal violations were discovered, EPA also began a civil investigation that uncovered numerous civil violations spanning five years. Scotts' FIFRA civil violations included the nationwide distribution or sale of unregistered, canceled, or misbranded pesticides, including products with inadequate warnings or cautions.
As a result, EPA issued more than 40 Stop Sale, Use or Removal Orders to Scotts to address more than 100 pesticide products.
In addition to the $6 million civil penalty, Scotts will complete environmental projects, valued at $2 million, to acquire, restore and protect 300 acres of land to prevent runoff of agricultural chemicals into nearby waterways.
For more information about the civil settlement and recalled products, go to http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/fifra/scottsmiraclegro.html.
For more information about EPA's criminal enforcement program, go to http://www.epa.gov/enforcement/criminal/index.html.
(EPA Pesticide Program Update of September 10, 2012, slightly modified by Phil Nixon.)
End-of-Season Pesticide Storage
With the end of the pesticide application season upon most of us, it's time to take stock of your, well… stock, and determine how to manage it over the winter months.
The best bet is to use up as much as possible while following the label directions. The less you have to store, the better off you'll be. If you find you're carrying over a significant quantity of pesticides year after year, it's time to review your use and adjust your orders accordingly.
Even the best planners usually have some product left at the end of the year. Below are some tips on storing pesticides, and to some extent fertilizers, until next spring.
• Be sure products are tightly sealed. Examine sacks/bags for tears and containers for leaks. If the container is damaged, place the product in a similar container with the product's label attached.
• Don't store products on bare soil, carpet or wood flooring where clean-up will be next to impossible. Store on sealed concrete, glazed tile or no-wax sheet flooring that's easy to clean and will prevent products from seeping into the ground if leakage occurs.
• Keep products on pallets off the floor to avoid cold transfer from the ground or concrete. Pallets are easier to move. Additionally, if product does spill or leak, the damage can be more easily discerned.
• Store herbicides separately from other pesticides. This applies year-round to avoid accidental contamination and misapplication.
• Separate liquid products from granules and products in paper/plastic sacks from metal or glass containers. If the products have to be stored near each other, store the dry products above the liquid ones to avoid contamination if the liquid containers were to break.
• Keep ALL products from freezing. The ideal temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold temperatures can break down the product, as well as cause the product to expand and break the glass, metal, or plastic container. (See chart below on determining if pesticides have broken down.)
• Store glass containers inside a metal or plastic container, though the metal or plastic container doesn't need to be sealed. The idea is to contain the product if the glass container accidentally breaks. An old coffee can or commercial food tin may do the trick.
• Make sure there's significant distance from pesticides to water sources. Burst pipes can cause metal containers to rust or paper to dissolve. If the possibility of moisture is high, store the pesticides in heavy-duty plastic garbage sacks or trash cans. Label the sacks or cans with the product's name.
• Check products weekly during the winter for signs of leakage; make sure to have absorbent material on hand to contain any spill.
For signs that pesticides have broken down (cold, heat, age), click here.(Sources: NPIC, University of Missouri. Submitted by David Robson.)
Are You Labeling Your Pesticide Service Containers?
Tip and pour service container courtesy of Gemplers.com
Photo: Service containers should always be clearly labeled before the pesticide is transferred.
Ideally, pesticides should remain in their original labeled containers until just prior to use. However, some applicators find convenience in transferring a pesticide to a smaller and more portable container. When an applicator transfers a pesticide into a new container for the purpose of that applicator applying the pesticide, the new container is classified as a "service container."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not regulate service containers or require them to be labeled. However, container requirements of OSHA and the DOT may still apply. If the repackaged product is to be sold or distributed, the new container will be subject to EPA pesticide container and repackaging regulations, label requirements, and all other pesticide- related regulations.
The requirements under these regulations are extensive and more work than a typical applicator would be willing to undertake. For this reason, the remainder of the article will focus on the use of service containers.
Many risks come with the use of the service containers. For one, the applicator is handling and risking exposure to concentrated pesticides more frequently than if he/she were solely using the original pesticide container. Transferring the pesticide to a service container also separates the pesticide from its original label.
As a result, valuable information describing the pesticide, its application instructions, and safety precautions are no longer carried with the product. In some situations, applicators could very easily lose track of and forget what pesticide is in the container, leading to hazardous and expensive waste.
How can you avoid the risks mentioned above? In terms of best management practices, the service container should always be clearly labeled before the pesticide is transferred. Never assume you will remember to label the product at a later date or that you will remember the contents several days, weeks or months later.
At the very least, the service container should be labeled with the following information:
Service Container Label
• Product name
• EPA registration number
• Name of active ingredient(s) and percentage(s) or end-use dilution
• Label's signal word: i.e., Poison, Danger, Warning, Caution
The information above will be important to anyone who encounters the service container. They will quickly be able to identify the product, its concentration, and potential toxicity. The EPA registration number will allow anyone to look up additional information on the product, including a label.
As a reminder, all pesticide labels state, "It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling." Therefore, a copy of the entire original label should also be easily accessible to the applicator at all times. Certainly, a copy would be best placed on the service container. The information provided in the label is critical to all stages of the application process.
The label should be reviewed before each application to help recognize changes between application sites and to achieve effective control while protecting yourself, others and the environment. Remember! Labels do change and any copies should be updated frequently.
(Submitted by Travis Cleveland.)