Sulfuryl fluoride is another newly developed fumigant designed as a substitute for ozone-depleting fumigants like methyl bromide. Registered for certain food uses, it required a tolerance issued under the FFDCA as amended by FQPA. One of the requirements, the aggregate risk factor, forbids the tolerance to be issued if the ‘risk cup’ is already full from other sources. In the case of sulfuryl flouride, the question has been whether the risk cup for the pesticide use is already overly full due to exposure to naturally occurring fluoride in drinking water, which at high enough levels may cause an adverse health effect.
The key current development is that notwithstanding EPA’s approval in 2005, those who believe fluoride to be a very toxic material have challenged EPA’s granting of the tolerance under the FFDCA. They have persisted for years in their challenge to EPA, and have gone through litigation [sic – should be: have gone through mediation sponsored by EPA on the issue and have threatened litigation] to force EPA to have a hearing on their objection to the granting of the tolerance. No such hearings have been held in modern history under the relevant parts of the statute, and it is even unclear what the appropriate procedures will or should be.
Why this is important to the larger pesticide user community is that a number of important policies and procedures that underpin EPA’s tolerance-setting process could be affected, for example, how EPA articulates its position on how to incorporate drinking water exposures from naturally occurring substances. No schedule is set for any further proceedings at this time, but those seeking to challenge the tolerance are clear in their intent to press the case forward…
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