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Press Release: Revised OP Cumulative Risk Assessment

Information provided for informational purposes only

Note: This information is provided for reference purposes only. Although the information provided here was accurate and current when first created, it is now outdated.

The Environmental Protection Agency is releasing a revised assessment of the cumulative risks of organophosphate pesticides, and is making the document available for public comment and scientific peer review of the methodologies used in its development. With this groundbreaking work, EPA is nearing completion of a process to evaluate over a thousand organophosphate pesticide food tolerances (legal residue limits), virtually all of which are expected to meet the highest, most rigorous safety standards.

"Preliminary results from this scientific assessment provide good news for American consumers," said Stephen L. Johnson, EPA's Assistant Administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances. "After years of effort to develop the scientific methodologies to conduct this sort of sophisticated risk assessment, the conclusions strongly support a high level of confidence in the safety of the food supply," he continued.

Today's announcement is another major milestone representing years of scientific work, numerous scientific and public meetings, and a thorough regulatory process to ensure these pesticide tolerances meet the tough food safety standard called for in the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996. In the last several years, EPA has taken a variety of regulatory actions on the organophosphates pesticides, ranging from lowering application rates to complete cancellation of specific uses. These actions have substantially reduced the risks, and have contributed to the high level of safety found in the cumulative risk assessment. The revised assessment underscores EPA's continued confidence in the overall safety of the nation's food supply and the benefits of eating a varied diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

The cumulative risk assessment methodologies, developed since 1996 with extensive expert scientific peer-review and public involvement, represents a significant advance in EPA's ability to assess risks stemming from potential exposure to pesticides. The Agency is still working to evaluate certain food and residential uses of individual organophosphates where additional risk mitigation will likely be necessary. In the next several weeks, EPA will continue the scientific and regulatory work to evaluate and address these potential risks. In addition, the cumulative exposure assessment shows that drinking water is not a significant contributor to overall risk.

In this risk assessment, EPA has evaluated potential exposures to 30 organophosphates, taking into account food, drinking water and residential uses. EPA has employed methodologies to account for variability in potential exposures based on age, seasonal and geographic factors. The assessment relied on a large variety of data sources, such as monitoring data that measure pesticide residues found in food, in order to obtain the most realistic estimates of actual exposure to the population from organophosphate pesticides. The assessment includes consideration of the FQPA safety factor for protecting sensitive populations, including infants and children. In addition, issuance of this document meets our legal obligations under the Natural Resources Defense Council consent decree for issuing a revised cumulative risk assessment for the organophosphate pesticides.

To ensure a participatory process, EPA is continuing to solicit input from the scientific community and other interested stakeholders about the scientific methods used in the revised assessment, and the Agency will accept public comments for 30 days. EPA has scheduled a public technical briefing to explain the risk assessment methodologies on Thursday, June 18 (for more information see: www.epa.gov/pesticides/ "Upcoming Meetings"). The Agency has also scheduled a meeting of the FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel, an advisory committee of independent scientific expert peer reviewers, on June 25-28. More information on this meeting is available at: http://www.epa.gov/scipoly/sap/. EPA will evaluate SAP comments as well as other comments or data received and will modify this assessment as appropriate. As existing analyses are revised or new information becomes available, EPA will review this assessment and make further changes as appropriate.

The Executive Summary, Questions and Answers, Summaries, as well as the detailed Scientific Chapters, will be available at: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/cumulative/rra-op/index.htm.

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