Wednesday, August 31, 2011

EPA - California Environmental Justice Agreement Concerning Methyl Bromide Use

U.S. EPA has entering into an agreement with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) to resolve a civil rights complaint filed in 1999 under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI). Title VI prohibits intentional discrimination and discriminatory effects on the basis of race, color, and national origin by recipients of federal financial assistance. The complaint alleged that CDPR’s annual renewal of the registration of methyl bromide in 1999 discriminated against Latino school children based on the health impacts of this pesticide. The Office of Civil Rights’ analysis of pesticide use in California from 1995 to 2001, raised concerns that there was an unintentional adverse and disparate impact on Latino children resulting from the use of methyl bromide during that period. This concern was based on the high percentage of Latino children in schools near fields where methyl bromide was applied for the period from 1995-2001. EPA communicated its concerns to CDPR on April 22, 2011.

CDPR has agreed through this Agreement to expand on-going monitoring of methyl bromide air concentrations by adding a monitor at or near one of the Watsonville, CA area schools named in the original complaint. The purpose of the additional monitor is to confirm that there will be no recurrence of earlier conditions. CDPR will share the monitoring results with EPA and the public and will also increase its community outreach and education efforts to schools that are in high methyl bromide usage areas.

California is one of the few states with a program to evaluate and register pesticides for state use beyond national requirements. Since 2001, EPA and the State of California have implemented regulations that address methyl bromide exposure levels. In its 2009 Re-registration, EPA required additional mitigation measures for use of methyl bromide nationwide, including in California. In issuing the Amended Re-registration Eligibility Decision (RED) for methyl bromide in 2009, EPA determined under Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) that there is a reasonable certainty of no harm from dietary and all other non-occupational exposures from methyl bromide in the general public when it is used in accordance with its labeling directions. To confirm the effectiveness of these mitigation measures and that exposure levels in communities remain below the Agency’s level of concern, EPA has required the manufacturers of methyl bromide to conduct ambient air monitoring studies in major use areas including California and Florida.

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