What chemicals are the companies spraying above Waimea, Kauai and what are the long term effects on humans and animals?
Submitted by: mckiel
Expert response from Wendelyn Jones
Director of Global Policy and Scientific Affairs, DuPont Pioneer
Tuesday, 17/05/2016 11:01
Crop protection products are used in Hawaii – and elsewhere – to help farmers protect their crops. These products may include insecticides (to manage insect pests), herbicides (to control weeds) and fungicides (for disease management). Without these products, it is estimated that 40 percent of crop harvests would be lost due to pest damage. One only needs to look to backyard vegetable gardens to see how significantly these pests can impact growing plants.
All of the crop protection products used in Waimea, Kauai have been reviewed and approved by both the U.S. Government and the State Government of Hawaii. Any pesticide must first meet a stringent set of regulatory requirements, governed by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), before it is “registered” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and before it can be distributed or sold in the United States. The Agency evaluates the data on each pesticide and assesses any potential adverse effects the product may have on humans and on the environment.
The first step in assessing risk is hazard identification. In the hazard identification step, EPA considers the full spectrum of potential health effects that may occur from different types of pesticide exposure. Step two is the dose-response assessment, which is determined by observing the dose levels that create harmful effects in test animals and then used to calculate what an equal dose would be in humans. Step three is the exposure assessment, which includes acute and chronic risks from sources including dietary exposure (food and water), occupational exposure, and if appropriate, cumulative risk from dietary plus non-dietary exposures (e.g., flea and tick control on pets, lawn applications, ant sprays, etc.).
EPA recognizes that effects vary between animals of different species and from person to person. To account for this variability, uncertainty factors are built into the risk assessment. These uncertainty factors create additional margins of safety (generally ranging from 10 to 1,000 fold) for protecting people who may be exposed to the pesticides.
On the basis of this evaluation, EPA then determines if it will allow the use of the product, and, if so, at what application rates and under what conditions (for example, the requirement for buffer zones). The EPA sets the conditions for use of the product and requires the conditions be placed in labeling instructions that a user must follow. Finally, as part of its re-registration process, the EPA formally reevaluates registered products periodically to determine if it should continue allowing their use.
As you specifically ask about long term effect, per EPA requirements, all pesticides must undergo chronic toxicity/carcinogenicity testing. These studies assess the potential adverse effects from chronic exposures over the life time of test species. The EPA uses the results of these studies as part of its risk assessment. Further, the Agency evaluates long-term chronic exposure for consumers through diet, and for workers, to arrive at a conclusion regarding safety under the conditions of use.
For more information about EPA’s requirements and oversight, visit: https://www.epa.gov/safepestcontrol.