The new mitigation measures are aimed at protecting the health of agricultural workers and others who live, work or spend time near fumigated fields, the release stated. Individuals exposed to these pesticides when the fumigants dissipate from the soil could experience eye or respiratory irritation, or more severe and irreversible effects, depending on the fumigant and level of exposure, the EPA release reports.
The EPA outlined the following mitigation measures:
- To help ensure safe fumigation practices, users must complete written, site-specific fumigant management plans before fumigations begin.
- Buffer zones around treated fields will reduce the chances of immediate harmful effects to bystanders from fumigant concentrations in air. Buffers can be adjusted based on the use of other good management practices that also reduce risks to bystanders.
- Posting requirements will inform bystanders and field workers about the location and timing of fumigations and associated buffer zones so people do not enter these areas.
- To ensure emergency preparedness, registrants must provide first responders with fumigant-specific safety information and training. Fumigant applicators must monitor buffer zone perimeters or provide emergency response information directly to neighbors.
- Fumigant registrants must conduct outreach programs to educate community members about fumigants, buffer zones, how to recognize early signs of fumigant exposure, and how to respond appropriately in case of an incident.
- Fumigant registrants must adopt more stringent worker protection measures, and develop training for fumigation handlers and workers to enhance their knowledge and skills and to promote product stewardship.
- All soil fumigant products will be classified as restricted-use pesticides, to ensure that only specially trained individuals can apply and oversee fumigant operations.