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EPA Proposes Acephate Ban

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The plan would ban all uses of acephate except on trees that do not produce fruit, nuts.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed interim decision (PID) that would eliminate nearly all uses of the pesticide acephate, retaining only its application in tree injections. This proposal follows the release of last year’s updated human health draft risk assessment (HH DRA) and drinking water assessment (DWA), which highlighted significant dietary risks from drinking water associated with acephate’s current applications. In a news release, the EPA identified further risks to workers, homeowners, and the environment that the proposed restrictions aim to address.

Acephate, an organophosphate (OP) pesticide, is utilized in various settings, including agricultural applications on crops like cotton and soybeans, and non-agricultural contexts such as forestry and residential ant mound treatments. Acephate works by inhibiting the acetylcholinesterase (AChE) enzyme in the nervous system, effectively controlling insect populations but also posing potential risks to mammals, including humans, at high exposure levels. Symptoms such as tremors, fatigue, and nausea can arise from AChE inhibition, which is considered the most critical effect for assessing human health risks linked to acephate.

The EPA proposes to continue allowing acephate for tree injections, as this application does not lead to drinking water contamination, poses no worker risks, and can be safely managed with appropriate labeling changes to protect the environment. This specific use is restricted to non-food-producing trees.

The review of acephate continues as part of the EPA’s standard registration review process. Both the revised HH DRA and DWA, released in August 2023, and the newly issued PID are now open for public comment for 60 days. During this period, commenters can suggest alternative risk mitigation strategies for EPA to consider. The Agency will review these suggestions and respond in the Interim Decision. If the EPA finds that these voluntarily proposed mitigations by the registrant adequately address the identified risks, they could expedite protective measures, bypassing the typical five-year process required for involuntary cancellations. Acephate is among 18 OP pesticides currently under review, with interim decisions expected between 2024 and 2026.

For additional details on acephate’s registration review and to submit comments on the PID and recent assessments, visit the acephate docket at, docket ID EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0915.