EPA Proposes Area Exclusion Zone Requirements for Pesticide Applications

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EPA has proposed new updates to the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) to improve enforceability for state regulators and reduce regulatory burden for growers with regard to area exclusion zone (AEZ) requirements. EPA worked with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture to develop the new rules to ensure they are easier to implement.

Specific proposed provisions include:

  • Modify the AEZ so it is applicable and enforceable only on a farm owner’s property, where a farm owner can lawfully exercise control over employees and bystanders who could fall within the AEZ. As currently written, the off-farm aspect of this provision has proven very difficult for state regulators to enforce. These proposed changes would enhance both enforcement and implementation of the AEZ for state regulators and farm owners respectively. Off-farm bystanders would still be protected from pesticide applications thanks to the existing “do not contact” requirement that prohibits use in a manner that would contact unprotected individuals.
  • Exempt immediate family members of farm owners from all aspects of the AEZ requirement. This will allow farm owners and their immediate family members to decide whether to stay in their homes or other enclosed structures on their property during certain pesticide applications, rather than compelling them to leave even when they feel safe remaining.
  • Add clarifying language that pesticide applications that are suspended due to individuals entering an AEZ may be resumed after those individuals have left the AEZ.
  • Simplify the criteria for deciding whether pesticide applications are subject to the 25- or 100-foot AEZ.

The proposed revisions are open for public comment until January 30, 2020.

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