Consumer advocates are fighting a new rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency that aims to address concerns over “inert” ingredients, including fragrances and dyes, in pesticides for non-food use. They say the proposal, which could become final this year, doesn’t go far enough to protect human health and the environment from the ingredients’ potential impacts, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.
Britt E. Erickson, a senior editor at C&EN, explains that current EPA regulations require manufacturers of pesticides for non-food use, such as wood preservatives and flea repellents, to reveal these products’ active ingredients but not the additives. The industry says disclosing the rest of the ingredients would allow competitors to copy their proprietary formulations. But consumer advocates argue that these additives, despite what their inert label implies, are not necessarily harmless.
The fight over regulations for these inert ingredients dates back nearly 10 years. In a 2006 petition, advocacy groups and 15 state attorneys general claimed that 371 of these additives are hazardous to people’s health. Three years later, the EPA responded by proposing a rule to require companies to disclose all pesticides’ inert ingredients but then replaced it in 2014 with a ban on 72 of them. The agency is accepting comments until Jan. 20 and could finalize the rule later this year.