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Huge Victory: Court Revokes EPA's Approval of Nanosilver Pesticide
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit concluded Tuesday that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unlawfully allowed a novel antimicrobial pesticide product "NSPW-L30SS" (previously "Nanosilva"), made with silver nanoparticles, for use in an unknown number of textiles and plastics.
The court voided EPA's approval, preventing the product from entering the marketplace and the environment. The opinion is the first of its kind to address EPA's responsibilities in issuing conditional registrations of new pesticides such as this one.
"The court's decision recognizes the need for EPA to ensure that any pesticide approvals are in the public interest and in so doing protect our communities and environment," Sylvia Wu, staff attorney for Center for Food Safety (CFS) and counsel in the case hailed the decision, said.
Nanotechnology is a powerful new platform technology for taking apart and reconstructing nature at the atomic and molecular level. Nanomaterials are rapidly entering the consumer marketplace, including the food industry. Particles at the nano scale—1/100,000th the width of a human hair—already can be found in items ranging from sandwich bags and cutting boards to paints and sunscreens. The same unique properties that make nanomaterials desirable to industry also raise unique health and environmental risks.
The court's opinion recognized this, noting that nanosilver may present significantly new risks to human health and the environment due to its smaller particle size. The opinion pointed out that EPA's own Scientific Advisory Panel had found that nanomaterials may enter "specific tissues, cell membranes or inside cells," and its size means it can also act as a "carrier for other toxic chemicals."
"We applaud the court for recognizing that these novel nanomaterials have different properties and can create novel risks compared to conventional materials," said Jaydee Hanson, policy director at International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA), CFS's sister organization and party to the case. "This important decision will improve regulation of pesticides and nanomaterials."
In its ruling, the court ruled that EPA had failed to show that "conditional approval" of NSPW-L30SS as a new pesticide "failed to support that [public interest] finding with substantial evidence." EPA had conditionally registered the controversial pesticide back in 2015. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, EPA can only conditionally register new active ingredients such nanosilver particles if EPA determines that the registration is "in the public interest."
In the case of NSPW-L30SS, EPA stated that the registration could "potentially" reduce the amount of silver released into the environment, if all users of conventional silver pesticide products switched to nanosilver and no new users started using nanosilver. The Ninth Circuit rejected these assumptions, holding that merely stating that a pesticide "has the 'potential' to be in the public interest" falls short of what the law requires. The court therefore revoked the conditional registration of the pesticide in whole.
CFS and ICTA have long sought greater oversight of nanomaterials, starting with a 2008 legal petition to EPA and lawsuit that led to more regulatory oversight of the new technology. Nanosilver products are the most incorporated nanomaterial in consumer products, commonly used as a powerful antimicrobial agent. CFS has identified more than 400 nanosilver products on the market today. Because there are no labeling requirements for nano-scale products, many more likely have been commercialized without going through registration. In July 2015, shortly after EPA's approval, CFS and ICTA challenged EPA's conditional registration of the antimicrobial nanosilver pesticide product. The petition for review was consolidated with a similar challenge filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
EPA's approval of NSPW-L30SS was another example of the agency's reliance on conditional registration to allow products into the market without sufficient and legally required data. In August, 2013, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report, concluding that "EPA does not have a reliable system to track key information related to conditional registrations, including whether companies have submitted additional data within required timeframes." Without this court decision, this deficiency would allow conditionally registered pesticides that have not been fully evaluated, such as NSPW-L30SS, to remain on the market for years without EPA's receipt and review of the data registration is conditioned upon.
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."