Tuesday, December 7, 2010

OSU Extention... Pesticide Applicator Training

Pesticide Applicator Training Scheduled for Next Year
By Justin Petrosino
ANR Extension Educator
OSU Extension, Darke County

That time of year is closing in quickly, not the holidays, but pesticide applicator training. All persons who will be applying restricted use pesticides are required by ODA and OEPA to maintain an applicators license. Herbicides are generally labeled restricted use because of hazards they pose to humans and the environment. These herbicides require knowledge on proper application timing, application rates, and methods of application to minimize negative impacts.
To obtain an applicators license an individual must pass a comprehensive exam covering environmental concerns, calculations of application rates, and the proper ID of pests these chemicals are meant to control. To pass the exam an individual requires training and many hours of self study.
The chemicals applicators have access to are highly regulated by the EPA through the Federal Insecticide Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. After a patent is taken out on a chemical several requirements must be met before the chemical can come to the market. First the chemical structure must be identified. A method to detect the chemical and its metabolites must be created by the company filing the patent. This method of detection must be used to trace the chemical from its application to the plant, how the chemical interacts in the plant, and the fate of the chemical and its metabolites in the environment. All chemicals are evaluated for their toxicity to humans and animals both acute (short term) and chronic (long term). Once a chemical is known, its impact on humans and the environment is known, and a way to detect it in the environment is established, it is considered for registration.  This process usually averages six to ten years.
Once a chemical is registered it is still reviewed on a regular schedule to determine if any new knowledge of its impacts on humans or the environment would require the removal of its registration. Two well known cases of removal are DDT and 2,4,5-T (known commonly as Agent Orange). More recently chemicals like methyl-bromide and Furidan have lost their registration because of impacts to the environment and human health. Some chemicals like atrazine undergo multiple risk assessments. In 2006 after a cumulative risk assessment the EPA declared that levels of atrazine and its close chemical relative simazine Americans are exposed to “…are below the level that would potentially cause health effects”. These levels are determined by finding a “No Observed Adverse Effect Level” of laboratory animals. The EPA then imposes a further reduction of this limit to ensure levels the public are exposed to are far below any level that may cause health risks. The level for most pesticides is a 10 fold decrease below the NOAEL. Following a risk assessment began in 2003 safe atrazine levels for drinking water were set at 300 fold decrease below the NOAEL for hormonal effects and another 1000 fold decrease to account for long term exposure. Even with such a strict standard the EPAs monitoring of community water systems has shown no systems exceed the 3 part per billion standard for chronic health, and very few systems nationally exceed the short term standard of 298 parts per billion. The EPA and Tyrone Hayes, a researcher who is a strong opponent of atrazine use, both agree that anyone worried about the level of atrazine in their drinking water can use a simple active charcoal filter. Although our drinking water is safe, this will further reduce atrazine levels. The EPA also maintains an environmental monitoring system to assess levels of atrazine that may pose a risk to aquatic organisms.
For those in need of a pesticide applicators license, information on the exam, study materials, and training events can be found at http://pested.osu.edu. Once a license is obtained it will expire unless an individual obtains recertification credits through training and educational events. Pesticide recertification in our area will begin on January 10, 2011, at the Western Ohio Agronomy Day in Shelby County. Darke County’s recertification will be March 1, 2011, at the Greenville VFW. For information on these events contact Roger Bender at Ohio State University Extension, Shelby County, (937) 498-7239, or Justin Petrosino at Ohio State University Extension, Darke County (937) 548-5215. Other opportunities in our area can be found at http://pested.osu.edu. Information on atrazine’s registration with the EPA and its monitoring program can be found at http://www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/reregistration/atrazine/atrazine_update.htm .

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