EPA is assessing 400 pesticides for endocrine effects

1 November 2023 | Muriel Cozier

‘The EPA will communicate more transparently our endocrine findings for humans.’

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is establishing a strategic plan to assess pesticides to more effectively evaluate the potential for endocrine effects in humans.

The EPA said that it will use its existing authorities to obtain the data it needs to make decisions on whether a pesticide impacts the human oestrogen, androgen and thyroid systems, and if any protection or action is needed.

With a large number of pesticides awaiting assessments, the EPA is priortising around 400 conventional pesticide active ingredients, of which 86 have been determined to have adequate oestrogen and androgen data.

In addition, 30 pesticides have been identified through preliminary data as ‘high priority’, requiring additional data on potential endocrine effects. The EPA is seeking data or information on these chemicals as part of a public comment over the next two months. A request for further data will be made during the spring of 2024, to fill any remaining data gaps, the EPA added.

This strategic plan comes as the EPA looks to implement and update its Endocrine Disruptor Screening Programme (EDSP). First established in 1996, the EDSP is focused on evaluating how pesticides and other chemicals may impact the endocrine system.

However, progressing this initiative proved challenging, with obstacles including a lack of scientific methodology to ‘rapidly and cost effectively test thousands of chemicals for endocrine disrupting effects,’ the EPA said.

‘Starting with our highest priority chemicals, EPA will communicate more transparently our endocrine findings for humans, pulling from existing data when possible, and requesting new data when necessary to evaluate potential oestrogen, androgen, and thyroid effects,’ said Jake Li, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Pesticide Programs for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

The EPA said that at a later date it will be seeking scientific peer review on advancements and its own approach to thyroid assessments, a decision will then be taken as to whether the EPA needs to update its approach to assessments.

In the EU, the continued use of the herbicide glyphosate beyond the end of 2023 is yet to be decided as Member States did not reach a ‘qualified majority’ to adopt or reject a proposal to renew glyphosate use. Those opposed to the continued use of the substance argue that it has a detrimental impact on the environment, and human health.

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