American Bird Conservancy Petition to EPA to Revoke Import Tolerances of 13 pesticides

 

 

 

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) requests that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revoke the import tolerances for the following pesticides: cadusafos, cyproconazole, diazinon, dithianon, diquat, dimethoate, fenamiphos, mevinphos, methomyl, naled, phorate, terbufos, and dichlorvos. These pesticides are highly toxic to birds, and are used in crops that many species of U.S. migratory birds use as habitat during the winter months when they migrate to Latin America. All of the pesticide uses for these tolerances have been cancelled in the U.S., most with the determination that they present environmental risks to birds. Approval or maintenance of import tolerances for hazardous pesticides is tantamount to giving U.S. approval to foreign countries for the use of pesticides known to present hazards to U.S. migratory birds. American Bird Conservancy believes it is the obligation of the EPA under the requirements of Executive Order 13186 to avoid or rescind regulatory actions that adversely affect migratory birds.

Billions of U.S. migratory birds over-winter in countries that currently have registrations for these pesticides, including the major countries listed for importation of coffee, bananas, citrus, other fruits, and vegetables. Many coffee farms (especially shade grown) resemble a natural rain forest, and provide valuable habitat for neotropical migratory birds. These birds may potentially be exposed to pesticides that have import tolerances. Maintaining a U.S. import tolerance allows Central and South American countries to continue using these pesticides on crops for which the U.S. has already determined there are unacceptable risks for protected U.S. migratory birds. American Bird Conservancy believes the EPA must act immediately to protect U.S. migratory birds on their wintering grounds as well as in the U.S. by cancelling import tolerances for these pesticides. Doing so will not only potentially save millions of neotropical migratory birds but will also encourage the use of legal, safer pesticides and non-chemical practices by foreign growers, at least for those crops that are imported into the U.S.

Furthermore, the EPA has an obligation under Executive Order 13186 to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to “identify where unintentional take reasonably attributable to agency actions is having, or is likely to have, a measurable negative effect on migratory bird populations, focusing first on species of concern, priority habitats, and key risk factors. With respect to those actions so identified, the agency shall develop and use principles, standards, and practices that will lessen the amount of unintentional take, developing any such conservation efforts in cooperation with the (US Fish and Wildlife)Service” (EO 13186, Section 3(9)).

 

ABC believes allowing an import tolerance for the listed pesticides of concern constitutes an agency action that is likely to have a measurable negative effect on species of concern as well as other protected species under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 703-711). ABC further believes that for these tolerances the development of a MOU is unnecessary, because risk assessments developed by EPA Office of Pesticide Programs Environmental Fate and Effects Division (EFED) have already identified the environmental hazards and risk to birds from these pesticides.

EPA additionally has a statutory responsibility for protecting endangered (Endangered Species Act of 1973, 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544) species, many of which are also migratory bird species. EPA must identify all pesticides whose use may cause adverse impacts on endangered and threatened species and to implement mitigation measures to address the adverse impacts. Because EPA cannot impose pesticide use mitigation measures on other sovereign nations, the most effective and immediate action EPA can take to fulfill their statutory obligation is to revoke the import tolerances on hazardous pesticides. If, in spite of EPA’s Environmental Fate and Effects Division’s risk assessments, EPA believes import tolerances for these pesticides are necessary, consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service is required before allowing such tolerances.

 

Below is a list of unregistered or cancelled U.S. pesticides hazardous to birds that have current import tolerances. We have included information regarding avian toxicity, and the crop use for the pesticide. These pesticides are particularly toxic to birds, and many of them are used in granular formulations, which present increased hazard for birds foraging for grit. In addition, for active ingredients formerly registered in the US we report the number of incidents from ABC’s Avian Incident Monitoring System (AIMS) database. This information is necessarily incomplete, because most of these pesticides have been cancelled in the US for years.

 

Incidents documented in the AIMS database are listed, but ABC believes these incidents are significantly underreported. EFED acknowledges this fact, and has given specific reasons in several Registration Eligibility Decisions (REDs). For example, the phorate RED (2006) states that “The absence of documented incidents involving non-target terrestrial organisms does not necessarily mean that such incidents do not exist. Mortality incidents must be seen, reported, investigated, and submitted to EPA to be recorded in the database. Incidents may not be noted because the carcasses decayed in the field, were removed by scavengers, or were in out-of-the-way or hard-to-see locations. Poisoned birds may fly off-site to less conspicuous areas before dying. An incident may not be reported to appropriate authorities capable of investigating it because the finder may not be aware of the importance of reporting incidents, may not know who to call, or may be hesitant to call because of lack of time or desire or because the kill occurred on their property”. The pesticide responsible for the kill may also not be discovered through normal selective analytical procedures, as it is not possible to analyze for all pesticides simultaneously. Fungicides are usually not evaluated in wildlife kills even though the avian toxicity of many fungicides is high.

 

In conclusion, ABC requests that EPA revoke the import tolerances for cadusafos, cyproconazole, diazinon, dithianon, diquat, dimethoate, fenamiphos, mevinphos, methomyl, naled, phorate, terbufos, and dichlorvos. These pesticides are toxic to birds and present an unacceptable risk to migratory birds.

Thank you in advance for your prompt consideration of this petition. We eagerly await your written response.

Respectfully submitted,

Michael Fry, PhD
Moira A. McKernan, PhD



References:


EPA. 1995. Reregistration eligibility decision for Diquat Dibromide. Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA. 1998. Reregistration eligibility decision for methomyl. Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA. 2002. Interim reregistration eligibility decision for fenamiphos. Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA. 2006. Reregistration eligibility decision for Cadusafos. Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA. 2006. Reregistration eligibility decision for Diazinon. Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA. 2006. Interim reregistration eligibility decision for dimethoate. Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA. 2006. Reregistration eligibility decision for Naled. Environmental Protection Agency.

Federal Register: 66 FR 3853, January 17, 2001. Executive Order 13186

 

Mineau P, A Baril, BT Collins , J Duffe, G Joerman, R Luttik. 2001. Reference values for comparing the acute toxicity of pesticides to birds. Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 170:13-74.

Schafer Jr EW, WA Bowles Jr, J Hurlbut. 1983. The acute oral toxicity, repellency, and hazard potential of 998 chemicals to one or more species of wild and domestic birds. Archives of Environmental Toxicology 12:355-382.

Appendix: Annotated list of Active Ingredients:

Cadusafos
Type of chemical – organophosphate insecticide
Formulation – granular (2-20 g active ingredient/plant)
Import tolerance commodity - banana
Acute toxicity
HD5 *= 6.33 mg/kg bw (Mineau et al. 2001)


*HD5 (Hazardous Dose 5%) represents the LD50 at the 5% tail of susceptibility. At this dose half of the individuals of a sensitive species at the 5% tail of susceptibility would be expected to die.
AIMS incidents – none, as this pesticide has never been registered in the U.S.

 

EPA estimated that cadusafos is used on about 10-15% of the annual banana imports into the U.S. EPA stated in the 2006 RED that “Because cadusafos is not currently registered for use in the U.S., only a human health dietary assessment from exposure to this chemical through food was necessary”. The principal countries exporting bananas treated with cadusafos to the U.S. are Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Columbia, Mexico and Honduras. These countries provide habitat for significant numbers of migratory birds, and the continued use of this pesticide overseas, particularly in granular form, is an unacceptable risk to these birds.

 

Cyproconazole
Type of chemical - azole fungicide
Formulation – liquid
Import tolerance commodity – green coffee beans
Acute toxicity
HD5 = 14.22 mg/kg bw (Mineau et al. 2001)
AIMS incidents - none

No RED or IRED available.

Diazinon
Type of chemical - organophosphate insecticide
Formulation – soil spray or granule
Import tolerance commodity – kiwi fruit, not a registered crop use in the US
Acute toxicity
HD5 = 0.59 mg/kg bw (Mineau et al. 2001)
LD50 = 1.44 mg/kg bw in mallard duck (EPA RED 2006)
LD50 = 69 mg/kg bw in brown-headed cowbird (EPA RED 2006)
2.00-3.16 mg/kg in red winged blackbird (Schafer et al. 1983)
110-316 mg/kg in starling (Schafer et al. 1983)
4.22 mg/kg in coturnix quail (Schafer et al. 1983)
AIMS incidents – 417, # of birds = 4854

 

EPA states in the 2006 RED that “diazinon poses unacceptable risks to agricultural workers and to birds and
other wildlife species” and “EPA has identified ecological risks of concern from diazinon use, particularly to
birds, mammals, bees, fish, and aquatic invertebrates”. Mitigation measures such as cancelation of most
granular registrations, deletions of aerial applications and foliar applications, reduction in application rates,
establishment of REIs (restricted entry interval) of 2-19 days, and cancellation of all seed treatment uses were instituted. These mitigation measures may not be conducted overseas, and continued use of granular formulation will have the most significant impact on avian wildlife. Diazinon is highly toxic to birds, and, as EPA stated in the 2006 RED “Almost all granular formulations are pre-plant, soil incorporated. However, not all granules become incorporated, and birds will also forage below the surface of the soil leading to the possible consumption of buried granules”.

 

Dithianon
Type of chemical - fungicide
Formulation – wettable powder, suspension concentrate
Import tolerance commodity- Fruit, pome, group 11 (apples, crabapple, pear, quince, loquat); hop, dried cones
Acute toxicity
HD5 = 5.294 mg/kg bw (Mineau et al. 2001)
AIMS incidents – none

No RED or IRED available.

Diquat
Type of chemical - herbicide
Formulation - liquid
Import tolerance commodity – banana and green coffee beans
Acute toxicity
HD5 = 17.81 mg/kg bw (Mineau et al. 2001)
LD50 = 60.6-89.6 mg/kg in mallard duck (EPA RED 1995)
AIMS incidents - none

 

According to EPA’s RED (1995), the Interim Restricted Entry Interval for all uses of diquat was seven days under for occupational uses. Birds will continually utilize habitat such as coffee (one of the import tolerance commodities for diquat) during and after pesticide application. If EPA determines that humans should not be exposed to diquat immediately after application, then there is concern about avian exposure following application.

 

Dimethoate
Type of chemical – organophosphate insecticide
Formulation - aerosol spray, dust, emulsifiable concentrate, and ULV concentrate formulations
Import tolerance commodity - blueberry
Acute toxicity
HD5 = 5.783 mg/kg bw (Mineau et al. 2001)
LD50 = 5.4 mg/kg bw in red winged blackbirds (IRED 2006)
LD50 = 6.60-17.8 mg/kg bw in red winged blackbirds (Schafer et al. 1983)
AIMS incidents – 5 incidents, 184 birds

 

According to EPAs IRED (2006) on dimethoate, post-application risks to humans “will be reduced by extending REIs for some crops, in particular, orchard fruits and woody ornamentals. The occupational risk assessment for dimethoate indicates that REIs of 12 hours are adequate to reach MOEs of 100 for a number of scenarios. However, when the acute toxicity of omethoate is taken into consideration, the Agency believes a 48 hour REI is more appropriate. Therefore, no crop scenario has an REI shorter than 48 hours”. Birds will continue to utilize blueberry (the import tolerance commodity for this pesticide) crops for food during and after dimethoate application. Dimethoate is an organophosphate insecticide, and is particularly toxic to birds. Migratory birds, specifically songbirds, will forage through blueberry fields. If humans had an REI, which acknowledges risk of exposure, then there is even more risk to birds, which are more sensitive to OP pesticides than mammals.

Fenamiphos
Type of chemical – organophosphate insecticide
Formulation - granular
Import tolerance commodity – banana, fruit, citrus, garlic, grape, pineapple
Acute toxicity
HD5 = 0.43 mg/kg bw (Mineau et al. 2001)
LD50 = 1.6 mg/kg in bobwhite quail (EPA IRED 2002)
AIMS incidents – 5 incidents, 388 birds killed

 

EPA’s IRED (2002) states that “The environmental risk assessment suggests that exposure to fenamiphos could result in both acute and chronic risks of concern for terrestrial and aquatic organisms. The fenamiphos ecological assessment indicates that virtually all uses at all maximum labeled rates result in risks that exceed both the high acute and chronic risk levels of concern for terrestrial, aquatic, and endangered species. Even though fenamiphos is either soil incorporated or watered-in,
which may reduce potential exposures to wildlife, it is highly toxic causing small amounts to pose a
high risk to sensitive species. Incident data, as outlined in Section III(B)(5) support this conclusion, as fish and bird kill incident reports indicate losses of wildlife directly attributable to fenamiphos”. The use of fenamiphos overseas, in granular formation is of particular concern to ABC. Songbirds will forage for grit and consume granular pesticides. Fenamiphos is an organophosphate insecticide, which is particulary toxic to birds.

 

Mevinphos
Type of chemical – organophosphate insecticide
Formulation – concentrate and liquid
Import tolerance commodity - Broccoli; cabbage; cauliflower; celery; cucumber; grape; lettuce; melon; pea; pepper; spinach; squash, summer; strawberry; tomato; and watermelon
Acute toxicity
HD5 = 0.6954 mg/kg bw (Mineau et al. 2001)
AIMS incidents – 3 incidents, 124 birds killed

Information limited to a Tolerance Reassessment with no ecological risk data.

Methomyl
Type of chemical – carbamate insecticide
Formulation - Water soluble powders, wettable powder, water soluble liquid
Import tolerance commodity – hop, dried cones
Acute toxicity
LD50 = 24.2 mg/kg in northern bobwhite quail (EPA RED 1998)
LD50 = 15.9 mg/kg in mallard duck (EPA RED 1998)
LD50 = 15.4 mg/kg in ring-necked pheasant (EPA RED 1998)
HD5 = 8.46 mg/kg bw (Mineau et al. 2001)
LD50 = 10.0 mg/kg in red winged black bird (Schafer et al. 1983)
LD50 = 13.3-42.2 mg/kg in starlings (Schafer et al. 1983)
LD50 = 23.7 mg/kg in coturnix quail (Schafer et al. 1983)
AIMS incidents – 5 incidents, 41 birds killed

 

According to EPA’s RED (1998), the agency considered the exposure and risk assessment for post-application workers and the available post-application epidemiological information about methomyl. EPA states “MOEs for grape girdlers do not reach 100 until the third day after application, requiring at least a 3-day REI. Estimates of dermal exposure and risk for peach and commercial sod harvesters indicate that MOEs exceed 100 on the second day after application, requiring at least a 48 hour REI. For other crops and sites, estimates of dermal exposure and risk indicate that MOEs exceed 100 on the day of application after sprays have dried (i.e., 12 hours following application). However, since methomyl is in acute toxicity category 1 for primary eye irritation, a 48 hour REI is required.” Considering that there are REI’s established for methomyl to protect human health, it is clear that birds may be exposed during and after application. Methomyl is a carbamate, and is particularly toxic to birds.

 

Naled
Type of chemical - organophosphate
Formulation - dust, emulsion concentrate, liquid, and ULV formulations
Import tolerance commodity – Cucumber, lettuce, tomato, pumpkin; squash, winter; turnip, tops
Acute toxicity
HD5 = 3.95 mg/kg bw (Mineau et al. 2001)
LD50 = 52.2 mg/kg in mallard duck (EPA RED 2006)
LD50 = 36.9 mg/kg in Canada goose (EPA RED 2006)
LD50 = 64.9 mg/kg in sharp-tailed grouse (EPA RED 2006)
AIMS incidents – 1 incident, 66 birds killed

 

According to EPA’s RED on naled (2006), reentry intervals after field application to crops should be 48. Care from spraying on non-target animals should be avoided. Birds often follow behind pesticide applicators to forage for dying insect, and naled is an organophosphate insecticide, which is particularly toxic to birds. Migratory birds may be of particular risk to exposure to this pesticide.

 

Phorate
Type of chemical – organophosphate insecticide
Formulation - granular and emusifiable concentrate formulations
Import tolerance commodity – green coffee beans
Acute toxicity
HD5 = 0.34 mg/kg (Mineau et al. 2001)
LD50 = 1.0 mg/kg in red winged black birds (Schafer et al. 1983)
LD50 = 7.50 mg/kg in starlings (Schafer et al. 1983)
AIMS incidents – 32 incidents, 2930 birds killed

 

EPA states in its RED on Phorate that “This pesticide is very highly toxic to fish and wildlife” and “Birds and mammals may be killed if granules are not properly covered with soil in all areas of the treated field and in loading areas”. Also, phorate labels specify re-entry intervals of 48 to 72 hours. Given that phorate is used in granular form (which is especially appealing to birds), is used on coffee crops (which are a valuable habitat for birds), and there is documentation that phorate can kill birds, ABC believes the import tolerances should be revoked to protect migratory birds.

 

Terbufos
Type of chemical – organophosphate insecticide
Formulation - granular
Import tolerance commodity - green coffee beans
Acute toxicity
HD5 = 0.16 mg/kg (Mineau et al. 2001)
LD50 = 29 mg/kg bw in bobwhite quail
AIMS incidents – 11 incidents, 81 birds killed

 

EPA’s RED on terbufos (2006) states that “The REI for crops treated with terbufos is 48 hours and 72 hours in areas where average annual rainfall is less than 25 inches per years”. Birds will continuously use the coffee plantation habitat in which terbufos is used. If humans should not enter an area that this pesticide is applied within 48 hours, birds may also be at risk of exposure. Terbufos is an organophosphate insecticide, used in granular form, which is particularly toxic to songbirds foraging for grit. Migratory birds may be of particular risk to exposure to this pesticide.

 

Dichlorvos (DDVP)
Type of chemical – organophosphate insecticide
Formulation - granular
Import tolerance commodity - tomato
Acute toxicity
HD5 = 5.18 mg/kg bw (Mineau et al. 2001)
LD50 = 13.3-17.8 mg/kg in red winged black bird (Schafer et al. 1983)
LD50 = 11.0-42.2 mg/kg in starlings (Schafer et al. 1983)
LD50 = 23.7 mg/kg in coturnix quail (Schafer et al. 1983)
AIMS incidents – 1 incident, 8 birds killed

 

As stated in EPA’s RED (2006), dichlorvos is toxic to birds. Given that this pesticide is often used in granular form, import tolerances should be revoked. Migratory songbirds often forage for grit and pick up granules of pesticides, leading to lethal exposure.

 


 

 

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