Cooperative Extension Service
The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Your Source for Pest Management and Pesticide News

September 2001/Volume 24, No. 9

HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT

You may need to know the 'other' risks of West Nile virus
Iowa State University scientists report that catnip is an effective mosquito repellent
Here are two web sites that will lead to everything there is to know about West Nile virus
The cancellation of benomyl raises some unexpected health concerns
A new study suggests that carbaryl (Sevin) and other carbamate insecticides increase the risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

FOOD QUALITY PROTECTION ACT -- RE-REGISTRATION

The EPA is unveiling plans for a cumulative risks assessment of the organophosphate pesticides
The preliminary risk assessment of lindane is available for comment

FEDERAL NEWS

The EPA asks for comments regarding proposed new label language regarding pesticide drift
The EPA plans to create a list of pesticide ingredients that do not require a food tolerance or an exemption from tolerance

WORKER PROTECTION STANDARD

At a recent WPS meeting, we learned the real distinction between agricultural workers and pesticide handlers
Do you need to ask some questions about WPS or other regulations that affect agriculture?

DON'T DO IT

A Georgia pest control company was recently fined $100,000 for an improper termite treatment
Kansas seized one million bushels of wheat that may be contaminated with paraquat
Nearly 25,000 acres of wheat in Arkansas and Mississippi were illegally sprayed with zeta-cypermethrin

CANCELLED

Nearly one thousand pesticide registrations have been cancelled for nonpayment of registration fees
The Federal Register is the official record of governmental actions

Health and the Environment

You may need to know the 'other' risks of West Nile virus. It seems everyone is discussing West Nile virus, and the health risk has been exaggerated in some cases to make the story more newsworthy. West Nile virus can be a serious disease for the very old, very young, or people with an impaired immune system, but West Nile is not an important health risk for most people. However, few stories address the other risks associated with West Nile virus.

Beware of these hazards that may affect a wide range of people.

1) Products that promise miracles. Whenever a public health scare occurs, companies seem to come out of the woodwork with new products. Doesn't it seem awfully coincidental that a new product just happens to be discovered when a health scare occurs? Beware of products that promise to eliminate mosquito populations in a short time or that operate through some kind of sonic repellency. If it were possible to eliminate mosquitoes, you and I would have never seen one.

2) Companies that offer unnecessary services. You could write the ad yourself. "Don't put your family at risk from this deadly outbreak, call __________ Pest Control today." Some people may need professional help to control mosquitoes, but most people can implement an effective mosquito control program. See 'Keeping Pests Out of the Home with Fewer Pesticides & Using Pesticides Safely' at http://entomology.ent.uga.edu/ If you need help with a mosquito problem, interview several companies about their program and about the biology of mosquitoes. If the company does not seem knowledgeable, look for another company.

3) Excessive pesticide use. Many people follow two basic tenets of pest management: insecticides are the answer to all insect problems, and more is always better. Keep in mind that many pesticides also carry risks to human health and the environment. Think before you use any pesticide. Why is the insect a problem? Why is it attracted to your environment? If you cannot solve these root problems, pesticides may provide only temporary relief. Our web site, http://entomology.ent.uga.edu, can help you solve many common insect problems. ALWAYS FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ON THE PESTICIDE LABEL! Using more pesticide is not more effective and may cause unnecessary risks to your family or the environment.

4) Irresponsible use of repellents. For now, DEET is the most effective insect repellent sold. Many people do not realize that DEET is a pesticide, and it is absorbed through the skin. DEET products are valuable tools to protect your self from mosquitoes, but excessive use of DEET can also pose health risks. Young children are at the greatest risk. 'Protect Yourself Against Bites and Stings' (http://entomology.ent.uga.edu/) will help you use repellents safely.

Iowa State University scientists report that catnip is an effective mosquito repellent. According to Chris Peterson and Joel Coats, an essential oil (nepetalactone) found in catnip is even more active than DEET. It took about a tenth as much nepetalactone to have the same repellency as DEET in laboratory experiments. Both repellents caused mosquitoes to move away from treated areas in glass tubes.

No animal or human tests are scheduled for nepetalactone, although Peterson is hopeful that will take place in the future. Iowa State has submitted a patent application for the use of catnip compounds as insect repellents (http://www.ag.iastate.edu/aginfo/news/catnip.html)

Here are two web sites that will lead to everything there is to know about West Nile virus. If you do not already know more than you care to know about West Nile virus, visit http://entomology.ent.uga.edu and http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/wnvirus/wnfacts.htm I promise you will know more than anyone in your neighborhood, even that irritating know-it-all down the street.

The cancellation of benomyl raises some unexpected health concerns. A few months ago, DuPont announced the cancellation of its popular fungicide, benomyl. Their decision was driven by their business plan, not by any health risk.

Thiophanate-methyl (TPM) is expected to take a substantial part of the benomyl market. TPM is already registered for a wide variety of food and residential applications. TPM breaks down into carbendazim; TPM and carbendazim have a similar toxic endpoint. Additionally, carbendazim is registered for use as a paint preservative. Suddenly, EPA was faced with an unforeseen scenario in which potential exposures were much greater than anticipated.

TPM is classified as a 'likely carcinogen', and carbendazim is a 'possible carcinogen'. Both chemicals can affect developing fetuses. These classifications do not mean that current or predicted exposures will result in human illness, but the EPA is taking a close look at the new scenario.

The Agency is seeking comments on their revised assessment of risks. If you use benomyl or TPM, you should take the time to comment. You can read the assessment and comment at http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/reregistration/tm/ (Pesticide & Tox. Chemical News, 8-13-01)

A new study suggests that carbaryl (Sevin) and other carbamate insecticides increase the risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), a cancer of the lymphatic system. In the July issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, researchers indicate report that farmers who used carbamate pesticides had a 30-50% increased risk of NHL compared with nonfarmers. Farmers who had not used carbamates showed no increased risk. The risk of NHL associated with carbaryl was limited to the people who handled the product for 7 or more years. (Agromedicine Program Update, 8-15-01)

Many think that products like Sevin or RoundUp are completely safe. After all, the signal word is 'CAUTION', and everyone uses them. You can buy them right in my local store. They can't be dangerous, can they?

Pesticides carry more than one type of risk. The signal word (DANGER, WARNING, CAUTION) provides information about the acute risks. Acute reactions occur shortly after one exposure to a pesticide. DANGER pesticides can cause severe injury or death with a single exposure. CAUTION pesticides have low acute risks.

The signal word provides no information about chronic risks. Chronic illnesses only appear after a long period of repeated exposure. After all, it is not the first cigarette that can cause health problems. We do not know the chronic risks for many pesticides. The association between carbamates and NHL may or may not be supported by further investigation, but our message remains the same. Minimize your exposure to all pesticides. ALWAYS wear the protective clothing as directed by the pesticide label.



Food Quality Protection Act -- Re-Registration

The EPA is unveiling plans for a cumulative risks assessment of the organophosphate pesticides (OP). Under FQPA, EPA must produce a cumulative assessment of the risks of all pesticides with a similar toxic mode of action. In other words, the Agency must figure out a method to determine the total risks of a group of chemicals that poison you in the same way. Although the acute toxicity of the OP insecticides varies, they all act upon the same nerve enzyme. It is reasonable to think that exposure to multiple OP would create greater risk. The tricky part is to put a number on the cumulative risk.

Under the EPA plan, one OP would be identified as the index chemical for the group, and other chemicals would be assigned risk values relative to the index. In a simple example, the index OP might be given a value of '1.' Another OP with twice the risk of the index would be assigned a '2'. Methamidophos was chosen as the index for the OP because there are a lot of data about this chemical and because methamidophos acts directly on the nerve enzyme. Some OP must first be changed chemically to affect the nerve enzyme. (Pesticide & Tox. Chemical News, 8-27-01)

As you might expect, there is considerable uncertainty and debate about the cumulative assessment. For example, there are few data concerning exposure in drinking water or on residential sites. Incorrect assumptions could lead to serious overestimation or underestimation of true exposure. FQPA states that pesticides and 'other substances' should be included in the cumulative risk assessment. The mode of action of some drugs is similar to the OP. Certainly, children could be exposed to these medicines or the bottles or the dusts. How should these other substances be included in the cumulative assessment?

You can find more information at http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/cumulative/ I strongly suggest that you pay attention to this part of the process. The decisions will affect the OP and probably set the rules for any cumulative assessments (e.g., carbamates) to come.

The preliminary risk assessment of lindane is available for comment. Lindane is used as a seed treatment, and it is one of the few available options for controlling bark beetles. You can read the assessment and comment by visiting the EPA web site, www.epa.gov/pesticides The comment period closes 10-29-01.

Federal News

The EPA asks for comments regarding proposed new label language regarding pesticide drift. The Agency is concerned that current label statements do not address pesticide drift in a practical way. For example, "Do not allow product to drift" is overly simple, and it conflicts with the EPA policy that some small amount of drift is inevitable with almost any pesticide application. The Agency also believes that a very low level of drift does not pose a health/environmental threat of concern. Furthermore, the statement "Do Not Allow Drift to Cause Adverse Effects" is difficult to enforce, and it may imply that drift is acceptable as long as adverse effects are not proven. To address the situation, the EPA proposes other label language that will better define drift and improvement enforcement.

If you use pesticides, the new label language could affect how you use pesticides and your potential liability. Read the PR Notice and take the time to comment. You can find the information at www.epa.gov/pesticides; look under 'Open comment periods.' Comments are due November 20, 2001. For more information, you can also contact Jay Ellenberger at ellenberger.jay@epa.gov or (703) 305-7099.

The EPA plans to create a list of pesticide ingredients that do not require a food tolerance or an exemption from tolerance. The chemicals on the list will be things that will not produce any residue in food. Some pesticides, such as pheromones used in traps, already have this type of exemption, but there has never been a comprehensive list published in the Code of Federal Regulations. The proposed list would ensure consistent treatment of the chemicals. You can find more information and comment at the EPA web site, www.epa.gov/pesticides

Worker Protection Standard

At a recent WPS meeting, we learned the real distinction between agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. We have probably misled some people because we were confused as well. Here is a better explanation.

A pesticide handler is anyone who is employed (including self-employed) for any type of compensation by an agricultural establishment or a commercial pesticide-handling establishment that uses pesticides in the production of agricultural plants on a farm, forest, nursery, or greenhouse AND is doing any of these activities.

A person is not a handler if he or she only handles pesticide containers that have been properly emptied or cleaned. A person is not a handler if he or she is only handling pesticide containers that are unopened. However, a person who is not a handler may not load unopened, water-soluble pesticide packets into a mixing tank.

You can find a WPS check list at our web site. http://www.ces.uga.edu/Agriculture/Pesticideapplicator/pest-home.html

You can find out everything about WPS at the EPA website. www.epa.gov/pesticides/safety

Do you need to ask some questions about WPS or other regulations that affect agriculture? Call the National Agriculture Compliance Center at 1-888-663-2155 or visit them on the web at www.epa.gov/oeca/ag

Don't Do It

A Georgia pest control company was recently fined $100,000 for an improper termite treatment. The company used insufficient chemicals, used the wrong dilution, did not perform proper backfill; and they had other violations. In addition to the fine, every home in the subdivision will have to be retreated at no cost to the homeowner, and the owner and applicator have to attend 15 hours of training. Most of the fine will be suspended if the company treats all of the affected homes appropriately. (Farmers & Consumers Market Bulletin, 8-19-01)

Kansas seized one million bushels of wheat that may be contaminated with paraquat. Apparently, some bonehead sprayed some wheat before harvesting. The contamination began with about 2,000 bushels, but officials were trying to determine how much of the one million bushels would be unsafe for consumption. With the value of this wheat placed at approximately $2.5 million, regulatory officials will be looking aggressively for the people responsible. FOLLOW THE PESTICIDE LABEL.

Nearly 25,000 acres of wheat in Arkansas and Mississippi were illegally sprayed with zeta-cypermethrin. Growers applied the pyrethroid insecticide to combat an infestation of armyworms. However, this insecticide is not labeled for wheat. The wheat cannot be sold, and the applicators face fines.

Officials are still trying to determine why so many growers used the product illegally. Some growers reported that consultants or sales representatives recommended the application. Regardless of the source of the recommendation, the applicators are still held responsible. The user is responsible for following the pesticide label. FOLLOW THE PESTICIDE LABEL. (Pesticide & Tox. Chemical News, 8-6-01)

This type of incident with pyrethroids and small grains is not unusual. When I worked for EPA, we were investigating alternatives to parathion. In one state, the most commonly used alternative was an illegal application of a pyrethroid.

One of the nation's greatest strengths is our abundant food supply. It is also critical for consumers to have confidence that the food is not contaminated with illegal pesticide residues. I realize that these farmers were just trying to save their crops to earn money, but they apparently do not understand the long-term consequences. Additionally, misapplication is the quickest way to invite even more regulation of pesticides.

Cancelled

Nearly one thousand pesticide registrations have been cancelled for nonpayment of registration fees. As part of FQPA/reregistration, EPA increased the fee to maintain pesticide registrations. As a result, many companies are dropping registrations. In most cases, the cancelled registrations are for products that are no longer marketed. Other cancelled registrations include products that are being discontinued. If you want to see the entire list, look in the July 25, 2001 issue of the Federal Register. You can find it at http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-PEST/2001/July/Day-25/p18537.htm

The Federal Register is the official record of governmental actions. If you want to go to the horse's mouth, you can find environmental documents, including pesticide activities at http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/

The appearance of any trade name in this newsletter is not intended to endorse that product nor convey negative implications of unmentioned products.

Dear Readers:

The Georgia Pest Management Newsletter is a monthly journal for extension agents, extension specialists, and others interested in pest management news. It provides information on legislation, regulations, and other issues affecting pest management in Georgia.

Do not regard the information in this newsletter as pest management recommendations. Consult the Georgia Pest Control Handbook, other extension publications, or appropriate specialists for this information.

Your input in this newsletter is encouraged.

If you wish to be added to the mailing list, just call us at 706-542-1765

Or write us:

Department of Entomology
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602

E-mail: pguillebeau@bugs.ent.uga.edu

Or visit us on the Web. You will find all the back issues there and other useful information. http://www.ces.uga.edu/Agriculture/entomology/pestnewsletter/newsarchive.html

Sincerely:



Paul Guillebeau, Associate Professor & Extension Entomologist