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  You are here:  ProgramsPublic Policy InitiativesMaine Board of Pesticides Control ReportsBPC – Spring 2011   
 Maine BPC – Spring 2011 Minimize


BPC Adopts Policy on Homemade Pesticides
Notification Discussions Continue
Product Registrations
Pesticide Application Rule Violations

BPC Adopts Policy on Homemade Pesticides


The Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) adopted a policy in December 2010 regarding the use of homemade pesticides. In statute, a pesticide is defined as “any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pests and any substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant or desiccant.” So, common household products such as vinegar and dish soap, when used to control pests, are considered unregistered pesticides.

The BPC adopted loose language allowing it to “use [its] enforcement discretion regarding the use of common consumer products or homemade mixtures when those products or mixtures are applied by the individual that purchased the product or created the mixture.”

Growers who produce and sell agricultural products should know that, when a tolerance level for a particular pesticide has not been established, federal legislation prohibits residue of that pesticide on products. The Maine Division of Quality Assurance and Regulations can tell growers which products have established tolerance levels. If you have a question about a particular product or either of these policies, please contact me Katy Green at kgreen@mofga.org or 568-4142.

The BPC seems particularly concerned about using homemade pesticides in schools and municipal buildings at this point, but does not have a formal position concerning home gardeners who use homemade pesticides.

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Notification Discussions Continue

A BPC report for the legislature regarding a comprehensive pesticide notification registry recommends notification distances that are mostly in line with those that MOFGA sought in its testimony, but they leave two important questions unanswered and request guidance from the legislature. Those questions are, “Who should identify properties that trigger notification?” and, “What types of pesticide applicators should be required to notify neighbors under a comprehensive notification registry?”

The BPC has received many comments from various stakeholder groups about who should initiate notification, but members of the ad hoc Public Health Committee and some members of the board staff generally agree that pesticide users should initiate notification. Also, stakeholder groups almost unanimously support that the comprehensive registry include outdoor pesticide applications by homeowners, but the BPC believes it cannot regulate so many people. Given the number of new members on the Legislature’s Agricultural Committee, it is unclear if they will have enough background on the subject to answer and provide guidance on these questions.

Further, multiple bills being introduced during this Legislative session jeopardize the BPC’s year of work on the registry. MOFGA staff members have been working with Representative Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan) on a bill that would establish a simple, efficient, effective notification registry for people who want information about all outdoor commercial pesticide applications in their neighborhoods – a bill that follows logically from the BPC’s work on notification. See www.mofga.org for current information about this and other bills relating to organic farming and gardening in Maine.

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Product Registrations

In November, the BPC approved a Special Local Need request submitted by David Yarborough of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension for Asulox Herbicide (EPA Reg. No. 70506-139) in blueberries. The product was approved with the conditions that it be applied only in non-bearing years; no more than once every other year; and via spot treatment. Additionally, because of the high runoff and leaching potential of the herbicide, the BPC recommended that the staff monitor water quality where it’s used. With the exception of Chuck Ravis, who cited groundwater concerns, BPC members approved the registration. The EPA lists Asulam, the active ingredient in Asulox, as a possible human carcinogen.

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Pesticide Application Rule Violations

On July 16, 2010, a Plum Creek employee reported that he unintentionally sprayed a 25- by 1,400-foot swath on an adjoining property with a mix of Accord Herbicide (EPA Reg. No. 62719-324) and Arsenal Herbicide (EPA Reg. No. 241-299). The applicator, JBI Helicopters of Pembroke, New Hampshire, acknowledged that the error damaged the adjoining property. The BPC unanimously approved a consent agreement with JBI Helicopters and fined the company $300. Board member Dan Simonds abstained from voting because of a prior relationship with JBI Helicopters.

Lawn Dawg, a Portland landscape company, was cited for failing to notify a registrant on the urban Pesticide Notification Registry of a pesticide application on an abutting property. The registrant observed the application of Quinstar Turf Herbicide (EPA Reg. # 42750-90) and notified the BPC that he had not been given prior notice. Patrick Devoe, Lawn Dawg manager, said the company had a system in place for notifying registrants, but the system had failed this time. The company, which was fined $500, has implemented a backup system to prevent such an incident from recurring.

In December, the BPC unanimously approved a consent agreement with Michael Mills Landscaping of Rumford. A caller told the BPC that a company employee was applying pesticides without a commercial applicator license. During the investigation BPC staff discovered that the employee also was not wearing protective clothing required by the pesticide label and was not keeping the necessary application records. The BPC fined the company $500.

Similarly, a caller told the BPC that Magic Carpet Cleaning and Restoration Inc., of South Portland, was performing mold remediation without the required commercial pesticide applicator license. The company acknowledged routinely using Mircroban Disinfectant Spray Plus (EPA Reg. # 70385-5) in its mold remediation efforts. The company was fined $350 and has since sought the appropriate licenses.

– Katy Green

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