EPA Enacts ESA Limits on Malathion

EPA Sets First Endangered Species Act National Limits on Pesticide

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
Connect with Todd:
EPA announced on Wednesday national restrictions on the use of the insecticide, malathion. (DTN/Progressive Farmer file photo)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- The EPA has announced national restrictions on the widely used pesticide malathion as part of an ongoing Endangered Species Act review of agricultural chemicals, after the agency received a final biological opinion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Back in July 2022, the EPA received a final biological opinion from the National Marine Fisheries Service on a number of chemicals, including malathion.

Malathion is used largely to control mosquitoes, as well as aphids and other crop pests.

EPA announced a number of actions on malathion in a news release on Wednesday.

UFWS's draft biological opinion for malathion identified 78 listed species that could be jeopardized by how malathion was used before the consultation process.

The final opinion specifies "agreed-upon mitigation measures including no spray zones, reductions in application rates and number of applications, and other changes to the labels that, once implemented, avoid jeopardy and adverse modification of critical habitat," the agency said on Wednesday.

The agency said registrants involved in the consultation "agreed to implement these measures by modifying their product labels." The new labels now contain directions on how to apply the pesticide.

"Additionally, mitigation measures that are only applicable near a species' habitat are available on EPA's Bulletins Live! Two website, an online system that describes geographically specific pesticide use limitations to protect listed species and their designated critical habitats," EPA said.

"FWS determined that the new mitigation measures, once implemented, will adequately reduce the potential effects of malathion products on listed species. These measures will not only protect listed species but also reduce exposure and ecological effects more broadly wherever malathion is used."

The EPA completed consultations with National Marine Fisheries Service, FWS and the malathion registrants, along with input from USDA.

The services issued "no jeopardy" biological opinion that was finalized on Feb. 28, 2022, and June 30, 2022, respectively.

"The services came to a 'no jeopardy' determination based on mitigation measures that were identified during the consultation process," EPA said.

The registration review process for malathion is ongoing, according to EPA, with possible additional actions on the chemical expected to be completed by the end of this year.

EPA completed an evaluation of the following chemicals: chlorpyrifos (2018), diazinon (2018), malathion (2018), carbaryl (2021), methomyl (2021), glyphosate (2021), atrazine (2021), simazine (2021), imidacloprid (2022), thiamethoxam (2022), clothianidin (2022) and sulfoxaflor (2023).

Originally approved by the federal government in 1956, malathion is an organophosphate insecticide commonly used to control foliage and soil insect pests. It is used in the production of food and feed crops to control many types of insects such as aphids, leafhoppers and Japanese beetles.

Malathion-containing pesticides also are used in programs to control mosquito-borne illnesses.

For bulletins on malathion and other chemicals: https://www.epa.gov/…

Read more biological opinions available for public comment here: https://www.epa.gov/…

Read more on DTN:

"Group Sues USFWS on Pesticides," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

"EPA Requires ESA Labels on Insecticides," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, @DTNeeley

Todd Neeley

Todd Neeley
Connect with Todd: