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The EPA Inspector General’s Report

The task of the Inspectors General of Federal agencies is to examine "all actions of a government agency or military organization. Conducting audits and investigations, either independently or in response to reports of wrongdoing, the OIG ensures that the agency’s operations are in compliance with the law and general established policies of the government. Audits conducted by the OIG are intended to ensure the effectiveness of security procedures, or to discover the possibility of misconduct, waste, fraud, theft, or certain types of criminal activity by individuals or groups related to the agency’s operation."

At the end of 2011, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted Report No. 12-P-0162,"EPA Needs to Manage Nanomaterial Risks More Effectively" to the reports section of its website.

The OIG, in the Introduction to the report, states that the

. . .  purpose of this review was to determine how effectively the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is managing the human health and environmental risks of nanomaterials.

The report notes that

EPA has the statutory authority to regulate nanomaterials. . . . EPA can regulate nanomaterials during their manufacture, formulation, distribution in commerce, use, and/or disposal through the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) . . . nanomaterials in pesticides through the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) . . . . EPA can regulate nanomaterials released into the environment using the Clean Air Act; the Clean Water Act; the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act; or the Resource Conservation …

EPA Requests Public Comment on Obtaining Information Regarding Nanomaterials in Pesticides

On June 17, 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing that it was seeking "comment on several possible appraoches for obtaining information about what nanoscale materials are present in registered pesticide products. . .  . and its potential effects on humans or the environment. . . ."

Under one approach to collecting this information, EPA would use the authority granted to it by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide,and Rodenticide Act  (FIFRA) to require applicants to "provide any factual information of which [the applicant] is aware regarding unreasonable adverse effects of the pesticide on man and the environment". If EPA adopts this approach, it would require the inclusion of "such information with applications for registrations of pesticides or pesiticide products containing ‘nanoscale materials’".

Under a different section of FIFRA, EPA would gather information using Data Call-In notices.

EPA is required to collect information regarding pesticides under section 3(a) of FIFRA. Using the information collected, EPA can then determine

1) the validity of the products claims

2) that labelling complies with FIFRA requirements

3) that the pesticide or pesticide product will not cause unreasonably adverse harm to humans or the environment.

EPA "believes that certain information concerning pesticide ingredients" – in this case, nanoscale materials, defined by EPA as (1) between 1 and 100 nanometers, (2) " exhibit unique and novel properties compared to larger particlesof the same material" and (3) has been manufactured or engineered at the nanoscale level to take advantage of those unique or novel properties …

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