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Chlorothalonil - Receipt of Petition for an Exception 6/95

[Federal Register: June 12, 1995 (Volume 60, Number 112)]
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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
[OPP-250106; FRL-4958-7]
Chlorothalonil; Request for an Exception to Worker Protection Standard Early
     Entry Prohibition for Hand Harvest of Cantaloupe and Squash
AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
ACTION: Announcement of receipt of petition for an exception; request for
    comment.
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SUMMARY: EPA's Worker Protection Standard (WPS) allows the Agency to
grant exceptions to the entry restrictions contained in 40 CFR
170.112(e). The State of Delaware has petitioned the Agency to allow
workers to enter chlorothalonil-treated cantaloupe and squash fields to
perform hand labor harvesting before expiration of the 48-hour
restricted entry interval (REI). The time period for this exception
request is during the harvest season from July 1 through September 15,
1995. This Notice acknowledges receipt of the exception request and
invites comments from the public on the request.

DATES: Comments, data, or evidence should be submitted on or before
July 12, 1995.

ADDRESSES: The Agency invites any interested person to submit written
comments identified by docket number "OPP-250106" to: By mail: Public
Response and Program Resources Branch, Field Operations Division
(7506C), Environmental Protection Agency, 401 M St., SW., Washington,
DC 20460. In person, bring comments to: Rm. 1132,
Crystal Mall 2, 1921 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA.
    Comments and data may also be submitted electronically by sending
electronic mail (e-mail) to: opp-docket@epamail.epa.gov. Electronic
comments must be submitted as an ASCII file avoiding the use of special
characters and any form of encryption. Comments and data will also be
accepted on disks in WordPerfect 5.1 file format or ASCII file format.
All comments and data in electronic form must be identified by the
docket number "OPP-250106." No Confidential Business Information
(CBI) should be submitted through e-mail. Electronic comments on this
document may be filed online at many Federal Depository Libraries.
    Information submitted as a comment concerning this document may be
claimed confidential by marking any part or all of that information as
CBI. Information so marked will not be disclosed except in accordance
with procedures set forth in 40 CFR part 2. A copy of the comment that
does not contain CBI must be submitted for inclusion in the public
record. Information not marked confidential may be disclosed publicly
by EPA without prior notice. All written comments will be available for
public inspection in Rm. 1132 at the Virginia address given above from
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sara Ager or Ameesha Mehta, Office of
Pesticide Programs (7506C), Environmental Protection Agency, 401 M St.,
SW., Washington, DC 20460. Office location, telephone number, and e-
mail address: Rm. 1121, 1921 Jefferson Davis Highway, Crystal Mall #2,
Arlington, VA, (703) 305-7371, ager.sara@epamail.epa gov. or
mehta.ameesha@epamail.epa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

A. Early Entry Exceptions

    In general, Sec. 170.112 of the Worker Protection Standard (WPS)
prohibits agricultural workers from entering a pesticide-treated area
during a restricted entry interval (REI). REIs are based on the
toxicity of the active ingredient in the product. REIs are specified on
the pesticide product label and typically range from 12 to 72 hours.
Product-specific longer REIs have been set for a few pesticides.
    The WPS currently contains the following exceptions to the general
prohibition against worker entry during the REI:
    (1) Entry resulting in no contact with treated surfaces.
    (2) Entry allowing short-term tasks (less than 1 hour) to be
performed with personal protective equipment (PPE) and other
conditions.
    (3) Entry to perform tasks associated with agricultural
emergencies.
    Under these exceptions, workers engaging in early entry work are
not permitted to engage in hand labor, which results in substantial
contact with treated surfaces. The WPS defines hand labor as any
agricultural activity performed by hand or with hand tools that causes
a worker to have substantial contact with treated surfaces (such as
plants or soil) that may contain pesticide residues.
    Under Sec. 170.112(e) of the WPS, EPA may establish additional
exceptions to the Standard's provision of prohibiting early entry to
perform routine hand labor tasks. EPA will grant or deny a request for
an exception based on a risk-benefit analysis. This analysis takes into
account both the added risks and the benefits from allowing early entry
to perform hand labor tasks.
    On June 10, 1994 (59 FR 30265), EPA granted an exception which
allows, under specified conditions, early entry into pesticide-treated
areas in greenhouses to harvest cut roses. In the Federal Register of
May 3, 1995 (60 FR 21953), two additional exceptions were granted which
allow early-entry to perform irrigation and limited contact tasks under
specified conditions.

B. Chemical-Specific Information

    Chlorothalonil is a wettable granular fungicide used to control

Downey Mildew disease, and has been classified as a probable human
(Category B2) carcinogen. Chlorothalonil has eye irritation
concerns and other delayed health effects (kidney effects). The REI has
been set for 48 hours. The pre-harvest interval (PHI) for melons and
squash is at 0-days. The PHI is the time duration that must elapse, in
days, from the last day of application to the first day that a crop can
be harvested. The Registration Eligibility Document (RED) is scheduled
for completion this year and changes to the REI and the PHI may occur.

II. Summary of Delaware's Petition

    The State of Delaware has petitioned under Sec. 170.112(e) the Agency to
allow early entry by workers into chlorothalonil-treated cantaloupe and squash
fields to perform hand labor harvesting 24 hours after the spray application.
Delaware's petition states that if growers cannot harvest daily they will
suffer substantial economic losses. The time period for the exception
requested is from July 1 through September 15, 1995.

A. Need for Early Entry

    According to the request, cantaloupe and squash are under severe
disease pressure from Downey mildew in Delaware, and if unchecked, it
can destroy the crop. The practice is to apply chlorothalonil every 7
days where Downy mildew is a problem. Delaware contends that
considerable fruit could be damaged or lost during a 48-hour REI, due
to the inability to harvest mature crops. The alternatives to
chlorothalonil are Maneb or Penncozeb, both of which have a PHI of 5
days. Delaware states that rescheduling sprays would not be practical
because the 7-day spray schedule is followed to protect against Downey
mildew infection. Delaware contends that regardless of how a grower
schedules sprays, there would be a 48-hour REI following a spray
application, and weather and crop maturity may require harvest during
that time. According to Delaware, the average plot size is 1 acre and
requires 2 to 5 workers to harvest 1 hour per field. Workers would
harvest several fields over an 8-hour day. Delaware also maintains that
machine harvesting of cantaloupe or squash is not feasible. The State
of Delaware is open to suggestions from the Agency for any means to
mitigate possible eye hazards to harvest crews.

B. Proposed Terms of Exception

    The State of Delaware has proposed the following protective
measures:
    1. No harvesting would be performed until 24 hours after
application.
    2. Growers harvesting cantaloupe and squash between 24 and 48 hours
following the application of chlorothalonil would provide oral warnings
to workers to avoid contacting their eyes with their hands and forearms
or any clothing which may be in contact with the foliage during
harvest. They would give this warning at the start of each workday.
    3. Workers would be given instructions at the beginning of the
workday to wash their hands, forearms, and faces after every 2 hours or
at the conclusion of a period of picking if less than 2 hours.
    4. To accommodate the increased use of water at the field
decontamination site, the grower would provide 3 gallons of water or
have running water available, as opposed to the recommended 1 gallon of
water per worker.
    The State of Delaware concludes that the costs of these measures
are inconsequential when compared with the expected loss in the crop
value without the exception.

C. Economic Impact

    The exception request addresses 450 acres of cantaloupe and squash
production, potentially affected by the Downey mildew disease. Based on
Delaware's 1993 statistics, the revenue amount for cantaloupe is $2,250
per acre. The inability to harvest in time would result in decreased
revenue per acre. An estimated percentage of loss was not provided, but
would be determined by estimating the amount of acreage expected to be
lost due to inability to harvest mature fruit during the REI after
application of chlorothalonil.
    As the State of Delaware indicated, if the Agency were to grant the
exception, in conjunction with the measures proposed by the State of
Delaware, the agricultural employer would also be required to ensure
that the protective measures in Sec. 170.112(c)(3) through (c)(9) are
met. These measures specify that the PPE required, daily for early
entry, is provided, cleaned, and maintained for the worker;
decontamination and change areas are provided; basic training and
label-specific information is provided; and measures to prevent heat-
related illness are implemented, when appropriate. The Agency may add
additional specific measures based on comments received.

III. Comments and Information Solicited

    The Agency desires more information and is therefore, interested in
receiving a full range of comments on this proposed exception. In
particular, the Agency welcomes comments supported by information,
including evidence demonstrating whether the risks to workers would be
acceptable, given the measures proposed, and whether the use of
personal protective equipment, engineering controls, any additional
decontamination procedures, and safety training in these circumstances
would be feasible. The Agency is interested in any available data on
how heat stress can be mitigated effectively, and whether there are any
reports of chlorothalonil poisoning incidents involving harvesters. The
Agency also would like comments regarding the appropriate time limit on
activities performed during the REI. Comments on feasible alternative
fungicides or integrated pest management practices that would make
early entry for hand harvesting unnecessary, and their associated costs
are also solicited. The Agency would welcome any additional information
concerning the economic impact (yield and/or price) on this industry of
prohibiting hand harvesting during the full 48-hour REI for this
fungicide. Information on average production life of squash and
cantaloupe, and the stages of maturity required for different markets
is further solicited.
    In addition, the Agency requests comments on whether other States
in which chlorothalonil is used on cantaloupe and squash would need a
comparable exception. The States of Florida and Iowa have expressed a
similar need for workers to enter chlorothalonil-treated cantaloupe and
tomato fields to perform hand labor harvest before the expiration of
the 48-hour REI. If Delaware's exception request is granted, the Agency
may consider extending the exception beyond the State of Delaware,
pending demonstration of need by other States. Interested parties have
30 days from the publication of this notice to comment.
    A record has been established for this action under docket number
"OPP-250106" (including comments and data submitted electronically as
described below). A public version of this record, including printed,
paper versions of electronic comments, which does not include any
information claimed as CBI, is available for inspection from 8 a.m. to
4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The public
record is located in Rm. 1132 of the Public Response and Program
Resources Branch, Field Operations Division (7506C), Office of
Pesticide Programs, Environmental Protection Agency, Crystal Mall #2,
1921 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA.
    Electronic comments can be sent directly to EPA at:
                       opp-docket@epamail.epa.gov

    Electronic comments must be submitted as an ASCII file avoiding the
use of special characters and any form of encryption.
    The official record for this action, as well as the public version,
as described above will be kept in paper form. Accordingly, EPA will
transfer all comments received electronically into printed, paper form
as they are received and will place the paper copies in the official
record which will also include all comments submitted directly in
writing. The official record is the paper record maintained at the
address in "ADDRESSES" at the beginning of this document.

List of Subjects

    Environmental protection, Occupational safety and health, Pesticides and
Pests.

    Dated: June 8, 1995.
Susan H. Wayland,
Acting Assistant Administrator for Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic
Substances.