Fluoride Action Network

Sulfuryl fluoride: Legislative Update – Raising Capitol Hill Awareness

Source: PCT (Pest Control Technology) | February 27th, 2012 | By Brad Harbison
Industry type: Pesticides

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) represents the pest control industry’s interests on Capitol Hill through intense lobbying efforts. But the nature of politics is such that the work of a few individuals can only do so much. No one voice carries more weight with PCOs’ elected officials than their own voice. It was for this reason that NPMA created Legislative Day 25 years ago. The idea was to hold a once-a-year educational conference in which attendees would meet with their representatives to increase the awareness of key legislative and regulatory issues impacting the pest management industry.

Throughout the years Legislative Day issues have changed, but the need to raise Capitol Hill awareness of issues impacting the pest control industry is as strong as ever. Attendees of the 2012 Legislative Day are heading to Capitol Hill to make their collective voices heard on the following issues.

Clean Water Act. Legislative Day attendees will be asking their representatives to support H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, legislation introduced in response to a January 2009 Federal Appeals Court ruling that requires costly and burdensome Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES) permits for millions of pesticide applications. This ruling would impact many pest management professionals, especially those performing mosquito and aquatic weed treatments…

Endangered Species Act. In January 2011, the Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the federal district court for the northern district of California, alleging that EPA had failed to take steps required by the Endangered Species Act to protect more than 200 endangered species that are located in every state and territory in the United States, except Alaska, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands… “These lawsuits pose a tremendous threat to the future availability of pesticides,” said Harrington…

Sulfuryl Fluoride Uses. In 2004, EPA registered sulfuryl fluoride for control of insect pests in harvested and processed foods such as cereal grains, dried fruits, tree nuts, cocoa beans, coffee beans, and also in food handling and processing facilities. The fumigant is considered an alternative to methyl bromide, which is being phased out. However, the product has come under attack from the activist group FAN (Fluoride Action Network), which has a waged a lengthy campaign to remove sulfuryl fluoride usage in food-processing facilities. FAN claims the use of sulfuryl fluoride will introduce unacceptable levels of fluoride to consumers and can cause medical risks, mainly dental fluorosis, a condition where overexposure to fluoride can damage the enamel on teeth.

Ives and others believe that the amount of fluoride people could be exposed to from sulfuryl fluoride is minimal, especially in comparison to other sources of fluoride such as water, food and toothpastes. “We really don’t believe that any of the dangers or issues related to fluoride are related to this product. It’s kind of a return to the Risk Cup concept,” Ives said. “In other words, eliminating it from [this use] will have virtually no impact on the exposure of the U.S. population to fluoride and conditions that overexposure may cause, such as flourosis.”

Nevertheless, in January 2011 EPA announced it is taking steps to begin a phased-down withdrawal of sulfuryl fluoride, and the agency accepted comments about this action from January 2011 until July 2011. NPMA and other groups submitted their comments to EPA; NPMA also has met with the agency about this issue several times. “At this time, EPA doesn’t appear to concede there is an administrative fix,” Harrington said. “They believe their hands are tied because of possible litigation and that they have to cancel the [food tolerance use]. We disagree with that assessment, so it is going to be increasingly important for PMPs to let their members of Congress know how valuable this product is.”