Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Maine Board of Pesticides Control - May, June July 2006

Maine BPC Reports \ BPC May 2006

Aerial Spraying, Organophosphates, Browntail Moth Control Addressed by Board of Pesticides Control

Note: This article reports on the Maine BPC meetings that were held in
May, June, and July of 2006.

At its May 12, 2006, meeting, the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) unanimously approved a 24 (c) Special Local Needs Registration for Ranman Fungicide (cyazofamid) to control pink rot on potatoes, for which older fungicides, such as Ridomil, are not working. Ranman also controls late blight, which is in the same genus as pink rot. Staff toxicologist Lebelle Hicks said that Ranman is not carcinogenic in rodents, is not acutely toxic, and is less toxic and has fewer health effects than other fungicides. Thomas Qualey, new Board member and potato grower, affirmed that pink rot is hard to discover and diagnose. Often potatoes look fine at harvest but rot in storage.

Chapter 26 Passed After Two Decades

The Board adopted – after two decades of work – Chapter 26: Rules for notification of indoor pesticide application in structures other than schools, after the staff made minor language improvements. Section 3a was changed after comments that the building manager or owner should share responsibility for notice with the applicator. A paragraph added that the applicator may provide information to the landlord or building manager, who can than post it or provide it to tenants. The applicator must confirm with the manager or landlord that the information has been posted. Board member Lee Humphreys was pleased that both parties must confirm notification.

The BPC staff also changed the rule so that applicators need not give the reason for pesticide applications when posting information or alerting tenants or workers. The Board and applicators were concerned that owners of sprayed apartments may not want others in their building to know, for example, that they had bed bugs.

In a few places in the rule, baits, gels and crevice applications are allowed if humans are present. The staff said that labels on some baits, gels and crevice products say that they cannot be applied while humans are present. The staff did not want applicators to interpret that the rule overrode labeling requirements. The staff recommended exempting these applications only if the label did not indicate they were not safe to apply in the presence of humans.

The Board generally agreed to begin the rule in January 2007, to give the Secretary of State time to review it and to give the BPC time to train applicators and phase in materials and notices.

Regarding the notice of application to be posted in common areas being sprayed, the BPC clarified that concerned occupants would contact the applicator, and that the notice would have the BPC number on it as well.

New Board member and structural pesticide applicator Richard Stevenson suggested that any non-spray liquid of 25b (minimum risk pesticide) used for crack and crevice application be exempted from notification and human occupancy limitation. He requested waiving notification on dusts and liquid 25b products. Hicks voiced concern about allergic reactions to 25b products, such as oils, even if they are “natural.” She noted that she looks at whether allergic reactions are triggered by any presence of a chemical.

Proposed Amendment to Chapter 22

Regarding a proposed aerial spraying ban, Humphreys said that houses, water bodies, organic fields and other sensitive areas need better protection against pesticide drift. She suggested a stronger drift rule. Simonds agreed with the need to review the drift rule but did not want to ban aerial spraying.

Board member John Jemison learned from the hearings that when potato growers can’t get into wet fields, which is also when disease are worst, they need the option of aerial spraying; he is less sympathetic with blueberry growers who cannot get on their fields with trucks or tractors because of rough terrain. He supports improving the drift rule.

Board member Clyde Walton wanted more information on how problematic aerial spraying was. Qualey did not support the ban. Stevenson thought the public comments raised more questions than they answered – especially about forestry spraying – so he might abstain.

Board chair Carol Eckert, M.D., raised the need to look at the drift rule aggressively. She would like more public comments.

Simonds suggested using new standards that have been used elsewhere, which the industry might voluntarily follow, rather than updating the rule. Some problems could be solved simply by moving the technology ahead 20 years, he explained.

Upon recommendation of their legal counsel, the Board decided not to vote on the petition to ban aerial spraying, which would have the same effect as voting against it. No Board members expressed interest in banning aerial spraying, nor did they object to not voting on the rule change. Eckert and Humphreys wanted the record to show that the Board was interested in re-opening and improving the drift rule. At its July meeting, the Board decided to develop a multi-party stakeholder group to report ideas for minimizing drift and conflict with neighbors when organophosphates are used.

Chapter 28: Registry Fee and Material Safety Data Sheets

Eckert expressed interest in changing the fee to be on a notification registry, and changing distribution requirements of Material Safety Data Sheets. Qualey said that waiving the Registry fee would burden the BPC staff too much, and providing MSDS might cause a paperwork nightmare. Walton disagreed with Qualey, but Stevenson strongly opposed waiving the Registry fee and even recommended raising it, saying, “The day the fee drops, the day it [the Registry] is abused.” Simonds suggested retaining current rules, due to limited public comment on these issues.

Stevenson said that providing the MSDS by email or paper to people on the Registry would be no problem; most applicators give them out already.

Humphreys supported both changes, saying they deal with the public’s right to know. Jemison supported making information more accessible to the public, but was interested in doing something other than simply waiving the Registry fee.

The Board agreed that people should be able to get MSDS for pesticides more easily. However, Qualey was concerned that providing the sheets might make people ask applicators or farmers about toxicology more frequently, and he did not want to feel obligated to respond. Hicks reminded the Board that those questions should be referred to her.

Humphreys motioned to adopt the proposed amendment to require applicators to provide MSDS to Registry members. Walton seconded. Voting in favor were Humphreys, Eckert, and Walton. Jemison, Simonds, Stevenson and Qualey opposed the proposed change. The Board did not motion to vote on adopting the amendment to waive the Registry fee, which effectively rejected the proposed amendment.

Chapter 40: Organophosphates

Regarding the proposal to ban organophosphate pesticides (OPs), Jemison opposed such a broad ban but was heartened by Hicks’ sales data showing their declining use. Humphreys supported the proposed ban, because farmers, citizens and scientists agree that OPs are dangerous and OP use is declining. Simonds would not support a ban; he believes OPs are the best pesticides for some pests. Stevenson and Qualey agreed that OP use has declined in their respective industries, structural pesticide applications and potato farming, but they opposed a ban, as did Walton, who thought a ban would create economic problems for agriculture. Eckert claimed that a ban might be a little premature, but she wants to hasten the decline of OP use to zero.

Eckert and Humphreys voted to ban OPs; other Board members opposed the motion. Jemison agreed that these chemicals deserve more attention and proposed promoting more alternatives.

Browntail Moth Spraying

A new law requires the BPC staff to address the risks and benefits of controlling browntail moths with pesticides in coastal communities. Browntail moth caterpillars cause major health issues such as itching and allergic reactions in many people, but pesticides may impact coastal fisheries. Henry Jennings of the BPC staff explained that staff member Heather Jackson was preparing to monitor the spraying, although no extra funding exists for this purpose. She should have six sites where she can monitor hand-held hydraulic spraying; no one has inquired about aerial spraying.

Another provision requires the Lobster Conservancy and the BPC staff to talk more about protecting lobster from pesticides. The Conservancy and the BPC’s Environmental Risk Assessment Committee (ERAC) disagree about whether juvenile lobsters are threatened by the spraying. If the Conservancy can provide research about lobster development and timing, then ERAC could meet with Freeport area residents and lobstermen.

Eckert said that if the ERAC and lobstermen can agree on a buffer zone, the Legislature could support that. She recommended that the BPC staff provide monitoring data, reconvene ERAC, and hold a public hearing or information session, then make recommendations to the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee.

At its July 2006 meeting, the BPC started gathering information on the subject. Jennifer Anderson from Environment Maine encouraged considering alternative products while the moth population pressure is low. Elizabeth Ring from South Freeport spoke of the challenges of living with browntails and the need to balance control with preserving the environment for coastal fisheries. She wants the state to find a way to eradicate this health hazard. Eckert believes that the moths may trigger long-term health problems, such as asthma.

Tim Linsey from Bartlett Tree challenged the Board to prove that spraying insecticides near water creates a risk to coastal fisheries. Board member Richard Stevenson raised similar questions, and both questioned the impact of insecticides on aquatic life relative to that of fuel slicks they’ve seen on coastal waters.

The Maine Lobsterman’s Association is pushing the Legislature to monitor the issue closely because of a die-off in Long Island Sound a few years ago, where insecticides were considered one probable cause. The ERAC will draft a report for the Board to consider this fall. Because of limited options (cutting out webs and possibly using pheromones in areas of light population pressure), pressure exists to control browntail moth populations whenever they are near residential areas. The extended wet spring in 2006 seems to have knocked populations down.

Groundwater Monitoring

Staff member Heather Jackson gave an update on the third statewide groundwater monitoring report, which is compiled every five to seven years. Results are similar to those in the last report. This session, the Legislature passed LD 1890, which requires a report every six years. Eckert noted the large amount of hexazinone used in blueberry country and acetylaniline used on corn. Jackson explained that a hexazinone-only groundwater study is done every four years and that the new report should be done soon, with more sites than the last study.

Product Registration More Costly

The Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee approved an increase in the product registration fee from $120 to $150 on Jan 1, 2007. The Committee would like the BPC staff to organize two statewide, unused pesticide collections in 2007 with the money from the first year.

The Agriculture Committee reaffirmed that the Board must review two pesticides a year based on use pattern or toxicity risk. Hicks said that the staff has been doing approximately two risk assessments each year recently and is developing a database to reflect this.

Grubs in Lawns

At its July meeting, the BPC learned that as lawns are managed more intensely and kept greener for a longer periods, they become more attractive to a wide range of grubs. The Board discussed whether to make Trichlorfon, an organophosphate, more accessible, i.e., a Restricted Use rather than Limited Use insecticide. Limited Use pesticides can be used only by meeting certain criteria, including economic hardship – which is difficult to show for a lawn. Restricted Use materials must be applied by trained applicators and aren’t available to the general public, but otherwise have relatively few restrictions.

Grub populations in Maine seem to be changing. Japanese beetles are widespread, as are grubs from rose chafers and Asiatic garden beetles. Nematodes provide control, but applications have to be matched to the biology of the prevalent pest, and a July-August application is important. For pesticides, Diazinon, once widely used to control grubs, has been withdrawn. In much of the country, but not in Maine, Trichlorfon is available for general use. That leaves carbaryl (Sevin) and imidacloprid (Merit) as materials of choice here. Carbaryl is applied several times during the season, while Trichlorfon can be used once after a problem is recognized.

Gary Fish from the BPC staff has been working with a committee to develop Best Management Practices for lawn care. The committee is trying to identify the best options for control, and the relative risk/benefits of different controls. After extended discussion, the Board voted to open a rulemaking hearing on this request over the winter, after reviewing the draft Best Management Practices.

Violations and Waivers

In May, the Board approved an enforcement action against Aaron Turner, who admitted to filling out applicator license recertification forms under different names – including for someone who didn’t attend a recertification conference. Board members hope that by taking action, word will spread that they are cracking down on this illegal behavior.

The Board unanimously approved an enforcement action against Lawn Dawg, which made numerous pesticide applications during two days of heavy rain in May 2005. Humphreys said that the punishment was lenient and that lobstermen would be annoyed if they knew how lightly the company was getting off. Jennings said that this investigation made lawn care companies respond more quickly and follow the law more closely than in the past.

The Board unanimously approved enforcement action against a Wal-Mart store that sold Diazinon 14 months after such sales became illegal, despite heavy publicity by the Board, industry and media.

In July, after repeated attempts to reach agreement, the Board voted to have the Attorney General seek enforcement action against the Turf Doctor. The Turf Doctor allegedly made applications to a private landowner’s lawn after the landowner (a judge) asked for no further services. This case sparked a long discussion about written contracts and how landowners can avoid getting services they no longer want.

Another consent agreement was approved, with a fine of $300, regarding a company that applied pesticides as part of general maintenance work without proper licensing.


Among the high priority issues for the year ahead are aerial application standards, organophosphates, and developing a waiver provision for the Board’s notification standards. The Board voted to have the staff develop a proposed rule on the waiver provisions.

The BPC staff has also been asked to begin working on a process to address aerial applications and organophosphates. The two issues are closely related, since much of the impetus for the petitions the Board heard this spring was based on aerial spraying of organophosphates near residences. The Board is interested in reviewing its standards for aerial spraying to see if new technology should be recommended to help minimize drift. While the EPA is reviewing all organophosphates, and azinphos-methyl (Guthion) apparently won’t be used after 2010, the Board’s focus here is on developing a multi-party stakeholder group to report ideas for minimizing drift and conflict with neighbors when organophosphates are used.

Other Actions

The Board asked the staff to develop a proposed rule that would consolidate commercial categories. Maine has many more categories than most other states. The staff was also asked to develop another draft about how to deal with unauthorized applications. Lee Humphreys was nominated and elected vice-chair of the Board.

Eckert presented former BPC member Andy Berry with an award for 25 years of service.

The next BPC meetings will take place on Sept. 15 and Oct. 13 [2006]. Meeting dates and agendas are posted at

– Matthew Davis and Russell Libby