Editor’s note: This is part one of a six-part rodent management series.
The recent revisions to rodenticide product labels — the second in the past several months — is the
culmination of more than a year of dialogue among the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials (ASPCRO), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The latest changes:
■ extend the distance bait may be placed from buildings;
■ replace the word “buildings” with the phrase “man-made structures”; and
■ clarify permitted burrow-baiting practices.
“The newly approved changes to the rodenticide labels will allow [pest management professionals] PMPs the necessary flexibility to manage dangerous, destructive rodent infestations more effectively,” says Chris Gorecki, Orkin’s vice president of government affairs and the chairman of NPMA’s Government Affairs Committee. “The label changes are a vast improvement that will allow the professional pest management industry to service its clients and protect public health better.”
Extending the distance
The most frequent concern NPMA staff heard from PMPs about the language added to rodenticide
product labels last June was the prohibition of the bait placement farther than 50 feet from buildings.
“We received a lot of calls from PMPs concerned about not being able to continue to use rodenticides
at their long-standing accounts,” says Jim Fredericks, NPMA’s director of technical services. “Through these phone calls, we were able to develop a compelling list to provide EPA officials with examples of settings where it’s necessary to use products more than 50 feet from buildings to control rodent infestations.”
Before the language restricting the placement of rodenticide bait to within 50 feet of buildings, product labels permitted rodenticide use “in and around” buildings. EPA and state officials long had been concerned about the ambiguity of the language and the difficulty enforcing it. However, the rigid 50-foot restriction, which stemmed from U.S. EPA’s 2008 Risk Mitigation Decision (RMD) for Ten Rodenticides, failed to consider the many settings rodents frequent that lack buildings, such as ports and parks.
NPMA, ASPCRO and other interested stakeholders considered and discussed with EPA officials numerous distances that would balance EPA’s commitment to protecting against non-target or secondary exposure to rodenticides with the need for a more workable, flexible label to manage rodent infestations in all situations.
EPA agreed to extend the distance from 50 feet to 100 feet. As part of their integrated pest management
(IPM) programs, health departments and other government and non-governmental organizations recommend dumpsters and trash receptacles be placed at least 50 feet from buildings. This was especially compelling to EPA officials.
One food producer group cited a striking example of storing finished tomato paste in sealed containers
farther than 50 feet from a building to accommodate vehicular traffic. Buildings vs. man-made structures EPA officials also agreed to replace the word “buildings” with the phrase “man-made structures constructed in a manner so as to be vulnerable to commensal rodent invasions and/or to harboring or attracting rodent infestations.”
Examples of such structures are:
■ homes and other permanent or temporary residences;
■ food-processing facilities;
■ industrial and commercial buildings;
■ trash receptacles;
■ agricultural and public buildings;
■ transport vehicles (ships, trains, aircraft); and
■ docks and port of terminal buildings and related structures around and
associated with these sites.
Because one of EPA’s primary concerns throughout the rodenticide registration process was indiscriminate fence-line baiting, the new language makes clear that, for the label purposes, a fence isn’t a man-made structure constructed in a manner that’s vulnerable to commensal rodent invasions
and/or to harboring or attracting rodent infestations. Therefore, placing rodenticides along a fence farther than 100 feet from a man-made structure is a label violation.
The latest revisions allow for additional flexibility when treating rodent burrows. First-generation and non-anticoagulant rodenticides can be used to treat burrows farther than 100 feet from man-made structures, provided the rodent infestations have been confirmed.
To address EPA’s concerns about non-target exposure and reducing the possibility of bait
translocation, language is being added to the new rodenticide labels that requires bait to be placed
at least 6 inches deep in active Norway rat or roof rat burrows. Furthermore, the latest revisions
prohibit burrow baiting with block, soft bait and sachet-formulated rodenticide products. These
changes apply to all products (first- and second-generation and non-anticoagulants), regardless of
distance from a man-made structure.
Just in time for the new season
The timing of the approval of the new labels is as important as the label revisions. It’s likely
many areas of the country will experience larger-than-normal rodent populations — a byproduct
of the unseasonably warm winter — so the more flexible label is timely.
New product labels will hit the marketplace shortly. Rodenticide manufacturers have submitted amended labels to the EPA, and might sticker over old labels to expedite introduction of the new labels to the channel of commerce. Only the product manufacturer may over-sticker; distributors and end users are prohibited from doing so.
Read the rule books
These latest label revisions mean there will be three significantly different rodenticide product
labels in the marketplace soon. Therefore, it’s incumbent on PMPs and their technicians to
read rodenticide product labels carefully.
Technicians are required to apply the products in accordance with the directions on the label of the product they’re using, so the fact another label might have different directions is irrelevant. PMPs should verify the label of the product they’re purchasing with their distributor.
Sometimes good public policy requires multiple stakeholders to become involved. That was the case with revising the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) “Rodenticide Mitigation Decision (RMD) for Ten Rodenticides,” where it was clear the EPA was looking for advice from a cross-section of stakeholders. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) helped establish the Ad Hoc Rodenticide RMD Stakeholder Workgroup, whose efforts were instrumental to the most recent label revisions. Members include:
■ Dr. Bobby Corrigan, City of New York and RMC Consultants
■ Jim Fredericks, NPMA
■ Chris Gorecki, Orkin Pest Control and NPMA
■ Gene Harrington, NPMA
■ Derrick Lastinger, State of Georgia and ASPCRO
■ Steve Levy, Bell Labs
■ Deni Naumann, Copesan and NPMA
■ Rob Neenan, California League of Food Processors
■ Bonnie Rabe, State of New Mexico and ASPCRO
■ Bob Rosenberg, NPMA
■ John Scott, State of Colorado and ASPCRO
■ Carl Tanner, Liphatech
Group representatives met with EPA numerous times to provide examples of where the label language from last June undermined or contradicted long-standing rodent management programs. Hundreds
of pest management professionals (PMPs), suppliers and state regulators provided valuable input. They contacted the EPA to express concerns about the new language, and provided tangible examples of how the new 50-foot language would compromise public health and safety.
Without the participation of all, it’s doubtful a positive result would have been reached as quickly — or at all.
An outstanding issue
The label revisions enacted last June severely limited the types of species many rodenticides could be used to manage. Specifically, the revised labels state the product can only be used to control Norway
rats, roof rats and house mice. Thus, rodenticide products containing such language can’t be used to treat for deer mice, white-footed mice, or wood rats (pack rats), for example.
EPA enacted the change because it has a long-standing mandate that efficacy data accompany the registration or reregistration of public health pesticides, and it has never received such data for non-commensal rodents. Rodenticide manufacturers counter that the market doesn’t justify the expense of generating the data. Moreover, many believe the products have a solid track record of controlling
non-commensal rodenticides and safeguarding public health effectively.
The restriction could become problematic for PMPs in western states who deal with just as many non-commensal rodents as the commensal species. Arizona applied to the EPA for a Special Local Needs
(SLN) label under federal pesticide law. The SLN label permits PMPs in Arizona to treat for wood or pack rats. New Mexico is exploring the possibility of seeking an SLN label as well.
NPMA, ASPCRO and rodenticide manufacturers are seeking to revisit the issue with EPA officials in a broader manner than having all states apply for SLN labels.
PMPs’ feedback helped label revision pitches
Throughout the past year, NPMA staff heard from countless PMPs about the difficulties of managing rodent problems at certain accounts and settings under the previous rodenticide label restrictions. These discussions with PMPs made clear that almost every professional would encounter situations in which a use pattern they previously applied no longer was permitted under the revised rodenticide product labels, crystallizing the importance of modifying the labels as quickly as possible.
The U.S. EPA’s “Risk Mitigation Decision (RMD) for Ten Rodenticides applies to these active ingredients:
■ Zinc phosphide
The risk mitigation decision does not apply to rodenticide field uses or to tracking powder products.
Risks associated with field uses and tracking powder products were addressed in the 1998 Zinc Phosphide and Rodenticide Cluster Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED) documents. In those REDs, the EPA required restricted use classification for all field use products (except those limited to manual underground baiting) and for all tracking powder products.
7 key points in the latest rodenticide label revisions
■ Extend the distance rodenticides may be placed from buildings from 50 feet to 100 feet.
■ Replaces the word “buildings” with the phrase “man-made structures constructed in manner that’s vulnerable to commensal rodent invasions and/or harboring or attracting rodent infestations.”
■ Examples of “man-made structures constructed in a manner so as to be vulnerable to commensal rodent invasions and/or harboring or attracting rodent infestations” include homes and other permanent or temporary residences, food-processing facilities, industrial and commercial buildings, trash receptacles, agricultural and public buildings, transport vehicles (ships, trains, aircraft), docks and port of terminal buildings, and related structures around and associated with these sites.
■ A fence isn’t considered to be a structure.
■ First-generation and non-anticoagulant rodenticides may be used to treat burrows further than 100
feet from man-made structures.
■ Bait must be placed at least 6 inches deep into burrows.
■ Block, soft bait and sachet formulations may not be used in rodent burrows.
What about homeowner products?
Revising label language for professional products was a secondary issue for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during the rodenticide registration process. Shortly after the process began in the fall of 1998, the future availability of homeowner rodenticides became the dominant, if not singular issue.
While the EPA seriously considered classifying certain rodenticides as restricted-use pesticides (RUPs) as a means to keep such rodenticides out of the hands of homeowners, the agency decided against designating any additional types of rodenticides as RUPs. Instead, the EPA entered into distribution agreements with rodenticide manufacturers to prevent many types of rodenticides from entering channels of commerce — such as hardware and big box stores — where the products would be easily
accessible to homeowners.
The EPA established minimum-quantity requirements for different types of rodenticides. For example, second-generation professional rodenticide products now must be purchased in 16-pound quantities, while first-generation and non-anticoagulant products must be bought in 4-pound quantities. Most notably, the EPA limited the types of formulations available for homeowner purchase to block baits with tamper-resistant bait stations.
Reckitt Benckiser, the manufacturer of d-CON, strongly objected to the EPA’s proposed restrictions
and fied suit in federal district court. In January 2011, Reckitt scored a significant legal victory: The
court ruled the EPA had circumvented the process to which Reckitt, as a manufacturer, was entitled
under federal pesticide law, and directed the EPA to follow the law’s cancellation process.
A significant step in the cancellation process took place in December 2011, when a scientific advisory
panel met outside the nation’s capital to consider key science and technical issues related to the EPA’s
decision to limit homeowner access to rodenticides. The issue is expected to play out administratively
and legally during the next few years, and probably won’t be resolved completely before 2015.
Harrington, director of government affairs for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rosenberg, NPMA’s senior vice president of government affairs, can be reached at email@example.com.
On the Web
For additional documentation about the changes to rodenticide labels:
■ NPMApestworld.org/docs/ePestWorld/50%20Foot%20Document%20Clarif cation%20to%20Bell%20(3%2020%2012)(Signed)1.pdf