On November 1, 2011, the federal requirement for an NPDES permit for certain pesticide applications went into effect. Illinois EPA (IEPA) is the lead agency on the NPDES permit process. You can view the NPDES permit at http://www.epa.state.il.us/water/permits/pesticide/index.html. It is recommended that you print the permit and read the parameters and definitions. A federal court ruled that pesticides applied to, over, or near water are now regulated under the Clean Water Act in addition to being regulated by FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act).
In an attempt to explain this complex program in simple terms, IFCA (Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association) has created a short summary, which we have modified slightly and featured here. Pesticide applicators can use this to determine if a permit may be required for their pesticide application activities.
When are NPDES Permits Required?
The NPDES permit applies to the following pesticide application use patterns when the pesticides are applied to or over waters of the State or at water's edge for the following:
1. Mosquito and Other Insect Control
2. Weed and Algae Pest Control
3. Animal Pest Control
4. Forested Areas Pest Control
5. Other Pest Control Activities
IEPA will issue coverage under the General NPDES permit for pesticide applications directly to, over or at water's edge for waters of the State, using products that are labeled for aquatic use and thus are applied in a manner where they may leave a residue on water. (You cannot obtain an NPDES permit to apply a pesticide directly to water that is NOT labeled for aquatic use. Such an application would be a violation of FIFRA.) The application of non-aquatic use pesticides to ditch banks, or at water's edge, also requires NPDES permit coverage and is eligible for coverage under the General Permit.
If a pesticide is applied to water, and no NPDES permit is obtained, both the landowner and the applicator may be held liable for a violation of the Clean Water Act.
Example Situations Which Require a Permit:
• If you apply pesticides labeled for aquatic use to water, you will need to obtain an NPDES permit.
• If you are an aerial applicator and will perform pesticide applications over forested areas where pesticides may be deposited to water below the forest canopy, you will need to obtain an NPDES permit. This could also apply to applications to kill nuisance trees in water, such as willows, etc.
• If you apply pesticides to standing water to treat for mosquitos, you will need to obtain an NPDES permit.
• If you apply pesticides to water, such as to drainage ditches, streams, or other waters of the State, you will need to obtain an NPDES pesticide permit. Private landowners are not exempt from obtaining a permit if they themselves apply pesticides to such waters even on their own private property.
• If you apply pesticides to a pond with an overflow outlet, you will need to obtain an NPDES pesticide permit. Private ponds that have no overflow outlet or are not otherwise hydrologically connected to waters of the State do not require an NPDES permit for pesticide application. A pond with an overflow outlet has a hydrologic connection to water that flows within or throughout the state. Again, private landowners are NOT exempt from obtaining a permit if they themselves apply pesticides to such waters even on their own private property.
Who Should Obtain a Permit?
The person actually applying the pesticide may apply for the NPDES permit, or a person who is in control of hiring an applicator to perform the operations may apply for the permit. Companies or state agencies are recommended to obtain the permit rather than the actual applicator; then all applicators working for the company would have coverage under the NPDES permit. For landowners, it may be simplest to hire a person or company to both obtain an NPDES permit and make the application.
How Do I Apply for a Permit?
• File a Notice of Intent (NOI): Entities or operators who wish to apply for an NPDES permit may go to the IEPA website at http://www.epa.state.il.us/water/permits/pesticide/index.html and submit a "Notice of Intent" to apply for coverage under the General NPDES permit. You will check the use patterns for which you will be applying pesticides to water (or at water's edge), and describe where in the state (county, territory) you will be applying these pesticides. The complete and accurate NOI will then be posted on the Agency's web site for a period of 14 days. IEPA will mail a letter of coverage at the end of the 14 day posting. If you do not receive a letter AND if you are not notified by the Agency to submit additional information, you will be automatically authorized to discharge under the terms and conditions of the permit 30 days after the date the NOI is received by the Agency. Plan accordingly. The NOI is due at least 14 days prior to making the pesticide application. You could have to wait as much as 30 days to apply your pesticide. If you receive a coverage letter, you can apply sooner.
• Consult about endangered species: You must consult with the IL Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to determine if any endangered species exist within the area you intend to apply pesticides as identified in your NOI. Go to www.dnrecocat.state.il.us/ecopublic to access a website to determine the presence of endangered aquatic species. IDNR will evaluate your application and notify you if endangered species are present or not. You must keep a record of the IDNR notifications, but these records do not need to be provided to IEPA.
What do permits cost?
There is currently no fee for an NPDES pesticide permit. However, fees have been proposed.
How long are permits good for?
The General NPDES permit is issued for a period of five years.
Is anything else needed besides the permit itself?
• Adverse Incident Reporting is required. If the permit holder experiences an adverse incident related to a pesticide application covered under the General NPDES permit, they must report the incident to the IL Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) immediately and submit an Adverse Incident Report to IEPA within 15 days.
• Recordkeeping may be required. IEPA has defined annual treatment area thresholds that trigger recordkeeping and other requirements in the NPDES permit. These annual treatment area thresholds shown here are taken from Section 2.2, Table 3 of the NPDES permit. IEPA has also included several exemptions from some of the permit requirements. These exemptions are found in Sections 5.0 and 7.0 of the NPDES permit.
If you exceed the annual treatment area thresholds and do not meet one of the other exemptions, then you must also complete a written Pesticide Discharge Management Plan (PDMP). An "application" for threshold purposes means the application of a certain type or mix of pesticide. If the type or mix does not change, then subsequent applications to the same treatment area are not counted again toward the threshold. However, if you change pesticide mixes and treat the same area a second time, that counts as an additional treatment toward the threshold amount.
For Example: You treat a 10 acre pond with Pesticide A. Ten acres is counted toward the threshold amount for that treatment site. If you treat the pond again with a different pesticide within a year of the first application, you now have 20 acres toward your annual threshold limit. But if you treat the pond a second time with the exact same pesticide, the second application does not count toward the threshold limit. The area treated at each separate site by a permittee is added together and counts towards the annual treatment area threshold for each use pattern.
IEPA has a sample PDMP posted on the website for applicators who exceed the threshold amounts to use.
The person or entity holding the NPDES permit must retain all the required records. Permittees who do not meet the definition of a small entity, and who exceed the annual treatment area threshold amounts for application, must also submit an annual report to IEPA. Small entity is defined in the permit and includes, but is not limited to small businesses which meet the Small Business Administration criteria at 13 CFR 121.201.
Things to Keep in Perspective
• You cannot obtain an NPDES permit to apply a pesticide directly to water that is NOT labeled for aquatic use.
• The General NPDES permit only applies to pesticide applications that will be made directly to or over water, or at the water's edge. For most agricultural pesticide applications, an NPDES permit will not apply.
• Applications made to dry ditches, which discharge to waters of the State, may also require general NPDES permit coverage.
• Off target spray drift and stormwater runoff, which may contain pesticides or residues from an application to a farm field or home lawn, to waters of the State are NOT subject to an NPDES permit.
• If a government entity issues a "declared pest emergency" that requires a pesticide application that would meet the requirements for an NPDES permit, the application may commence immediately, and the pesticide operator or entity may apply for the NOI no later than 30 days after the emergency application began.
• You must file an updated Notice of Intent to modify your NPDES permit coverage to add additional use patterns or treatment areas at least 14 days prior to beginning the pesticide applications.
• Obtaining NPDES general permit coverage for pesticide applications directly to or over water or at water's edge provides protection under the Clean Water Act. If you believe you have any circumstance where you will be applying pesticides to water, treating for mosquitos or applying pesticides to forest canopy areas or to water's edge, you should apply for the general permit and secure protection from legal action under the Clean Water Act. Violations of the Clean Water Act can be up to $32,500 per day.
• Those who have an aquatic, mosquito or rights of way category on their pesticide license should carefully review the NPDES permit (it is 35 pages) and determine if your activities after November 1, 2011 subject you to the permit.
• Please contact us if you have general questions – David Robson (217) 244-5724 or Michelle Wiesbrook (217) 244-4397. For questions that relate directly to the permitting process, you should contact the IEPA Division of Water Pollution Control Permit Section at (217) 782-0610.
• This summary attempts to highlight the main points of the NPDES permit process and its applicability to pesticide applicators in Illinois. It is not inclusive of all the requirements or nuances of the permit process.
What does NPDES mean to you, in simple terms?
1. NPDES permits are required for pesticide applications made to or over waters of the State or at water's edge whether you spray privately or commercially; whether the land is private or public.
2. If water is "hydrologically connected," meaning it flows through your property at one time or another (it doesn't have to be continually flowing), you will need a permit in order to spray. Swimming pools, borrow pits (large ponds near interstates), and backyard ponds with no water flowing in or out aren't included.
3. Waterways and ditches that flow are "hydrologically connected."
4. "Near the water's edge" is purposely vague, but you need to use your best judgment and protect yourself with a permit if needed.
5. Permits are free.
6. Apply online with the IEPA.
7. Penalties may be severe. While IEPA doesn't have a large enforcement arm, they are required to handle complaints, and anyone can file a complaint.
8. This isn't something that the IEPA wanted to do. In fact, their action is in response to the USEPA losing a lawsuit and being forced to have states implement rules pertaining to surface water and pesticide use.
9. Congress has had the opportunity since 2009 to rectify the problem granting preference to FIFRA. Several bills were introduced in both chambers and hearings have been held; no action has occurred.
For more information, please read our document, "NPDES Permits for Pesticide Application: A Summary for Illinois Applicators" also found in this issue. Stay tuned for a Frequently Asked Questions document that should help clarify matters even further.
Morgellons, also known as Morgellons Disease, refers to the condition in which people have sores on their skin that contain variously colored fibers. It also includes situations in which people feel that they have insects or mites crawling on, biting, stinging, or burrowing into the skin. It is not a medically recognized condition.
When investigated, no insects or mites are found. Various causes have been suggested, including dry skin, low relative humidity, medications, and other diseases. It has been suggested that sores can be self-inflicted by unconsciously scratching irritated skin while asleep or awake.
Under low relative humidity conditions, static electricity attracts carpet fibers, lint, tiny strands of fiberglass insulation, paper dust associated with computer and office paper, and other debris to the skin where it causes irritation.
The sensation of crawling insects on the skin has been reported by diabetics with long-term insulin use and is a symptom of restless leg syndrome. Individuals have also been diagnosed as having delusional parasitosis, which is the false belief that insects, parasites, or other creatures are on or in them.
Results have just been released of a study in northern California of this condition. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study was initiated in 2008 at the request of California Senator Dianne Feinstein due to numerous reports of Morgellons in that state. The study was conducted on patients of Kaiser Permanente, which is an integrated managed care consortium representing about 30% of the population of 13 northern California counties.
Kaiser Permanente identified 104 out of their 2.3 million patients who had recent physician records of this complaint. In addition, eleven people with this condition outside of the Kaiser Permanente health group were included in the study after they volunteered and met the study's criteria.
Individuals in the test group as well as a control group not reporting this condition were subjected to a battery of physicals, dermatological, neuropsychological, neurocognitive, and other medical tests. Fibers and other items associated with sores as well as found on undamaged skin were collected and analyzed.
The results of the study were that fibers associated with patient sores consisted of cotton and other materials commonly found in clothing and other fabrics. They were no different than those found on undamaged skin. There were no insects, mites, other creatures, or parts of them associated with the skin sores. It was also determined that there were no medical diseases or conditions associated with Morgellons other than the Morgellons symptoms themselves. The strongest associations were that 63% exhibited cognitive deficiencies not associated with IQ and 50% had drugs detected in hair samples.
This study did not prove that Morgellons does not exist. It is impossible to prove a negative, so no study can ever do so. All that research can do is to prove that something does exist and determine the causes of it.
The summarizing statement of the study is as follows: "This unexplained dermopathy was rare among this population of Northern California residents, but associated with significantly reduced health-related quality of life. No common underlying medical condition or infectious source was identified, similar to more commonly recognized conditions such as delusional infestation."
The study's published report titled "Clinical, Epidemiologic, Histopathologic and Molecular Features of an Unexplained Dermopathy" written by Michelle Pearson, et al. and published in the open access journal PLoS One can be found at http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0029908.
A book titled "Pesticides and Health, Myths vs. Realities" by Allan Felsot, Washington State University Professor and Extension Specialist of Entomology and Environmental Toxicology, was published in May 2011 by the American Council on Science and Health. It is available for purchase as a print book, or a free PDF version may be downloaded at http://www.acsh.org/publications/pubID.1962/pub_detail.asp
This book presents a compelling argument for the continued value of pesticides in food production and disease vector protection while contending that their impact on the environment is reasonable considering their benefits. This argument is made by repeatedly presenting myths associated with pesticides and a rebuttal to that myth, followed by a lengthy discussion of the rationale for the rebuttal. Reference is made of many published research studies that support these assertions. Numerous graphs and tables from these studies are included.
Topics addressed include agricultural pesticide use, public health pesticide use, synthetic pesticide chemistry, modern pesticide application, pesticide hazard and risk, endocrine disruptors, pesticide regulation, and analyses of the concerns associated with atrazine, chlorpyrifos, pyrethroids, and glyphosate.
Before being employed at Washington State University, Dr. Felsot was a researcher in Environmental Toxicology at the Illinois Natural History Survey in Champaign. He is an ardent research scientist and impassioned speaker and writer. While at INHS, he conducted many scientific studies addressing the environmental effects of insecticides and other pesticides.
One of his accomplishments was developing the practice of pesticide disposal by land application. He showed that the effects on the environment were much less than several other methods of pesticide disposal. Today, this is a standard method of disposing of pesticide spills and other unwanted pesticides. He is a frequent guest speaker at University of Illinois agricultural conferences.
Recently, a major juice company alerted the U.S Food and Drug Administration that low levels of a banned fungicide, carbendazim, were found in several brands of orange juice products being marketed.
The source of the fungicide was reported to be from the 2011 Brazilian orange crop where the carbendazim fungicide was applied to combat black spot on citrus. Carbendazim is not approved for use on citrus in the U.S.; however, it is allowed under Brazilian law. This occurrence warrants a brief overview of pesticide residues and how they are regulated in the U.S. food supply.
The regulation of food containing pesticide residues is governed under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). This act mandates three government agencies to provide regulation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) establishes a tolerance level for all registered pesticides. The tolerance level is the maximum amount of a pesticide residue that may be legally present in or on a raw agricultural commodity marketed in the United States.
The EPA determines specific tolerance levels by considering the toxicity of the pesticide (and its break-down products), the frequency and amount of applications, as well as the amount of pesticide that remains on the food by the time it is marketed.
The initial tolerance levels are based on anticipated residue data collected from field trials under which pesticides are applied at the maximum rate, the maximum number of applications, and with minimum pre-harvest interval allowed by the approved label.
The goal of the trial is to determine the maximum residue likely to result from the legal application of a pesticide. Common agronomic practices rarely require applications to field trial levels, and as a result, residue levels are often considerably less.
Two agencies are responsible for enforcement of the EPA's tolerance limits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) enforces tolerances for meat and poultry products, while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for other food products.
These agencies have the authority to detain, seize, refuse or destroy any domestic and imported products that have been determined to be adulterated with pesticide products.
In reference to the orange juice situation, no tolerance limit or exemption from the tolerance limit had been established for carbendazim at the time of detection. Therefore, according to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, any detectable presence of this fungicide was illegal. In response, the EPA conducted a preliminary risk assessment to determine any potential health hazards associated with consumption.
Based on this assessment, the EPA and FDA determined that the low levels of carbendazim detected in orange juice were safe and that no recall was warranted. However, the FDA promptly initiated detention and testing of all orange juice imports for the next several months. Any shipments found to contain in excess of 10 parts per billion of carbendazim will be refused.
Although the source of the orange juice contamination was foreign, all growers should be reminded that our food supply is being monitored by government agencies as well private companies. The easiest way to avoid costly issues related to pesticide residues is to closely follow the directions and recommendations given on a pesticide's label.
Residues from legal applications will rarely exceed EPA tolerance levels and warrant FDA action. Also, consider the fact that pesticides, their labels, and our knowledge of their ingredients are subject to change. As a result, the tolerance levels may be revised. Failure to abide by current tolerance levels could result in a loss of value of the commodity or a potential confiscation and destruction of the product.
Frequent questions are "how long is a pesticide good for?" and "how long should I keep a pesticide?" Pesticides in general are manufactured, formulated, and packaged to specific standards. However, when stored improperly, they can break down in storage, especially under conditions of high temperature and humidity.
Some pesticides can lose their activity through chemical decomposition or volatilization. Dry formulations such as wettable powders (WP) or granular (G) can become caked and compacted; emulsifiable concentrates (EC) can lose their ability to form emulsions. Some pesticides can actually become more toxic, flammable, or explosive as they break down.
Pesticide formulations that contain low concentrations of active ingredients generally lose effectiveness faster than more concentrated forms. Sometimes a liquid pesticide develops a gas as it deteriorates, making opening and handling containers quite hazardous.
Certain pesticides have a characteristic odor. A strong odor in the storage area may indicate a leak, spill, or improperly sealed container. It may also be a clue that the pesticide is deteriorating, because the smell of some chemicals intensifies as they break down. If none of these problems are found, chemical odors can be reduced with exhaust fans, or by lowering the temperature of the storage area.
Pesticide containers (including fiber and metal drums, pails, cans, bottles, bags, boxes, overpacks and liners) have an important effect on storage and shelf life. If stored for long periods, these containers may eventually corrode, crack, break, tear, or fail to seal properly. Also the label may become illegible.
Pesticides, if stored in a cool, dry area that is out of direct sunlight, will generally have an extended shelf life. In general, properly stored pesticides will retain their effectiveness for at least three to five years. Biological pesticides, such as Bacillus thuringiensis, tend to have shorter shelf lives than chemical pesticides.
Protection from temperature extremes is important because heat or cold can shorten a pesticide's shelf life. At temperatures below freezing, some liquid formulations separate into their various components and lose their effectiveness. High temperatures cause many pesticides to volatize or break down more rapidly. Extreme heat may also cause glass bottles to break or explode. Storage temperatures should not exceed 100 degrees F frequently or for extended time periods.
One way to ensure you won't have shelf life or storage problems is to buy only what you think you will need for one season. So many times we buy the sale item because it's a 'deal'. What we find out is that we only needed a small portion and now we have to store the leftover chemical. A good tip is to write the date you purchased the product on the container itself or the label. There are no expiration dates on pesticides, so this will serve as a reminder regarding how old the product is.
If you have to store chemicals, read the label and follow any specific guidelines listed. Store different groups of pesticides, such as herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides in separate locations within a storage area to prevent cross-contamination from fumes, vapors, and accidental use of the wrong container. Never store chemicals near any type of animal feed. Always store out of the reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet.
(Martha A. Smith, Horticulture Educator, University of Illinois Extension)