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FIFRA Section 18 Emergency Exemptions

Emergency Exemptions

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Crisis Exemptions

Section 18 of FIFRA authorizes EPA to allow States to use a pesticide for an unregistered use for a limited time if EPA determines that emergency conditions exist.

Emergency Exemptions

Most requests for emergency exemptions are made by state lead agricultural agencies, although United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and United States Department of Interior (USDI) also request exemptions. The process generally takes place as follows. Growers in particular regions identify a problem situation which registered pesticides will not alleviate. The growers contact their state lead agency (usually the state department of agriculture) and request that the agency apply to EPA for a Section 18 emergency exemption for a particular use. Requests are most often made for pesticides that have other food uses registered. The state agency evaluates the requests and submits requests to EPA for emergency exemptions they believe are warranted. The uses are requested for a limited period of time (no longer than 1 year), to address the emergency situation only. To be as responsive as possible to the states and growers, EPA attempts to make decisions on the requests within 50 days of receipt. (Flow chart of emergency exemption process.)

During this 50-day time period, EPA must perform a multi-disciplinary risk assessment of the requested use, relying largely on data that have already been reviewed for the pesticide. A dietary risk assessment, an occupational risk assessment, an ecological and environmental risk assessment, and an assessment of the emergency are conducted prior to making a decision. For the past several years, EPA has also evaluated the risk to the most sensitive sub-population (often infants and children) in its dietary risk assessments. The Agency's evaluation also includes an assessment of the progress toward registration for the use in question.

If the emergency appears valid and the risks are acceptable, EPA approves the emergency exemption request. EPA will deny an exemption request if the pesticide use may cause unreasonable adverse effects to health or the environment, or if emergency criteria are not met. As a matter of course, a state may withdraw an exemption request atany point in the process.

Under the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), enacted on August 3, 1996, EPA must establish formal tolerances (maximum allowable residue levels) to cover all pesticide residues in food, even residues resulting from emergency uses. Tolerances established for emergency exemption uses are time-limited to correspond to the use season. In establishing a tolerance, EPA must make the finding that there is "reasonable certainty that no harm" will result to human health from aggregate and cumulative exposure to the pesticide, as required by the new FQPA health-based standard. Establishment of these tolerances, with their expiration dates, are published in the Federal Register.

Crisis Exemptions

If a need is immediate, a state agency may issue a crisis exemption which allows the unregistered use for 15 days. The state notifies EPA of this action prior to issuing the crisis, and EPA performs a cursory review of the use to ensure there are no concerns. If concerns are noted, EPA confers with the state, and under extreme cases may not allow a crisis to be declared. If the state follows up the crisis with, or has already submitted, an emergency exemption request, the use may continue under the crisis until the EPA has made a decision on the request. If the state does not also submit an emergency exemption request, EPA must still establish the appropriate tolerance(s) for the crisis use. (Flow chart of crisis exemption process.)

Database Information

The EPA FIFRA Section 18 Emergency Exemption database provides information about current and recent actions under Section 18. For detailed information about the tolerances associated with a particular action, you may go to the Federal Register and look up the tolerance document according to the date it was published. This database is updated approximately every two weeks.

How to Search the Section 18 Database

The FIFRA Section 18 database includes records for all Section 18 Emergency Exemptions received by EPA. The database can be searched by commodity (site), chemical or applicant; or any combination of these three search criteria. Enter one or more letters of the site or chemical name in the appropriate box to search by site or chemical. The more letters you enter, the more selective the search. Applicants can be selected from the drop down list. Chemicals are listed by their common chemical name.

The search by site uses the “Food and Feed Vocabulary” to find a matching search term to your entry and returns a list of all crop/animal terms that correspond to the search term. If the search returns more than one crop/animal term, then you must select a term from the list which more closely matches your search term. The search automatically selects Section 18 Emergency Exemption records for crop groups and subgroups that include the selected crop term. If you are searching for records about a unique, non-food site (ex. “birds, flightless,” “residential areas”) and find no records, you may want to contact Alice Harris (,703-308-9361).

The database may also be searched by a specific date or a date range. If you enter a specific date, the search will identify all Section 18 actions from that date to the most recent update of the database. Section 18 actions are recorded in this database starting with those action received in October, 1997.

How to Interpret the Search Results

The search results display eight fields for each record for Section 18 Emergency Exemption:

Chemical The pesticide’s common chemical name.
Site The crop/animal or site for which the pesticide is approved for use under the conditions of the Section 18 Emergency Exemption.
Pest The pests the pesticide is intended to control
Applicant The state or federal agency that requested the Section 18 emergency exemption.
Received Date Date that EPA received the Section 18 Emergency Exemption.
Response Date Date that EPA responded to the applicant or the date the applicant withdrew the exemption request.
Status Action taken on the application.
Tolerance Publication The date the tolerance was published for this use in the Federal Register.
Tolerance Expiration The date the tolerance expires.

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