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  You are here:  ProgramsPublic Policy InitiativesMaine Board of Pesticides Control ReportsBPC – Feb 05   
 Board Addresses Indoor Pesticide Applications Minimize


Board Addresses Indoor Pesticide Applications
Bee Mites
Responses to Requests
Consent Agreements



Board Addresses Indoor Pesticide Applications

The Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) began its Feb. 18 meeting with a workshop to review comments submitted by the public regarding proposed standards for interior pesticide applications. Representatives of many industries – including correctional facilities, nursing homes and restaurants – had objected to the BPC's proposed requirement for 24-hour notification to employees or building residents before application of pesticides, claiming that this would be expensive and inconvenient. The board resolved to rewrite the rule to require a one-time notice to employees when they are hired; this notice would include an offer to provide future notification prior to specific spraying events if the employee so desired. Hospital patients and nursing home residents would receive a similar notice upon admission. Inmates of correctional facilities would receive notice upon admission but would not have the option of receiving future notice, because the Maine Department of Corrections was concerned that "prisoner grievances would increase significantly."

The Board further resolved to develop a universal symbol for posting at doors of public buildings to alert the public (who are not protected by the notification requirements) that pesticides are used in the building; a phone number on the sign would enable concerned persons to inquire about specific spraying events.

Finally, pesticides that have no reentry period stated on the label will have a reentry period defined as "adequate time for product to dry and carriers to dissipate."

The board received 13 letters offering opinions on and suggestions for the proposed rule as well as 37 identical postcards supporting the rule as written. In one letter Richard Grotton, president of the Maine Restaurant Association, stated that following labels and guidelines written by manufacturers and the EPA should sufficiently guarantee safety. This sparked a discussion of automatic pesticide misters, which emit bursts of pesticide spray at timed intervals and are sometimes used in food handling facilities with manufacturer and EPA approval. "That doesn't sound very IPM-ish to me," said staff member Lebelle Hicks. The board agreed that such machines should be uniformly banned.

Andrew Hackman, writing for the Chemical Specialty Products Association, requested that the exemption from notification rules when spraying for biting or stinging insects (an exemption that covers such activities as using insect repellents and wasp killers) be extended to "other pests of public health significance." The EPA maintains a list of such pests; this could form a basis for rulemaking, and state entomologist Kathleen Murray confirmed that organisms such as rats and cockroaches carry a documented health risk. However, board chair Carol Eckert, M.D., said that she would distinguish between biting insects, which can actually inject pathogens, and organisms that are merely sanitation issues. Chief of compliance Henry Jennings pointed out that pesticide treatments for rodent infestations are rarely as urgent as treating live hornet nests, and that while fumigating for rats requires a license, using insect repellent does not.

Alison Johnson, an author and activist, urged the board to protect individuals suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. While the board maintained that the purpose of the rule was to protect long-term occupants, Eckert suggested that the rule could require building managers to supply information on pesticide use to anyone who inquires. Staff member Heather Jackson expressed concern about liability in the case of accidental or purposeful misinformation, but Eckert likened the pesticide issue to the issue of allergens in restaurant food.

Sarah Rockwell, a tenant and student in Portland, wrote to urge the board to require notification be provided in the native language of the employee or building resident, and to provide verbal as well as written notification due to the relatively high rates of functional illiteracy in many parts of Maine. The board felt that providing notice in all native languages might not be practicable – Eckert stated that around 50 languages are spoken in Portland – but that a universal symbol, if well advertised, could be understood by foreigners and functionally illiterate persons. Board member Lee Humphreys suggested that foreign language agencies in Portland or foreign language departments at Maine colleges might help disseminate information to many ethnic groups, and stated that such an endeavor would be worthy of board effort even if it could not be included in the legal language of the rule.

Bee Mites

The board began its regular meeting by approving Section 18 emergency registration renewal requests for coumaphos and thymol to control Varroa mites and small hive beetles in managed bee colonies. Varroa mites have exhibited resistance to currently approved control measures, such as fluvalinate. State apiarist Anthony Jadczak told the board of the importance of the beekeeping industry to agriculture due to the pollination services it provides and warned that the industry was endangered in part due to pest problems. He stated that because registered products do not effectively control mites, many beekeepers are using "biological"-like coumaphos and thymol "under the table." These treatments are more hazardous to the applicator than their synthetic counterparts, because they are strong corrosives, but they leave fewer environmentally harmful residues. Neither coumaphos nor thymol is permitted for organic honey production.

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Responses to Requests

The board granted the request of Ashley Brewer of Northeast Applicators LLC to cease to require sampling potatoes from storage lots treated with chlopropham, a sprout inhibitor. Brewer agreed in 2003 to perform residue testing after the board approved a Special Local Needs registration for the product. The highest residue level that appeared was 21.8 ppm on unwashed, unpeeled potatoes, significantly lower than the 30 ppm tolerance set by the EPA for washed and peeled potatoes. Brewer stated that he intended to continue testing some samples for his own information and would share results with the board, but he did not want the sampling to be mandated.

The board passed Wyman and Sons' blueberry pest management plan for the Deblois Critical Pesticide Control Area (CPCA), which contains a state-owned fish hatchery. The plan restricts the kinds and frequencies of pesticide applications within 500 feet of the spring or 250 feet of the stream. Permitted pesticides include Bt products for controlling spanworm, Mycotrol ES for flea beetles, and Malathion for fruit flies. The plan also includes methods for minimizing drift, such as restricting boom length on plane sprayers and planting trees between blueberry fields and the water.

RWC, Inc. received its annual variance for its railroad vegetation management program. RWC and other vegetation management companies that work on railways are routinely exempted from the requirement to record all sensitive areas within 500 feet of the spray pattern. Instead the companies keep a 10-foot buffer from open water and employ a spotter to run ahead of the spray rig and alert the operators when sensitive areas, such as water bodies or residences, occur. RWC also uses only glyphosate within one-half mile of Sebago and Phillips Lakes, restricting use of the more toxic Karmex to rail yards.

The staff submitted an amendment to Chapter 31 clarifying that commercial applicator licenses depend on company affiliation, a detail that had evaded several applicators. If an employee obtains an applicator license under one company, then moves to another company, he or she retains certification but must acquire a new license. Independent contractors are licensed as sole proprietors and retain licenses when they shift contracts among companies.

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Consent Agreements

The board approved two consent agreements negotiated with persons who admitted to infracting upon pesticide rules. Carl R. Smith III, a potato grower in Newport, was fined $200 for failing to comply with EPA's Worker Protection Standard for three years in a row. The Worker Protection Standard, which was passed in 1992 and became enforceable in 1994, provides that employees handling potentially dangerous substances such as pesticides be properly trained in their use at least once every five years. Smith was first advised of his noncompliance with this law in 2002, and two subsequent annual inspections showed no improvement. Board member Seth Bradstreet, also a potato grower, said that he had heard many complaints of unequal treatment of growers by various inspectors; the manner in which inspections are conducted varies widely across the country and enforcement tends to be spotty.

Dana Wright, a Littleton potato grower, was fined $300 for seven instances of providing fraudulent records to the board. He and his brother Dennis were required to attend continuing education programs in order to extend their private pesticide application licenses beyond the initial three-year period. Because Dennis Wright was unwilling or unable to attend these programs, Dana attended alone and signed and submitted seven Recertification Attendance and Credit Forms in his brother's name. A clerk in the BPC office noticed the identical handwriting. Eckert recommended changing the rules for the education programs to require an observed sign-in at the beginning and a certificate collection at the end to prevent such infractions.

Reported by Alice Torbert

© 2005. For information on reproducing this article, please contact the author.

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