EPA to Regulate Ion Generators as Pesticides

On Sept. 21, EPA announced that machines that generate silver ions or other substances for pesticidal purposes will be regulated as pesticides. However, the agency stated that the notice is not an action to regulate nanotechnology.

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, a product that incorporates a substance or mixture of substances to prevent, destroy, repel or mitigate pests is considered a pesticide and must be registered. However, a product that uses only physical or mechanical means to trap, destroy, repel or mitigate a pest (including microbial pests), such as a mousetrap, is a device and does not need to be registered. Its production and labeling are regulated.

The notice, published on Sept. 21 in the Federal Register, is the vehicle to notify manufacturers about the new determination. Potentially affected equipment include washing machines containing electrodes that emit silver, copper or zinc ions and ion generators used in swimming pools to kill algae and as an adjunct to the chlorination process. EPA will identify the information needed for an application for registration and give those products currently out of compliance time to obtain registration.

While recent press articles have referred to the silver ion generating washing machine as a product of nanotechnology, EPA has not yet received any information that suggests that this product uses nanotechnology, agency officials said. EPA will evaluate any applications to register this type of equipment according to the same regulatory standards as other pesticides.

More information can be accessed at http://www.epa.gov/oppad001/ion_gen_equip.htm.

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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