EPA’s Fast-Track Approval Process for Pesticides Raises Health Concerns

U.S. pesticide law allows EPA to approve pesticides for use under "conditional registration" -- before scientists know whether they will harm human health or the environment. Critics say the loophole is overused and abused, allowing EPA to ignore health threats.

"Tiny particles of silver could appear soon in children’s toys and clothing, embedded inside plastics and fabrics to fight stains and odors.

No one knows how the germ-killing particles, part of a new pesticide called Nanosilva, affect human health or the environment in the long run. But regulators have proposed letting Nanosilva on the market for up to four years before the manufacturer has to submit studies on whether the particles pose certain dangers.

That’s because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has backed approving Nanosilva through conditional registration, a fast-track process that recently has drawn criticism for oversight problems. Unlike regular registration, it allows a pesticide to be sold before all required safety studies are in. In this case, manufacturer Nanosilva LLC can move ahead even though it hasn’t explored fully the potential health risks if the product were to seep out of plastic or be inhaled."

Katia Savchuk reports for the Center for Investigative Reporting January 15, 2014.