Spray Drift: Coming To A Head

Over the past 15 years, EPA has devoted considerable time and effort attempting to address spray drift issues, and Pesticide Registration (PR) Notice 2009-X, released last November, represents EPA’s most recent effort to reduce spray drift through labeling statements.

How Did We Get Here?

In 1984, EPA published a new rule outlining the spray drift data it required for submission with each ag chemical registration. The requirements compelled pesticide registrants to submit two types of spray drift data: “When aerial application … and mist blower or other methods of ground application are proposed, and it is estimated that the detrimental effects level of those nontarget organisms expected to be present would be exceeded.” EPA regulations further required manufacturers to submit proposed spray drift label instructions. EPA was to evaluate the proposed instructions in light of the manufacturer’s spray drift data to determine whether the crop protection product, when used as labeled, would cause “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.”

The cost of providing EPA with the required information on spray drift for each individual pesticide product was immense. Therefore, in 1990, the Spray Drift Task Force (SDTF) was organized to “share the cost of developing a generic spray drift database.” The purpose of the database was to satisfy spray drift data requirements for virtually all pesticide product registrations in the U.S. and Canada, while reducing the time and expense required by registrants to gather spray drift data for every product registered. SDTF was created through a joint effort between EPA, CropLife America, Agriculture Canada, and Environment Canada, and was intended to lighten the financial burden on pesticide registrants while “providing the agency with a more complete and scientifically more sound basis for evaluating off-target movement of pesticides and assessing exposure of humans and the environment.” The database created by SDTF included information from previous submissions to EPA, published research, and other sources within the industry, government, and academia.

In 2001, EPA specifically addressed spray drift labeling. In Draft Pesticide Registration Notice 2001-X: Spray and Dust Drift Label Statements for Pesticide Products (PR Notice 2001-X), EPA stated that because “individual products must be evaluated according to formulation and use, and because individual circumstances may apply [it] must review and approve the labeling of each product.” EPA also noted that it required “various product label statements for preventing or controlling spray drift” and that in some instances EPA required more detailed language on individual product labels, including label statements related to the use of no-spray zones, maximum application heights, and worker protection.

The stated purpose of PR Notice 2001-X was to provide “more consistent product label statements for controlling pesticide drift” to protect human health and the environment. In order to provide applicators with “consistent and appropriate directions for controlling drift,” EPA suggested that product labeling regarding drift be standardized. The agency wanted to establish clear labeling that “set definitive standards for application practices,” and pesticide manufacturers were required to avoid labeling that was “inconsistent,” “inadequate,” or “unclear.”

Although PR Notice 2001-X was intended to clarify expectations of applicators and set definitive standards for application practices, the proposed language was problematic, which stated, “do not allow drift.” This raised many concerns throughout the industry and with state pesticide departments charged with the enforcement of the proposed label language. One of the biggest concerns with the language “do not allow drift” was that it created a zero drift policy. Such a policy was viewed by some state regulators as a physical impossibility and therefore unenforceable. The concerns over this language eventually led to PR Notice 2001-X failing to be finalized.

What’s On The Table?

EPA’s long-awaited PR Notice 2009-X represents the agency’s latest effort to address drift labeling language. The stated purpose of PR Notice 2009-X is to provide guidance to pesticide registrants when revising pesticide labeling instructions “to minimize drift and to protect people, other non-target organisms, and the environment from adverse effects that may be caused by off-target pesticide drift.” The new drift statements recommended by EPA “are intended to improve labeling of current and future pesticide registrations by proposing a clear, concise, generic drift labeling statement for all pesticide products and by providing specific use directions that EPA may require for pesticide applicators.” According to EPA, the new language should result in “fairer, more uniform enforcement that better protects human health, other non-target organisms, and the environment.”

Under PR Notice 2009-X, the general drift labeling language for three pesticide product categories would change. The categories subject to the proposed labeling language are: (1) pesticide products that currently bear the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) drift statement; (2) pesticide products which may be used commercially that currently do not bear the WPS drift statement; and (3) pesticide products intended solely for non-commercial application.

Products that currently use the standard WPS language regarding spray drift and commercially used products that do not currently use the WPS language would be required to use the following label language regarding ag chemical spray drift:

Do not apply this product in a manner that will contact workers or other persons, either directly or through drift. In addition, do not apply this product in a manner that results in spray (or dust) drift that could cause an adverse effect to people or any other non-target organism or site.

Products used solely for non-commercial activity would be required to include the following spray drift language on their labels:

Do not apply this product in a way that could contact people, or that results in spray (or dust) drift that could cause harm to people, pets, property, aquatic life, wildlife, or wildlife habitat.

If EPA finalizes PR Notice 2009-X, the labels for the crop protection products in each category must change to reflect the new spray drift language.

EPA will still determine whether a product requires a product-specific drift statement. These will be made on a case-by-case basis. These product-specific statements will include, restrictions on wind speed, application release height, buffer zones around sensitive areas, and droplet size, to name a few. In most cases, EPA will evaluate the need for a product-specific drift statement during the registration process. If EPA determines that product-specific labeling is required, the registrant will be required to add product-specific drift statements to the label, as appropriate, to address potential risks.

What Are The Key Issues?

Public comment on PR Notice 2009-X closed on March 5. Once the period for comment closed, EPA could issue a final notice. If finalized as written, any product not yet registered with EPA must submit, along with its registration materials, product labeling that complies with the spray drift language described above. Registrants of existing products that do not have any spray drift language in their labels will have at least six months to submit new general drift labeling statements to EPA. If a registered product contains existing drift labeling statements, the registrants will be required to submit the proposed changes by filing an application to amend their registrations within 12 months of the final Notice being issued.

Although the time for public comment had yet to close at presstime, there have already been numerous public comments regarding the potential effects of PR Notice 2009-X. Initially, in response to many requests seeking a longer comment period due to the complexity of the draft and accompanying materials, EPA extended the original 60-day comment period to March 5. The main concerns expressed by those providing comments to date are two-fold: First, the suggested drift statement contains vague language not in accordance with FIFRA’s risk-based standard of “no unreasonable adverse events.” Second, there is a concern that EPA’s guidance on how to enforce the proposed drift label language sets an unachievable zero drift standard.

The Answer? Stay Tuned …

EPA is attempting to further its goal of promulgating clear and concise labeling statements to help reduce issues surrounding spray drift. While the crop protection industry has expressed support for the agency’s overall goal of reducing off-target spray and dust drift and ensuring pesticide label consistency and clarity, there has long been debate about the best way to reach those goals. Pesticide manufactures, applicators, growers, and other stakeholders will therefore continue to analyze PR Notice 2009-X, and the crop protection products industry and agriculture community will monitor closely how EPA reacts to these comments.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Nozzles Stories

Nozzles18 Spray Nozzles That Reduce Drift, Optimize Coverage
May 7, 2014
This year’s line-up of tips feature the versatility to handle any spray job. View photos and product descriptions of the latest nozzles on the market in our slideshow. Read More
NozzlesChanging Crop Protection Landscape Demands Drift Advances
May 1, 2014
New weed control systems and growing public pressure mean technologies to minimize drift can’t come fast enough. Read More
NozzlesGreenleaf Launches Free NozzleCalc App
January 16, 2014
Quickly calculate sprayer settings for TurboDrop and AirMix nozzles anywhere with the new Greenleaf Technologies Nozzle Calculator app. Read More
NozzlesTeeJet Technologies Launches New Droplet Size Monitor, Guidance System
July 24, 2013
TeeJet has unveiled two new products: the Sentry 6120 Droplet Size Monitor, which helps operators improve spray applications, and the Matrix Pro GS guidance system with enhanced swath control. Read More

Trending Articles

Matt Hopkins15 Best New Agriculture Apps Worth Downloading In 2014
December 16, 2013
These latest agriculture apps are sure to help ag professionals do their jobs more efficiently in 2014 and beyond. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
Many new products were introduced to the ag retail marketplace this year. From this group, CropLife IRON and its consulting partners have selected five finalists for the Product of the Year award. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More

Latest News

Seed/BiotechSyngenta Ranked A Top 10 Biotech Employer For Third tim…
October 20, 2014
Syngenta ranked in the top 10 among the world’s top biotech employers, according to an annual survey conducted by Science magazine. Read More
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Break Ground For New Facility At Kennebec
October 20, 2014
Wheat Growers has broke ground for a state-of-the-art shuttle loader grain handling, fertilizer and agronomy facility in Kennebec, SD. Read More
FertilizerVerdesian Life Sciences Signs Agreement With Los Alamos…
October 20, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences has signed a licensing agreement with Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop and market LANL’s latest nitrogen enhancement technology for plants. Read More
MicronutrientsStoller Group Announces Groundbreaking At New Office Bu…
October 20, 2014
Jerry Stoller, founder and president of Stoller Group, announced the groundbreaking at the site of the company’s future headquarters in Read More
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Opens New Production Facility In Nevada
October 20, 2014
BioSafe Systems has completed construction of a state-of-art production facility in Sparks, NV, for its line of activated peroxygen products. Read More
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScien…
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechEPA Approves Dow’s Enlist Duo Herbicide
October 15, 2014
The Enlist Weed Control System, breakthrough technology to fight resistant and tough weeds, has received the long-awaited green light from federal regulatory authorities. Read More
MicronutrientsGypsum On Farms Could Help Keep Water Clean, Not Green
October 14, 2014
Gypsum, which has roots in the past as a farm soil treatment, also may have a bright future, and not just as a booster of crops but also as a protector of water. Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Crop InputsVerdesian Grows Sales Staff
October 14, 2014
The new account managers will drive sales growth and support relationships with key customers in the plant nutrition and seed treatment and inoculants product categories. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
October 14, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Purchases Six Grain Elevators, Four Agron…
October 14, 2014
The Andersons has acquired Auburn Bean and Grain of Auburn, MI, which will increase the storage capacity of its Grain Group by about 13%. Read More
StewardshipThree Ohio Ag Retailers Honored With 4R Certification
October 13, 2014
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced its first three agriculture nutrient service providers to achieve certified status. Read More
Eric SfiligojEntering Agriculture’s New Phase
October 13, 2014
The market’s giddy ride the past few years might be coming to an end in 2015, warns one industry insider. Read More
Eric SfiligojWar And Green Peace
October 11, 2014
A one-time member of Green Peace recently explained why he left the organization after 15 years. Read More
StewardshipCover Crops Add To Farm Sustainability
October 10, 2014
Farmers nationwide find cover crops to be a tool that helps groundwater, prevents erosion, builds soil quality and complements existing best management practices. Read More
EquipmentMeeting Changing Liquid Storage Needs
October 10, 2014
Tank and containment choices are expanding with shifts in farming practices and the economy. Read More
StewardshipEDF Launches Initiative To Reduce Fertilizer Pollution …
October 9, 2014
The effort will engage farmers and businesses throughout the supply chain to transform the way fertilizer-dependent grain crops are grown and sourced. Read More
ManagementMACA 2014: The State Of The Agricultural Industry, And …
October 9, 2014
The trade association’s annual gathering featured speakers from across agriculture and beyond. Read More