NPMA’s Regulatory Affairs team works diligently to track, analyze and influence regulatory activity at the state and federal levels. NPMA has worked hard to position the association as a resource for regulators, not an adversary. Smart, reasonable regulation is good for industry to ensure safety, professionalism and an even playing field nationwide. Here’s a recap of some of the regulatory issues facing the industry right now.
RODENTICIDE PRELIMINARY INTERIM DECISION
The structural pest management industry has eagerly awaited the publication of the Proposed Interim Decision (PID) for rodenticides for much of 2023. This highly anticipated document was originally expected to be published to the Federal Register in April, then pushed to June, then September. Now NPMA expects the document to be published before the end of the year, but the exact date is uncertain. In January of 2022, it was rumored that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was considering a proposal to designate all bulk rodenticides as restricted use pesticides and require rodent carcass searches following application. Restrictions like these would make rodenticides more difficult to purchase, create additional recordkeeping requirements, and limit use to certified applicators. EPA allows for trained, uncertified technicians working under the direct supervision of certified applicators to apply restricted use pesticides; however, some state regulations require on-site supervision or prohibit uncertified technicians from using RUPs altogether. NPMA staff continues to monitor this situation and has maintained communication with EPA regarding the unintended consequences for pest control and impacts on public health if such restrictions were put in place.
EDUCATING REGULATORS ABOUT STRUCTURAL FUMIGATION
In late September 2023, NPMA and the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials (ASPCRO) held a workshop hosted by the University of Florida School of Structural Fumigation in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Five EPA Office of Pesticide Program staffers from three divisions (Pesticide Re-evaluation, Health Effects and Benefits and Economic Analysis Divisions) joined state regulators from Georgia, South Carolina and Florida for a three-day workshop detailing the structural fumigation process. The workshop, which included expert instructors such as Sean Brantley (Emory Brantley and Sons Termite and Pest Control), Dr. Ellen Thoms (Ellen Thoms Consulting, LLC), John Sansone (Cardinal Products) and Dr. Thomas Chouvenc (University of Florida), featured both classroom-style education as well as the opportunity to observe a real-life fumigation of the UF “Hurricane House.” The workshop provided EPA staff with an opportunity to better understand the highly technical nature of fumigation and the current risk mitigation procedures that are in place to ensure safety. In 2021, EPA published proposed risk mitigation measures that included:
- Removing references to certain clearance devices from product labels, while retaining others
- Adopting nationwide aeration procedures comparable to the existing California Aeration Plan (CAP) method used in the state of California
- Enhancing posting/warning signs; requiring greater visibility and at all tarp seams
- Requiring Fumigation Management Plans for residential fumigations
- Enhancing registrant stewardship plans
This workshop is part of an ongoing dialogue with EPA on fumigation issues intended to help inform EPA’s response to extensive industry comments submitted in September 2021 regarding proposed label changes as well as the ongoing registration review for sulfuryl fluoride. As of the time this was written, EPA has not officially responded to the comments submitted by industry or proposed additional risk mitigation measures.
Participants at NPMA and the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials (ASPCRO) Fumigation Workshop held at the University of Florida School of Structural Fumigation in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
THE PESTICIDE REEVALUATION “CLIFF”
The timely review of pesticide registrations is vital to public health—delays in EPA’s registration review process can result in regulatory uncertainty, which burdens businesses that use critical pesticide tools to treat homes, schools, hospitals and other institutions for disease-carrying pests.
The U.S. EPA is congressionally mandated to conduct periodic review of all pesticide registrations on a 15-year cycle. On October 1, 2022, all pesticide products registered before October 2007 were expected to have gone through a complete registration review process. In a September 26, 2022 EPA announcement, the Agency reported that final decisions have been issued on just over 20% of their total cases (151 cases competed), leaving 575 cases unfinalized by the October 2022 “Pesticide Cliff.”
EPA has cited “a lack of resources to respond to ongoing and increasing litigation” as a contributor to this delay; litigation that is primarily being driven by anti-pesticide groups that root their claims in a desire to protect public health. These challenges to EPA are negatively impacting a like-minded group, the pest control industry, which also aims to protect public health, and does so by ensuring homes, places of work, schools and other establishments are pest-free.
U.S. Senator Stabenow (Chairwoman, Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry) and Senator Boozman (Ranking Member, Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry) sent a September 26th joint letter to the U.S. EPA expressing their concern with the (then) upcoming registration review deadline of October 1st, 2022. EPA Administrator Michael Regan later responded to both Stabenow and Boozman and addressed the questions that were laid out in their joint letter.
As of now, pesticides without finalized review as of the October deadline can remain on the market and be used according to the product label. EPA has affirmed its aggressive plan to review all remaining pesticide cases and issue decisions to protect humans, endangered species and the environment, while providing pesticide users with predictability about the legal status of pesticides in registration review. NPMA is actively monitoring the situation to ensure our member companies are prepared to make informed business decisions. If you have any questions, please reach out to J.D. Darr, Director of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, NPMA at [email protected].
HUD’S REAUTHORIZATION OF THE NPMA 99A & 99B FORMS
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires all HUD-insured new structures to be free of termite hazards. To ensure compliance, HUD requires the completion of HUD-NPMA-99A by the builder and HUD-NPMA-99B by a licensed pest management professional detailing proper treatment. Due to a September 30, 2022 expiration date, HUD-NPMA-99A and HUD-NPMA-99B are required to go through review and reauthorization through OMB in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35, as amended). NPMA has submitted comments on behalf of the industry. Following the comment period, HUD will then need to submit the form to the Office of Management and Budget for approval. In the meantime, the forms with an expiration date of September 30th will remain valid. We do not expect a new form approval before January 2023.
THE PESTICIDE REEVALUATION PROCESS
EPA reviews all pesticide registrations every 15 years as required by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The reevaluation process ensures that pesticides can be used for their intended functions without causing unreasonable adverse effects to human health and the environment. This review process takes multiple years to complete.
Step One: Work Plans
EPA establishes a public docket for a registration review that contains information about the pesticide, anticipated risk assessments and data need, along with a timeline for completion, and then opens the case for public comment.
Step Two: Focus Meetings
To enhance transparency and engage stakeholders including registrants and user groups like NPMA, EPA encourages information gathering sessions to better understand how each pesticide is used and potential label issues.
Step Three: Information Gathering
EPA reviewed all available data regarding risks, benefits and impacts of a pesticide and determines if new data is needed based on changes in use patterns or risk potential (including an assessment of impacts on endangered species). As risk assessments and benefit analyses are completed, they are shared with the public for feedback.
Step Four: Decision Making
A Proposed Interim Decision is published to the docket, which takes into account everything that EPA has learned from the previous steps, and comments are sought from the public. After reviewing and responding to feedback from stakeholders, EPA then publishes the Interim Decision, which may result in changes in how the pesticide is used. A Final Decision is not published until a full endangered species consultation has been completed.
By Jim Fredericks, Sr. Vice President, Technical and Regulatory Affairs and J.D. Darr, Director, Regulatory and Legislative Affairs