Tuesday, June 18, 2013

USDA Expands Use of Methyl Bromide Fumigant

Today the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published a notice in the Federal Register (78 FR 36507-36508) concerning a proposed new treatment schedule for the use of the fumigant methyl bromide. According to the notice APHIS has “determined that it is necessary to immediately add to the Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) Treatment Manual an additional treatment schedule for methyl bromide fumigation of blueberries for Mediterranean fruit fly and South American fruit fly”.

This is not actually a new use for methyl bromide, but a modification (lowering the application temperature from 70° F to 60° F) of the currently approved treatment procedure (T101-i-1-1). It does, however, provide an example of why the Environmental Protection Agency is having such a difficult time phasing out the use of methyl bromide as a fumigant under the provisions of the Montreal Protocol on the Protection of Atmospheric Ozone. Methyl bromide is just too effective a tool as a pesticidial (okay that’s probably made-up, but it ought to be a word) fumigant.

Public comments on this proposed action (which becomes effective upon publication of this notice today) may be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal (www.Regulations.gov; Docket # APHIS-2013-0007). Such comments need to be submitted by August 19th, 2013.

ABBREVIATED RANT: The toxic-inhalation-hazard (TIH) chemical methyl bromide was not included in the current list of DHS chemicals of interest for the CFATS program (Appendix A, 6 CFR Part 27) because it was ‘being phased out of commercial use’ by the EPA. Needless to say it is still in general use and should be added to Appendix A.

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