Last week, a coalition of 14 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require pesticide manufacturers to disclose all of the hazardous ingredients on their product labels. Currently, the EPA requires pesticide labels to disclose only the “active” ingredients that are intended to kill insects, weeds or other target organisms. The coalition also wants the EPA to require “inert” ingredients to be listed on labels because they may pose undisclosed health and environmental hazards.
Inert ingredients can comprise as much as 99 percent of a pesticide. Some of these inert ingredients are known or suspected causes of cancer, liver and kidney damage; nervous system disorders; and other birth defects.
As public awareness of pesticide exposure continues to rise, growers need to be aware of the most current regulations. Because pesticides are such an important item for horticulture industry, any change in their regulation can potentially have a huge impact on growers’ operations.
“Under current EPA labeling requirements, a pesticide ingredient must be disclosed only if it is harmful to pests, not if it is harmful to people and the environment,” remarked New Jersey Attorney General Zulima V. Faber.
The formal request for the labeling changes came from the attorneys general of 14 states including Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. The U.S. Virgin Islands also is participating in the petition.
“If you are buying a pesticide and there is a hazardous chemical in that product, you have a right to know that,” said Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran.
According to an EPA spokesperson, the agency believes its current labeling requirements ensure the safety of humans and the environment, and it is reviewing the petition and will “respond in an expeditious manner.”