Illinois Pesticide Review
May / June 2011
In This Issue
Spanish Pesticide Labels – Should They Be Required? EPA Seeks Input
Some pesticide labels are available in both English and Spanish. Currently, the official and enforceable version of a pesticide label is the English one. Migrant Clinicians Network, Farmworker Justice, and other farm worker interest groups have requested to EPA that all pesticide labels be available in both English and Spanish.
EPA is seeking public comment about this and you have a chance to voice your opinion. Please note the website and the specific questions from EPA below. Comments are being accepted by EPA until June 28, 2011.
Initially, it seems like a great idea. For many pesticide applicators, Spanish is their native language. Removing the language barrier would likely increase user safety and help protect the environment. However, there are several obstacles/considerations to making this a reality. Here are just a few that I can think of today:
• Pesticide labels are already long and complicated and there is on ongoing effort to shorten and increase readability of labels. Would the inevitable increased length decrease compliance for both English and Spanish speaking pesticide users? It is required that both language versions appear on the container.
• How many states have a sufficient number of regulatory inspectors and licensing program staff members who are fluent in both English and Spanish? Illinois does not.
• How many states have a sufficient number of Pesticide safety education specialists and program staff members who are fluent in both English and Spanish. Again, Illinois does not. University of Illinois Extension has encountered severe cuts for both funding and staff in recent years.
• Does EPA or industry have a sufficient number of staff members who are fluent in both English and Spanish? My guess is no.
• What will this cost? Budgets are tight across the board. This won't come cheap for anyone involved.
In the Federal Register notice, EPA states that labels in English and Spanish could be required for all, or a subset of, pesticide products. Bilingual labeling could be required for 1) certain types of pesticide products, 2) certain use sites, 3) products containing particular active ingredients, 4) products of particular acute toxicity categories, or 5) entire labels or 6) portions of pesticide product labels.
The EPA notice is at
The petition and EPA's March 30, 2011 Federal Register notice announcing it are available in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0014 at Regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
EPA has indicated that responses to the questions below would be especially useful.
For the general public:
Language characteristics vary by culture, region, and other factors.
How could EPA ensure that Spanish text on pesticide product labels would be understood by all potential Spanish-speaking users?
Labeling in Spanish could potentially be required for all pesticide products, for a subset of pesticide products, or for a portion of the product label. If the Agency concluded that translation of a portion or portions of the label were appropriate, which portions of the pesticide label would it be most beneficial to have in Spanish, and why? If the Agency were to limit the requirement for translation to only certain products, which products should be considered, and why? (Note: please see the sample label in the docket to consider the different sections of a pesticide label.)
Are there languages other than Spanish and English that EPA should consider for inclusion on pesticide labels? Which languages? Please explain your reasoning for including a language other than Spanish or English on pesticide labels, and cite documents that would further bolster your suggestion.
For people exposed to pesticides (e.g., farm workers, lawn and landscape maintenance workers, structural pest control technicians, commercial and residential cleaning staff, residential users of pesticides, children, pregnant or nursing women, older adults, others) and advocacy groups:
Please describe how having labels available in English and Spanish could increase or decrease pesticide user safety.
How do you currently obtain information in Spanish regarding a pesticide product?
Please describe how farm workers, their families, and others exposed to pesticides could benefit from this proposal.
Would this proposal affect your day-to-day work? If so, how?
Which parts of pesticide labeling, if any, would be most valuable to have translated into Spanish, and why? (Note: please see the sample label in the docket to consider the different sections of a pesticide label.)
Would having a Spanish translation of labeling be more important for some types of products than for others? Please describe why this would be so. And if so, how should EPA select products that would bear bilingual labeling?
What effect would the availability of bilingual labeling have on users' understanding of label text?
Would pictograms or other non-language methods of communication be beneficial for communication of labeling requirements?
Do you currently sell or distribute any pesticides with Spanish labeling (other than as required by 40 CFR 156.206)? If so, why have you decided to do so and what effects has the use of Spanish labeling had on the marketing or safety of using these products? Can you quantify or give examples of any added costs or benefits that have resulted from providing your products' labels in English and Spanish?
What additional economic costs and/or benefits would you anticipate from having your products' labels available in Spanish as well as English? Costs might include translation, printing, or packaging. Benefits might include improved market penetration or improved customer good will. Besides any increased monetary costs, would there be other obstacles to printing bilingual labeling on your pesticide products?
How could electronic media be used to facilitate distribution of bilingual or multilingual labeling?
Apart from bilingual labeling, what past and current efforts have you made to communicate with customers or potential pesticide users who do not speak or read English fluently? What have you found to be effective or ineffective?
If you provide Spanish labeling, do you provide it on products nation-wide or only in targeted regions? Why?
How could EPA implement the petitioners' proposal or a version of it efficiently and equitably?
Please explain whether there are any portions of a product's labeling that would not need to appear in both languages.
For the state pesticide regulatory community and the enforcement community:
Are there state or local laws that conflict with the proposed bilingual labeling?
What potential benefits or obstacles would a federal recommendation or requirement for bilingual labeling pose to the state regulation of pesticide products?
What potential benefits would bilingual labeling provide and what potential costs or obstacles would bilingual labeling pose to enforcement activities?
Do you know of any inspection or enforcement actions involving bilingually labeled products where the presence of two languages on the label has compromised bringing the action to closure?
Do you know of any enforcement actions that have been taken because of, or compromised by, inaccuracies in labeling translation?
Do you know of misuse incidents, poisonings, or other mishaps for which the lack of availability of bilingual labels may have been a contributing factor?
Would a requirement that pesticides bear bilingual labeling increase or decrease the ability of people to use pesticides safely and effectively? Why?
If pesticide products are required to carry labeling in Spanish, what effects, if any, would you anticipate on state pesticide applicator certification programs?
(Michelle Wiesbrook, information gathered from the FR notice and from an email sent to American Association of Pesticide Safety Educators members on 5/10/11.)
Pesticide Misuse in Bed Bug Control
There have been several recent instances of insecticide misuse associated with bed bug control. They have occurred in various parts of the U.S. and have involved the use of malathion, carbaryl, and fipronil labeled for outdoor use.
There was also a recent report from Thailand blaming chlorpyrifos used to control bed bugs in a hotel for the death of one and severe illness of two other young women from New Zealand. In previous months, two elderly people and a middle-aged person died mysteriously in the hotel. Investigations into these illnesses and deaths are ongoing.
The use of chlorpyrifos in this case was a legal use in Thailand, but it is surmised that it may have been heavily over-applied. Chlorpyrifos was used indoors for several decades in the U.S. until registration for indoor use in the U.S. was voluntarily withdrawn by the parent company at the end of 2001. Reductions in usage were imminent under the Food Quality Protection Act, and there had been numerous human illness reports associated with its use indoors.
Pesticides formulated for use outdoors commonly contain different solvents and carriers than those used indoors. Although proper for use outdoors where volatile chemicals easily disperse into the open air, these solvents and carriers can become a health problem when confined in indoor spaces. In addition, they can be absorbed by paint, varnish, and other indoor surfaces where they may volatize over an extended period of time. Many of these solvents and carriers can also damage indoor finishes.
In the past, cleanup of improperly applied pesticides has been to wash down surfaces to remove pesticide residue. Stripping or sanding off contaminated paint and varnish followed by reapplication of new finishes has been recommended in severe cases. Initial investigation by EPA into these recent misuses for bed bug control indicates that these methods may not remove sufficient pesticide residues. This may result in new EPA cleanup guidelines in the future.
In summary, fipronil is used in indoor cockroach and ant baits. Malathion and carbaryl used to have labeled indoor uses as well. When a pesticide labeled for outdoor use is applied indoors, solvents and carriers in that formulation are likely to be as much or more of a threat to human health than the active ingredient.
Joint Hearing in House Looks at Pesticides and Endangered Species
There has always been a relationship between pesticide registration and regulation and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Recent regulatory inefficiencies as well as a series of lawsuits related to ESA could limit the availability of pesticides for growers. A hearing was held in May in St. Louis to address some of the industry concerns.
Witnesses testifying at the hearing included experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and state regulators.
The Pesticide Policy Coalition (PPC), chaired by National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Director of Public Policy Rod Snyder, also submitted written testimony raising concern about inconsistent scientific studies between the three federal agencies charged with overseeing the ESA.
"It is important to note that EPA's Ecological Risk Assessment Guidelines have been thoroughly reviewed and evaluated, both internally by EPA scientists and by scientists external to EPA," the PPC's testimony pointed out. "Rather than following the EPA Guidelines, NMFS used an unvalidated, unpublished, non-peer-reviewed population model to predict population effects and relied on questionable data and obsolete pesticide labels and application practices."
At the hearings, AFBF's stance was perhaps a little different. Vice President Barry Bushue testified, saying, "The duplication of the risk assessment requirements for crop protection registration by EPA and for consultation by the Services is a prime example of the duplication and waste that exists in our federal agencies."
Bushue went on to say, "The current process is not effective for anyone, including growers, regulators and endangered species." According to Bushue, the NMFS opinions, which rely on worst-case scenarios and flawed models, significantly conflict with existing EPA rules.
Last month, NCGA requested to intervene in an ESA lawsuit filed in January by the Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network of North America, both groups with an anti-pesticide slant. The suit alleges the EPA violated the ESA by improperly reviewing the impact of more than 300 pesticides on almost all federally listed threatened and endangered species during the permitting process. Surely, species and pesticides used in the Midwest are included.
This "Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief" is being described as a "mega" lawsuit at 411 pages long. The press release from the Center for Biological Diversity describes this as a "Landmark lawsuit filed to protect hundreds of rare species from pesticides".
In March, EPA filed for a 90-day stay in court proceedings. The NCGA is not alone in their involvement in this case. Others have filed papers to be granted intervener status in efforts to keep EPA from settling the suit, including Crop Life America, Western Plant Health Association, and American Farm Bureau Federation.
There has been a long history of ESA lawsuits related to inadequate consultations between the agencies in the last decade. Many have been focused in other regions of the U.S. In July 2009, the Center of Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue in order to force the EPA to protect polar bears in the Arctic from pesticide contamination. Yes… polar bears. Yes… the Arctic. This latest law suit is in our neighborhood and it's one we need to pay attention to. As always…stay tuned for more information.
SOURCE: National Corn Growers Association, http://californiaagnet.com, http://www.agprofessional.com/newsletters/dealer-update/articles/AFBF-Crop-protection-registration-is-broken-121243179.html, and an email from EPA.
The following article was written by Andrew Thostenson, North Dakota State University (NDSU), and published in the January 2011 issue of Pesticide Quarterly, the NDSU pesticide education program newsletter.
Thostenson is the President-Elect of the Association of American Pesticide Safety Educators (AAPSE). AAPSE provides pesticide safety information and education to pesticide educators across the U.S. and a larger voice on national pesticide issues than individuals. Each of the University of Illinois Extension PSEP campus-based educators is a member of AAPSE.
"At the time of this writing, I am reflecting on a SFIREG meeting I just attended in Washington, D.C. SFIREG, you say? What's that? The State Issues Research and Evaluation Group is a network of state officials interested in federal/state "co-regulation" of pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). It was established by the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials (AAPCO) with financial support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As part of its cooperative agreement with AAPCO, EPA is substantially involved in SFIREG. Essentially, SFIREG is an advisory group that the EPA uses as a sounding board to understand and appreciate pesticide regulatory problems.
Twice a year, for a day and a half, about 30 members meet to hear concerns and make recommendations to the EPA about how to more effectively regulate pesticides. In addition, another 10 or 15 EPA folks, along with another 30 to 40 industry people, sit in either as observers or presenters at the meeting. Finally, SFIREG has two working subcommittees that meet twice per year at another time and place. About 30 to 40 people participate in each of these gatherings. I participate in SFIREG as an associate member, meaning I do not get to vote, but I do get to voice my opinions. I am an "associate" because I represent pesticide safety educators, who are not directly involved in designing or implementing pesticide regulations. Thus, I am not a "full" voting member of SFIREG. If you are still with me, be patient; the point is coming.
What you have with SFIREG is federal regulators (EPA) meeting with state regulators (the North Dakota Department of Agriculture) to explore how best to regulate the regulated community (custom applicators, dealers, fumigators, farmers, golf course superintendents and basically anyone involved in using pesticides). If that sounds a bit bureaucratic, you are correct, it is. But then, it is perhaps one of the few ways in which real-life concerns actually can be elevated to the attention of people who can make changes with respect to pesticide rules and regulations.
On the one hand, I hate having to go to these events. But on the other, I think it is something I need to do because it is the best opportunity I have to voice comments that I hear when I am out conducting trainings or taking telephone calls from frustrated applicators. Another positive I (and you) receive through SFIREG is that I get a front-row seat to hear about proposed regulations well before they ever are shared with the general public. I take that information and try my best to explain it to you at trainings and on the pages of Pesticide Quarterly. My hope is that with the most current news, you will be able to make better decisions.
In my dealings with SFIREG participants, I more often than not get the impression that they are genuinely concerned about developing regulations that ultimately work out for the best for everyone in our country. But inevitably, they cannot know the motivations and practical problems faced by an applicator out spraying leafy spurge on rangeland near Anamoose, N.D. They just can't.
That is why participating fully in the electoral process is so important for you. That means more than helping out with campaigns and voting. It means picking up the telephone, writing an e-mail or showing up at a hearing and voicing your concerns to your elected representatives or appointed public officials. Otherwise, you are relying solely on the best judgment of well-intentioned people in a meeting room in Washington, D.C. to make decisions about what is best for you and your operation. While this might be OK in theory, it seems to me it is not in your best interest."
Prior to each SFIREG meeting, each EPA region conducts a pre-SFIREG meeting. The most recent meeting locally was held on May 4-5, 2011 at the EPA Region 5 offices in Chicago. At these meetings, state regulatory officials from the region (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) meet with regional EPA personnel to discuss proposed SFIREG items and to initiate items to be discussed at SFIREG. One of these state officials, the current pre-SFIREG chair, attends and carries these items to the SFIREG meeting in Washington, D.C.
University extension pesticide safety educators from the region are invited to these pre-SFIREG meetings. Because travel to Chicago is easier for University of Illinois Extension PSEP educators than for those of other states, one of us tries to be present at each meeting. This month, I was able to attend and represent extension PSEP programs at this pre-SFIREG meeting. Two PSEP educators from Ohio State University also attended. The article in this newsletter on bed bug pesticide misuse was based on information presented at this meeting.
PSEP on Facebook
The Illinois PSEP team launched a Facebook page in order to provide current, up-to-date information related to pesticide issues, pesticide training, and safety. It's our intent to keep the information light and quick to read, referring those interested in social media to various websites and articles.
With the Facebook social network, we can quickly provide training updates this coming season if weather becomes an issue. We can feature current articles and issues that might appear between publications of the Illinois Pesticide Review.
We will have links to our state PSEP website, as well as other relevant pesticide-related websites.
If you'd like to see our posts in your Facebook newsfeed, type in "University of Illinois Pesticide Safety Program" in the Facebook search engine. Then "like" us.
While it's not the best way to reach us, it is a quick way, and we are always willing to answer pesticide-related questions.
Tank Mixing Order Application for iPhones
Precision Laboratories has developed an iPhone application (app) to help pesticide applicators determine the correct mixing order for their tank mixes.
With the wide variety of pesticides, adjuvants, and micronutrients available to applicators, tank mixes can quickly turn into complex lists, and the potential for a physical incompatibility and other problems is increased. Applicators who ignore this risk can end up mixing a tank full of spray that turns to sludge or a mix that may look fine but fails to work properly.
In order to ensure that you don't end up with a compatibility issue, you need to make sure you use good mixing techniques and follow the correct mixing sequence when adding the various products to your spray tank. The Precision Laboratories app to assist with this sequence is called Mix Tank. It will run on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, provided they are running iOS 4 or later.
An internet connection is required to run the app, because the products within each list are downloaded from the internet to your device. This way, as new products are added to the app, they will automatically appear in the product lists.
You can, however, run the app without an internet connection since the lists of products are temporarily stored on your device. If you plan to use the app offline, such as might happen if you are using an iPod Touch, you need to first run the app where you can connect to the internet. With an iPod Touch you can do so with a wireless network connection. Go through and view all of the product lists once. This will load the products onto your device. Then, when you run the app offline, all of the products will be there. You will get a warning that you need a network connection, but you can simply tap "Ok" and the app will keep running, using the product lists previously downloaded.
You will want to occasionally run the app with a network connection and reload the products on your device to make sure you keep current with any new products added to the app.
When opened, Tank Mix displays a list of product types for you to use to select your individual products. This list includes herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, adjuvants, and foliar nutrition products. Two different numbers are given for each product category to indicate 1) the number of products currently selected in each category and 2) the total number you can select. To select an individual product, first select the category. A complete list of the products in that category is then displayed alphabetically.
To find products, scroll through the list or use the search window located at the top of the screen. To scroll more quickly, you can jump to products beginning with a specific letter by using the slide bar on the right side of the screen. As you select products, a check mark appears to the right of the product name.
When you have selected all of the products within that category, select "Done" to return to the main selection window. If you select "Back", your selected products will not be saved. From the main selection window, select other product classes to choose additional products to be added to the spray mixture. The herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides menus take you directly to the list of products. Adjuvants and Foliar Nutrition menus take you to a screen where you choose the type of adjuvant or foliar nutrition product you wish to add, which then takes you to the list of products within that category. As before, selected products will have a check mark appear next to them. Make sure to hit "Done" if you wish to save your selections – hitting "Back" will return you to the previous menu but will clear your selections.
Once you have selected all of your products, tap "Get Mixing Order". Before generating the mixing order, an important information screen is displayed that lists cautions about using liquid fertilizers, using a mixing vat or inductor, and performing a compatibility test. Select "Continue" to generate the mixing order. A numbered list of the products you selected appears, indicating the correct order in which these products should be mixed into the spray tank.
If you wish to save this order for future reference, you can enter a name at the top of the screen and select "Save Mixing Order". If you wish to refer back to this saved mix order at a later date, you can choose "Saved" at the bottom right of the screen, and a list of all of your previously saved tank mix orders will load. Simply choose the one you wish to view to have it displayed again.
Currently this app is only available for iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad users. Precision Laboratories is planning on making it available for other smartphone platforms in the future. However, all you really need is one person in your organization to have a compatible device because the mix orders can be shared with others via email, Facebook, or Twitter so anyone with access to a computer or smartphone (iPhone or otherwise) can receive the mix order. To share the mix order, select "Share" in the upper right corner of the mixing order page. Then choose the option for how you wish to share it.
The app also contains several other features, including a section that describes all of Precision Laboratories' agricultural products by product type. Information includes details, features, use rates, and packaging information. Selecting "Test Kit" will lead you to a screen where you can order their compatibility test kit, which comes with everything you need to carry out an accurate compatibility test including bottles, pipettes, and instructions.
To download the app, you can use either your computer or iPhone. From your computer, you can go to Precision Laboratories' webpage (http://www.precisionlab.com/) and follow the link for "Mix Tank App for iPhone". This will lead you directly to the iTunes site where you can download the app. Obviously you must have the iTunes software installed on your computer for this to work. When you connect your iPhone to your computer, the Tank Mix app will be loaded on the iPhone.
Alternatively you can load the app directly to your iPhone from the App Store. Simply select the search menu, and type in Precision Laboratories, then Tank Mix should come up in the list. You can then load it onto your iPhone. There is no cost for the Tank Mix app. Precision Laboratories has also recently launched this app in an online version available for any computer with an internet connection. It is available here: http://www.mixtankapp.com/onlineapp/index.php
Tank Mix from Precision Laboratories can help you determine the correct mixing order for your tank mixes, which will greatly reduce your chances of encountering compatibility problems. Tank Mix is not the only iPhone application out there for spraying. In future articles, I will highlight some other apps for smartphones that can assist with making applications.
Fumigating Stored Grain – Who Regulates?
Both the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Illinois Department of Public Health regulate pesticide applications (fumigation) to stored grain.
Farmers and other private applicators can treat or fumigate their own stored grain by adding the Private Grain Fumigation category with the Private Applicator License. They must pass their Private Applicator License exam before they can take the Private Grain Fumigation category exam. These exams and licenses are issued by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
Once the grain moves from the farm to a commercial grain elevator, employees of the grain elevator can treat the grain with a Grain Facility Pest Control Commercial-Not-For-Hire Applicator license if the grain is meant for livestock or other non-human food use.
A person can also treat that feed grain if they have a Commercial-Not-For-Hire Operator license and are working under the supervision of a person with a Grain Facility Pest Control Commercial-Not-For-Hire Applicator license.
The Grain Facility Pest Control Applicator license requires passing the General Standards exam and the Grain Facility Pest Control Applicator exam. The operator license only requires passing the General Standards exam. Both exams and licenses are issued by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
If the grain being stored in the elevator is meant for eventual human food use, treatment with a pesticide must be conducted by a Certified Technician with a Fumigation subcategory license or a person certified to work under that person's supervision.
Among other requirements, the certified technician must pass the General Standards exam and the Fumigation subcategory exam. A certified person working under the Certified Technician must pass the General Standards exam.
Both exams and licenses are issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health. These certifications are required even if the person doing the application is employed by the elevator. The General Standards exam for this licensing is different from the examination administered by the Illinois Department of Agriculture even though they have the same name.
If grain in any elevator, whether meant for human consumption or not, is treated by an outside firm for hire, that person must be a Certified Technician or be certified to work under a Certified Technician by the Illinois Department of Public Health. The requirements are the same as for treating grain meant for human consumption described above.
(Phil Nixon and James E. Schuster)