Illinois Pesticide Review
September / October 2013
In This Issue
- PSEP Online Training
- Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites
- Neonicotinoids in Garden Centers
- Handy Advice for Choosing the Right Chemical-Resistant Safety Gloves
- New Pesticide Labeling for Bee Protection
- Free Training on Herbicide-Tolerant Crop Stewardship Now Available
- Do You Have a Plan?
- Special Issue of Science Focuses on Smarter Pest Control
PSEP Online Training
University of Illinois PSEP offers several online training modules to prepare you with information in order to take the IL Department of Agriculture category exams. These training modules include:
• Plant Management (for managing interior plantscapes)
• Grain Pest Management
The latter two category trainings can be accessed from the PSEP website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/psep/articulate/
Look for information about the Private training modules at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/privatepsep/
You still must take the specific exams in order to be licensed. These tests are NOT available online; you must test in person at one of the test-only or category testing sites. (You cannot take the Plant Management or Grain Pest Management tests the first day of the 2-day commercial clinics; those exams are only offered the second day. You can take the Private test either day.) Refer to the PSEP website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/psep/ to view the schedule for these dates. The dates will be posted after November 1.
Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites
If you have material considered hazardous waste, which means it cannot be disposed of in a regular landfill, there are still options available for you.
The IL-EPA has designated two landfills in Illinois to accept hazardous waste, one in Cook County and the other in Peoria County.
For more information on these sites, check out "Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites" on the IL-EPA website at http://www.epa.state.il.us/land/waste-mgmt/haz-waste-sites.html
Neonicotinoids in Garden Centers
Friends of the Earth recently published a pilot study on neonicotinoid insecticides found in bedding plants purchased at Home Depot, Lowe's, and Orchard Supply Hardware in California, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C. The published 33-page report is at http://libcloud.s3.amazonaws.com/93/60/a/3130/Gardeners_beware_report_8-13-13_final_updated.pdf. The research results are presented in five pages with an additional five pages of materials and methods.
The research involved the analysis of 13 small, herbaceous plants for the presence of neonicotinoid insecticides in the ground-up plant material consisting of stems, leaves, and flowers. Various levels of the neonicotinoids acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam were found in the analyses. They are all labeled for use on bedding plants. The results and conclusions repeatedly state that this is a pilot study that cannot be used to make generalizations about the insecticide content in garden center plants in general. It is also stated that levels of these insecticides are typically lower in the nectar and pollen primarily consumed by pollinators.
However, much of the report suggests the use of consumer pressure to get retail outlets to sell only plants that were not treated with neonicotinoids and to stop selling neonicotinoid insecticides in order to save bees and other pollinators. The report also encourages the public to pressure EPA and other government agencies to put a moratorium on the use of all neonicotinoid insecticides on plants attractive to pollinators until further research is conducted. This portion has been picked up by various advocacy groups and is being promoted through various mass media.
There are research studies showing that clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam applied as seed treatments get into the pollen of some plants and affect honey bee and bumblebee colony survival even at relatively low levels. Various research studies indicate that acetamiprid and dinotefuran apparently are not problematic in nectar or pollen when applied according to the label. The recent incidents in Oregon of bumblebee kills from dinotefuran applications were the result of off-label applications.
The new labeling to protect pollinators discussed in another article in this newsletter is an effort by EPA to reduce the impact on pollinators by neonicotinoid insecticides.
Handy Advice for Choosing the Right Chemical-Resistant Safety Gloves
As every applicator knows, gloves (among other personal protective equipment) should be worn to protect against contact with pesticides. However, choosing the right glove for the job may be a bit confusing, especially when using a variety of pesticides.
Glove selection should begin by reviewing the labels for all the products being used. All product labels give options for the types of glove material to wear. These options are not random selections but are based on the ability of that material to withstand the pesticide formulation for the longest time. Recommendations may be found in the "Precautionary Statements" section of the label. The lowest level of hand protection allowed on a label is no gloves. However, specialists recommend applicators wear some form of chemical-resistant gloves even when none are required. Other commonly used label recommendations for hand protection, and the EPA's interpretations of the statements, are provided in Table 1.
In addition, some label statements provide chemical-resistance category letters, which indicate the type of solvents used in the pesticide formulation. Table 2 provides information on various gloves types and their ability to resist these chemical solvents. Where specific information is given, use only the glove materials listed on the label for that product. Do not assume that one type of glove will work for all the pesticides you may use.
New Pesticide Labeling for Bee Protection
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) instituted new pesticide labeling requirements on August 15, 2013 to better protect honey bees and other pollinators. Recent research on the honey bee, bumblebees, and other insect pollinators have shown that pesticide use is partially involved in colony collapse disorder (CCD) of honey bees and the decline of other pollinating insects. There have also been several off-label applications of the insecticide dinotefuran, particularly in Oregon, that have drawn attention to this issue.
The neonicotinoid insecticides imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin, and dinotefuran, have received the most attention. Imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin move systemically through the plant and into the pollen. Pollen is collected by foraging honey bees, carried back to the hive, and fed to the larvae in the colony. This has been shown to cause severe hive reductions as well as affect the ability of the adult bees to function.
Other insecticides are important as well. Carbaryl dust, wettable powder, and liquid formulations have long been known to affect honey bee hives. In recent years, formulations containing more finely ground particles of carbaryl have greatly reduced this concern. Microencapsulated formulations of insecticides are also deleterious to honey bees. The microcapsules and the older carbaryl formulations were the correct size to be confused as pollen by foraging honey bees. In recent years, the particle sizes of several microencapsulate formulations have been changed to reduce this problem.
Recently, research studies have shown links between some fungicide applications and honey bee reductions. Honey bees, like us and other animals, use microorganisms within their guts to help digest their food. Fungicide applications have been linked to a die-off of these beneficial microorganisms in the digestive systems of honey bees, resulting in reduced fitness and increased mortality.
Insect pollinators include not only the honey bee, but also many other species including bumblebees, carpenter bees, alkali bees, leafcutter bees, and other bees. In addition, wasps, many flies, butterflies, moths, and numerous beetles are important pollinators. Besides insects, hummingbirds and bats are important pollinators in the U.S.
The EPA has developed new pesticide labels that prohibit use of some neonicotinoid pesticide products where bees are present. The new labels will have a bee advisory box and icon with information on routes of exposure and spray drift precautions. See the accompanying figure for the bee advisory box with explanation of its content. The label change affects products containing the neonicotinoids imidacloprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The EPA will work with pesticide manufacturers to change labels so that they will meet the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) safety standard.
In May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and EPA released a comprehensive scientific report on honey bee health, showing scientific consensus that there are a complex set of stressors associated with honey bee declines, including loss of habitat, parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure.
EPA continues to work with beekeepers, growers, pesticide applicators, pesticide and seed companies, and federal and state agencies to reduce pesticide drift dust and advance best management practices. The EPA recently released new enforcement guidance to federal, state and tribal enforcement officials to enhance investigations of beekill incidents.
Submitted by Phil Nixon with portions from an EPA news release.
Free Training on Herbicide-Tolerant Crop Stewardship Now Available
Dicamba and 2,4-D tolerant crops are currently under development. Their use could be widespread within a few years, which would result in a dramatic increase in the number of acres being treated with these herbicides. Unfortunately, for some, these phenoxy herbicides have a "slightly tarnished" reputation for their drift potential and past injury. Questions and concerns about the injury potential to non-target plants have started to arise from vegetable growers, landscapers, and homeowners in-the-know. Some corn and soybean producers are concerned as well.
In an attempt to address some of these concerns, University of Illinois PSEP Specialists have created a new online training that is available for free on the PSEP website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/psep/articulate/. Although this training was developed with herbicide-tolerant crop (HTC) growers in mind, it is also intended to be useful for a much broader audience.
This training includes information on preventing injury. By understanding the off-target movement of herbicides better and by knowing what factors contribute to it, applicators can more easily take preventative steps. Information is provided here on typical injury symptoms that result from exposure to PGR or auxin herbicides as their use is expected to greatly increase. Injury diagnosis assistance and resources for handling injured plants and communicating with neighbors are shared as well. We plan to build on the current training modules as application specifics are determined for the new technologies.
Please share this resource with your various clienteles.
Do You Have a Plan?
Suppose you're filling a tank with insecticides, and a coupling breaks at the back spewing pesticides everywhere like a fireman's hose, covering you and others with pesticides.
Suppose you're driving down the road and something happens, and pesticides start leaking, not drop by drop, but a steady stream from the container.
Suppose you're at a client's home and the same thing happens, covering not only you but maybe others with the product.
Do you have a plan?
Pesticide accidents can happen anytime and anywhere though we can minimize the potential of problems. It's like the Mel Brooks song from The Twelve Chairs: "Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst."
Hopefully if an accident happens, it will be small and easily contained and not problematic. Hopefully.
When a spill does occur, the first thing to do is stop the spill from worsening. If a container tips over, righting it may be all you need to do. If tanks, couplings, hoses or nozzles break, it may be more difficult to stop the leak.
And of course, as soon as the leak is stopped, find out if anyone has been contaminated in some way, shape or form. Then contain the spill.
It sounds so easy, yet when something happens "crisis-mode" may not be a common-sense mode. Adrenaline kicks in and remaining level-headed can be difficult.
So, what can you do?
• First, plan ahead. Get your staff together and think of the worst case scenarios, and then outline steps you'd take if those situations did occur. Have employees gather around during a down time, over lunch, or some planned training time and pose problems that could happen during work. Lead the group, but also let them lead.
• Have practice drills. Fill tanks with pure water. Release couplings. Use old hoses and nozzles that leak. Practice. Practice. Practice. Sometimes all the practicing may lapse into a comical situation, but keep workers involved and stress the importance. Don't just practice once. Have several over the course of a season.
• Make sure every employee has reviewed the MSDS sheets. You may want to do this as a group, with each person looking at the same copy but different employees taking the lead when discussing one product. For restricted use products, focus on the environmental and health hazards. Again, this may be something done once-a-month at staff meetings. Also, make sure each vehicle has a copy of the MSDS sheets for the specific pesticides being used when on a job.
• When using restricted products, carry an extra set of clothes sealed in plastic bags in case of contamination, though having some of the TyVek and related barrier cloth suits is the best. When covered accidentally with pesticides, modesty shouldn't be an issue – get out of the drenched clothing and put on clean clothes.
• Make sure there are eyewash bottles, wash units, and/or showers where someone can quickly wash off any contamination, especially if there is a problem during the mixing and loading stage. This is where most contamination and problems occur.
• Keep emergency numbers handy. It might be wise to make sure every employee has a business card-sized listing of emergency numbers, including the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (800-782-7860). Cards should also be placed where visible in vehicles, such as on dashboards or consoles.
• Create a Mishap Management Plan. Go over the steps that employees need to take, and make sure employees can practically recite the steps back from memory. Don't hesitate to quiz someone any time and any place over what to do.
• Read the label over and over and over and over. Our memories aren't always as great as we think they are. Not only read how to mix the product and use, but also the human and environmental health hazards.
• Buy the safest product (human/pet/environment) possible for the job at hand. There's lots to weigh here including cost and amount of pesticide being used. But when all else is equal, go with the safer product even if more might need to be used. And ALWAYS, follow the directions on the label for determining the rate.
Like the instructions on the shampoo bottle, "practice and repeat." Keep at it. Don't become complacent, which can be easy to do especially when rushed. With deference to the Boy Scouts, "be prepared."
Special Issue of Science Focuses on Smarter Pest Control
I admit I was surprised to see that Science magazine has an entire special issue covering pesticides and "smarter pest control" as they call it. The issue dated August 16, 2013 can be found at this link: http://www.sciencemag.org/site/special/pesticides/index.xhtml. Recent special issues explore topics such as antibodies, exoplanets, morphogenesis, and quantum information processing. Who knew pest control would be added to the line up?
The issue begins with "The Pesticide Paradox," which is a brief introduction to the topic that does a fairly decent job of outlining some of the major benefits and negative impacts of pesticide use. Use in other counties is discussed. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but to me it's easy to tell which side of the debate the authors are on just by reading the last sentence, "We may never be able to abandon pesticides altogether, but as this collection of Reviews, News stories, and research papers shows, pest control can become much smarter, and science has a major role to play." Although they make a good point, I think many would argue that pesticides are here to stay. I don't know of any producers who would "abandon them altogether". "Abandon" is an interesting word choice.
The issue includes these editorials, reviews, and "news focuses":
• Current Challenges and Trends in the Discovery of Agrochemicals
• Pivoting the Plant Immune System from Dissection to Deployment
• Evaluating Pesticide Degradation in the Environment: Blind Spots and Emerging Opportunities
• Wildlife Ecotoxicology of Pesticides: Can We Track Effects to the Population Level and Beyond?
• Unlocking the Mystery of Bee Health, Without a Moment to Lose
• Pesticide Planet (Infographic)
• A Lethal Dose of RNA
• The War Against Weeds Down Under
• Vietnam Turns Back a 'Tsunami of Pesticides'
• In Rural Asia, Locking Up Poisons to Prevent Suicides
• Growing Up With Pesticides
From the link above, there are podcasts on the above topics as well.
Be sure to check out the Infographic featuring a "global look at the uses, benefits, and drawbacks of pesticides." It's interesting to see where the U.S fits into the use patterns – much less pesticide is used here in than in Europe and Asia. The summary at the top concludes with "But herbicides, insecticides, and their kin can harm the environment and are dangerous to workers if improperly used." Yes. Agreed.
The stat they cite of "98% of farm poisonings go unreported" is for Central America. I know many poisonings go unreported in the U.S. and many incidents are confused with heat stroke and other illnesses. However, with our rules and regulations, we have a pretty good emphasis here for safety (though I may be a bit biased). Certainly this percent would be much lower in the States.
Weed science is my area of study so I found "The War Against Weeds Down Under" to be of particular interest. The article discusses how ryegrass came to be such a problem in Australia and how growers are using mechanical controls such as the "Harrington Seed Destructor" (which sounds awesome) and windrow burning to combat herbicide-resistant ryegrass. They don't call using these weed control methods IPM in the article but really that's what it is. They do call it "guerrilla warfare" which sounds much cooler. Also cool is that U of I Weed Scientist, Dr. Pat Tranel is quoted in the article.
As reported in "Vietnam Turns Back a 'Tsunami of Pesticides'", there is a big push in that country now to get farmers to use less pesticide after years of spraying "whenever they thought it was needed – which was often". They blame heavy marketing and misunderstandings about pest control for the harm that has been done to beneficial insects and bird populations. They are now encouraging the use of IPM and have a "no spray in the first 40 days" campaign. There is even a proposed law that "calls for licensing pesticide dealers and government approval of advertisements to prevent exaggerated claims."
The inclusion of the article on suicide prevention in an issue titled "Smarter Pest Control" is peculiar. An article focused more on application safety would have been better I think. Guns are less prevalent in rural Asia so pesticides such as methyl parathion are the method of choice for suicide. Recent research has focused on designing a pesticide lockbox that can be buried by the farmer and hidden from others who are looking to end their despair quickly. Waterproof, UV-resistant plastic turned out to be a better material to use than cement or flimsier materials that were trampled by elephants. And we think we have pesticide storage problems where we live.
"Growing Up With Pesticides" discusses long-term effects of organophosphate exposure during pregnancy and life's early years. Not only did they look at children of field workers, but they also studied low-income inner city families that had become exposed during indoor insecticide applications. Their results are alarming but not everyone is convinced and replications are needed. The article finishes with a nice plug to buy organic produce.
"Current Challenges and Trends in the Discovery of Agrochemicals" is a good read – particularly the first half and the last paragraph. We've seen fewer and fewer new active ingredients (AIs) come into the market over the years and this article discusses why. Cost is certainly a big factor. "The R&D costs to bring a new AI to market have been rising (from U.S. $152 million in 1995 to $256 million in 2005), as have the number of compounds synthesized to deliver one new market introduction (from 52,500 in 1995 to 140,000 in 2005)." In addition to cost, major challenges are increasing regulatory safety margins and resistance to the target pests. The investments of research and development time and dollars often go to the discovery of new pharmaceuticals rather than for new agrochemicals, especially if there is an unmet medical need.
Warning: if organic chemistry wasn't your major in college, you may not want to attempt a few sections in this article. Just kidding. Kind of. I did alright in organic chemistry but I fear I may very well have nightmares tonight that I'm about to take a chemistry test I'm in no means prepared for. Unfortunately, much of this article is quite challenging to read and understand for the average non-chemist.
I have yet to read the other articles or listen to the podcasts featured in this special issue. If you check them out, please share your thoughts with us.