March 5, 2010
After 11 years of secrecy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided to reverse a prior decision that allowed pesticide manufacturers to conceal the inert ingredients from their product labels. Since many of these ingredients are toxic, the agency now believes that consumers should know what ingredients are hiding in pesticide products.
As opposed to active ingredients, inert ingredients in pesticides do not kill or control pests. A typical pesticide product is composed of over 99 percent inerts while the remaining 1 percent or less are the actual active ingredients.
Prior to the EPA’s announcement, manufacturers were not required to disclose any of the inert ingredients contained in their products, even though federal law classifies many of them as hazardous. Some of these include formaldehyde, bisphenol A (BPA), toluene, sulfuric acid, styrene, and benzene, all of which are known carcinogens that are implicated in causing everything from breathing problems to sexual dysfunction.
Petitions filed by ten state attorneys general and an environmental group in 2001 to require inert ingredient labeling were denied by the EPA. A federal appeal in 2004 was also struck down, upholding the precedent that labeling was neither important nor necessary.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
However this year the agency has had a change of heart, deciding to initiate new regulations that it says will increase transparency and encourage manufacturers to remove toxic ingredients from their products and replace them with safer, more environmentally friendly components.
Many pesticide companies are resistant to the idea because they say it will force them to reveal confidential information about their formulas and make public their trade secrets. They also allege that the EPA is practicing double speak by approving the formulas as safe for public use while at the same time expressing concern over the toxicity of inert ingredients. All inert ingredients in pesticides have always been made available to the EPA in order to be approved, a process that the industry believes releases them from responsibility.
While not all inert ingredients are toxic, many being simple plant and oil extracts and other harmless fillers, many experts and industry watchdogs believe it is necessity to reveal all ingredients, especially toxic ones, in order to maintain public health.
The EPA plans to work with the pesticide industry, consumers, and other stake holders to craft appropriate legislation. Federal law, whether constitutional or not, allows only the EPA to decide what must be included on pesticide labels, which has caused a firestorm of petitions from 15 state attorneys general providing suggestions for the new legislation.
Sources for this story include: http://www.environmentalhealthnews….
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