September 29, 2022

EPA Proposes Cancellation of Pesticide PCNB

EPA is proposing to cancel all registrations of the pesticide pentachloronitrobenzene (PCNB), a fungicide used to control plant diseases around certain field crops and at non-agricultural sites like golf courses and athletic fields. The agency’s proposal is based on “significant ecological and human health risks posed by PCNB and limited benefits from [its] current uses” as identified in draft risk assessments published by EPA last year. The human health risk assessment identified potential risks from occupational exposure to the pesticide when it is used on crops like woody ornamentals and flowering bulbs. The document describes additional concerns related to exposure to bystanders from spray drift and to users of athletic fields when PCNB is directly applied to those areas. A separate draft risk assessment discusses ecological risks to fish, amphibians, aquatic invertebrates, aquatic plants, birds, reptiles, mammals, and bees.

According to EPA, cancelling registrations of PCNB would align the United States with pesticide regulatory authorities in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the European Union. Fungicides such as azoxystrobin, pyraclostrobin, tebuconazole, and propiconazole are viable alternatives, EPA says. Crop rotation and the biopesticide Bacillus subtillus are also identified by the agency as additional alternatives to control some target pests.

EPA has opened a public comment period on its proposed decision for PCNB. Interested parties have until Nov. 22 to submit feedback to the agency.

EPA periodically reviews pesticide registrations to ensure that pesticides can perform their intended functions without “unreasonable adverse effects” on human health or the environment. More information about EPA’s PCNB decision can be found in an agency press release.