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Department of Pesticide Regulation

The Great Seal of the State of California
Mary-Ann Warmerdam
  Edmund G. Brown Jr.
March 16, 2011
  ENF 11-09
County Agricultural Commissioners



In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) required registrants to make label revisions to their soil fumigant products. These revisions were needed, based on U.S. EPA risk assessments, to add improved safety measures for use of these products nationwide. Although California has long had numerous regulations and recommended permit conditions for use of soil (field) fumigants in addition to the requirements on the label, these newly revised U.S. EPA labels require implementation in California.

U.S. EPA Label Revisions - Highlights

Because most of the country has only the product label to specify pesticide use safety measures, U.S. EPA required revised labels for methyl bromide, metam sodium, metam potassium, chloropicrin, and dazomet soil fumigants. These revised product labels are now registered in California.

Highlights of the U.S. EPA mandated label revisions are as follows:

  • Limits certain application methods
  • Lowers the maximum rate of application
  • Requires line-of-sight supervision by the certified applicator during application
  • Requires a site-specific Fumigant Management Plan (FMP) before fumigation begins; includes a comprehensive Post-Application Summary
  • Expands who is a handler, respiratory protections, and other work activities
  • Mandates stop work triggers and air monitoring when sensory irritation is experienced by any handler involved in the application
  • Makes all soil fumigants federal Restricted Use Products
  • Lengthens time before tarp perforation and removal
  • Requires product registrant to disseminate information about the new labels
  • Creates an Entry Restricted Period
  • Makes certain Good Agricultural Practices, such as soil preparation/tilling/sealing, mandatory

For background information on U.S. EPA's actions, see their website.

Changes Affecting Use in California

In California, as in other states, the U.S. EPA label must be followed. States are allowed to impose requirements more restrictive than U.S. EPA's, but not less restrictive. Over the years, California has passed legislation and regulations strengthening safety measures, such as personal protective equipment, and has recommended permit conditions for use of federal and California-restricted materials.

California-specific activities prompted by the new labels include the following:

  • Training of CAC regulatory staff was conducted jointly by DPR Enforcement Branch, Worker Health and Safety Branch, and U.S. EPA staff at five locations statewide (also included new DPR permit conditions for MITC-generating compounds)
  • Development of FMP templates specific to California needs, approved by U.S. EPA, and now available on DPR's Fumigant Resource Center website.
  • Confirmation of applicator licensing subcategory O as the acceptable license
  • Determination of where new labeling supersedes existing California requirements

Note that where new labeling is more restrictive than existing California laws, regulations, or permit conditions, the label must be followed.

Specific Issues Remaining

The recent training sessions and the issuance of permits have raised several issues regarding implementation of the new requirements. These specific remaining issues and their resolution will be addressed in a separate Question/Answer Enforcement letter.

Future U.S. EPA Label Revisions

In late 2011, U.S. EPA plans to require further label revisions. These will include buffer zones around treated fields, "credits" to reduce emissions, posting at buffer zones, emergency preparedness information in the FMP, registrant-developed training and community outreach including for emergency responders, notification to neighbors, notification to regulators and much more. For information about U.S. EPA's future label changes in 2011 for 2012, see their website.

We will continue to keep you updated on any new requirements for use of soil fumigants.

If you have questions about the current requirements, please contact your Enforcement Branch Liaison or reference the DPR Fumigant Resource website.

Original Signature by:
Nan Gorder, Ph.D.
Chief, Enforcement Branch


cc:       Mr. Tom Babb, DPR Agricultural Commissioner Liaison
            Enforcement Branch Liaisons

1001 I Street  ·   P.O. Box 4015  ·  Sacramento, California 95812-4015  ·
A Department of the California Environmental Protection Agency