Agriculture, forestry and fishing Workplace exposures

EPA announces 12-month delay of pesticide-handler rule


Photo: fatihhoca/iStockphoto

Washington – The Environmental Protection Agency has delayed until May 22, 2018, the effective date for its revised Certification and Training of Pesticide Applicators final rule.

EPA stated that it is enacting the delay after receiving requests for more time from states and stakeholders.

Published in January, the revised rule initially was slated to go into effect March 6 but has been delayed multiple times.

“In order to achieve both environmental protection and economic prosperity, we must give the regulated community, which includes farmers and ranchers, adequate time to come into compliance with regulations,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a May 11 press release. “Extending the timeline for implementation of this rule will enable EPA to consult with states, assist with education, training and guidance, and prevent unnecessary burdens from overshadowing the rule’s intended benefits.”

Changes in the revised rule include:

  • Enhancing applicator competency standards to ensure the safe use of restricted use pesticides
  • Establishing a nationwide minimum age of 18 for certified pesticide applicators and those working under their supervision
  • Introducing a maximum recertification interval of five years for commercial and private pesticide applicators

Barbara Glenn, CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, spoke favorably of the extension.

“While we are supportive of the improved final rule released in January, states are facing a range of on-going logistical, resource, and capacity challenges,” Glenn said in the release. “These challenges are amplified as they also implement other recent EPA requirements, such as the Worker Protection Standard. Extending the certification timeline will help alleviate some of those challenges by allowing states to work with our EPA partners to ensure adequate training resources and compliance assistance activities.”

United Farm Workers, however, expressed “outrage” at the delay.

“Workers who handle neurotoxic pesticides should have the strongest protections available,” Erik Nicholson, United Farm Workers vice president, said in a May 12 press release. “With this 12-month delay, the EPA is putting farm workers and their children at risk. The EPA itself had pointed to multiple tragic incidents where children died or were seriously injured. This delay is an abuse of the process and puts the people the EPA is supposed to protect in danger.”

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