[Regulatory Update] New pyrethroid labels a reality in California

Features - Pesticide Issues

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) issued its final new surface water regulations governing the use of pyrethroid pesticides by PMPs.

August 31, 2012
Brad Harbison

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has issued its final new surface water regulations governing the use of pyrethroid pesticides by pest management professionals.

Effective July 19, according to the regulations, “applications to vertical structural surfaces, such as walls, foundations, and fencing, must be made using only . . . (1) Spot treatment (2) Crack and crevice treatment (3) Pin stream treatment of one-inch wide or less (4) Perimeter band treatment up to a maximum of two feet above grade level.”

Pest management professionals will not be allowed to make broadcast applications to hard horizontal surfaces (such as driveways and concrete walkways). And PMPs applying granules will be required to sweep any granules that land on hard surfaces back onto the treatment site. Additional restrictions also apply.

According to California Department of Pesticide Regulations Director Brian R. Leahy, the new regulations will “significantly limit the amount of pesticides applied outdoors, especially to concrete and other hard surfaces more susceptible to runoff.”

Many California pest control operators had been preparing their businesses for these changes, including Jim Steed, owner of Neighborly Pest Control, Roseville, Calif., who said his company has been discussing the changes for the last 18 months, and adjusting equipment accordingly. “When the final standards were released we had a thorough review of them on July 2, at our office, and on July 17, we did a hands-on training meeting at my home,” he said. “All of the technicians participated in evaluating the sight and making the correct type of application to the correct area. Although we had discussed this in detail for some time, many of the technicians had trouble grasping the principles until we did the hands-on training.”

Steed said he does not believe the new labels will impact his company’s bottom-line, noting, “The primary expense of any pest service is the labor. After we established an application pattern that seemed to be in compliance, the total time to service a home seemed to stay the same. The unknown cost factor here is callbacks. We may have to make adjustments in product or technique if we see a spike in callbacks.”

California’s new regulations closely mirror the sweeping changes the U.S. EPA is making to pyrethroid labels nationally. There were two important issues surrounding new pyrethroid labels that the National Pest Management Association asked EPA for clarification on:

(1) Whether or not certain label directions were advisory or mandatory, to which EPA responded, “EPA confirmed that those statements are ‘best management practices’ and ‘not written to be mandatory, enforceable statements.’”

(2) An amendment to labels allowing products to be used “to treat building surfaces for brown marmorated stink bugs, kudzu bugs, boxelder bugs, spiders, cluster flies, multicolored Asian ladybeetles, clover mites and carpenter bees, provided that the application does not exceed the point of runoff, and the surface being treated is above a permissible treatment site like a lawn, soil, turf or other vegetation, and not above an impervious surface or other use site that may not be treated.”

EPA has denied this second request, a point of consternation for many PCOs, especially those who do a lot of treatments for overwintering pests. “Under the new federal label language, on the siding of a house the only thing you can do is a crack and crevice or spot treatment, or treat up to 3-feet high, or treat up in the eaves,” said NPMA Senior Vice President Bob Rosenberg. “What PMPs are saying is that there are situations where you want to be able to do more than a crack and crevice or a spot treatment or treat the eaves.” (Note: New California pyrethroid labels differ in that PMPs will be restricted to applying pyrethroids up to 2-feet high.)

Rosenberg said he’s hopeful EPA will re-consider NPMA’s proposed amendment regarding overwintering pests, and he noted that this proposal has the support of ASPCRO (the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials); SFIREG (the State-FIFRA Issues Research and Evaluation Group) and the PWG (Pyrethroid Working Group) — groups whose opinions carry weight within EPA.

In the meantime, PMPs can continue to use existing stock in accordance to existing stock label directions. The only exception is California; however, as Neighborly’s Steed noted, “That exemption will be very important for those in areas where these pests are a big problem. Boxelder bugs used to be a big problem around here, but not so much in the last 10 years. Carpenter bees can be controlled with spot sprays. The other pests are not a problem in our part of the state.”


The author is Internet editor of PCT and can be contacted at bharbison@giemedia.com.