Pesticides:

EPA's Repeat Emergency Exemptions May Provide Potential for Abuse

T-RCED-91-83: Published: Jul 23, 1991. Publicly Released: Jul 23, 1991.

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GAO discussed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) administration of the emergency-use exemption provision of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, which allows states and federal agencies to use unregistered pesticides in an emergency without having to go through the EPA registration process. GAO noted that: (1) since 1978, EPA has granted over 4,000 specific and crisis unregistered pesticide exemptions; (2) in fiscal year 1990, EPA granted almost 80 percent of the exemption requests for chemicals that had already received exemptions for that particular use, and approved another 18 percent of the repeat requests by not revoking crisis exemptions; (3) by granting repeat exemptions, EPA may put companies that register pesticides at an economic disadvantage compared with companies that are able to sell their chemicals for unregistered usage; (4) since unregistered pesticides do not go through the EPA registration process, the extent of their effects on human health and the environment are unknown; and (5) the high number of repeat exemptions was due to a lack of criteria defining a complete registration application and nonspecific regulations precluding EPA from defining routine situations as emergencies.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: EPA has issued guidance specifying criteria to determine a chemical's progress toward registration.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that section 18 exemptions do not become routine, particularly as some pesticides are discontinued, EPA should: (1) develop criteria to measure a chemical's progress towards registration; and (2) ensure that these criteria are distributed to the states and registrants of emergency-use pesticides.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: EPA has issued guidance specifying criteria to differentiate a chronic from an emergency situation. EPA does not plan to revise its regulations.

    Recommendation: EPA should: (1) establish criteria that differentiate a chronic from an emergency situation; and (2) revise its regulations accordingly.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

 

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