Public-safety advocates have long been concerned about the so-called inert ingredients of pesticides—which their manufacturers aren't required to disclose. Three years after being petitioned to require such disclosure, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has requested the public to weigh in on the matter. "Consumers deserve to know the identities of ingredients in pesticide formulations, including inert ingredients," says Steve Owens, assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, in a press release issued by the agency December 22, 2009. "Disclosing inert ingredients in pesticide products, especially those considered to be hazardous, will empower consumers and pesticide users to make more informed choices."
This 60-day period for public comment follows the EPA's response dated September 30, 2009, to two petitions presented to the agency in 2006, one by Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides and the second by attorneys general of 14 states including New York, California and Wisconsin and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The petitions designated more than 350 inert pesticide ingredients as hazardous. The petitioners asked the EPA to require that these ingredients be identified on product labels. The agency hopes that a public disclosure ruling might compel pesticide manufacturers to develop safer products. Comments may be submitted to www.regulations.gov/pesticides until February 22, 2010.