Agency Restricts Phosphine Fumigant Use to Protect People

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is requiring new restrictions on aluminum and magnesium phosphide products to better protect people, especially children, from dangerous exposures.

The new restrictions prohibit all uses of the products around residential areas, increase buffer zones for treatment around non-residential buildings that could be occupied by people or animals, and create more protective product labeling.

"Phosphine fumigants are poisons and must be kept away from where our children live," said Steve Owens, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. "These new safeguards prohibit the use of these toxic pesticides near homes and impose restrictions to protect our families from exposure to them."

Aluminum and magnesium phosphide fumigants are used primarily to control insects in stored grain and other agricultural commodities. They also are used to control burrowing rodents in outdoor agricultural and other non-domestic areas. The fumigants are restricted to use by specially trained pesticide applicators and in only narrow circumstances.

EPA is expediting approval of the new labels to reduce the potential for accidental poisonings. The primary manufacturer is voluntarily implementing the changes. EPA will apply these changes to all aluminum and magnesium phosphide products.

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