Magazine article FDA Consumer

As with EDB, Tolerances Change

Magazine article FDA Consumer

As with EDB, Tolerances Change

Article excerpt

There are at present some 300 pesticides for which residue tolerances have been established in foods and animal feeds. The potential combinations of pesticides and foods is almost ininfinite. It would be impossible, even with unlimited resources, to analyze continuously for all these combinations. Fortunately, such analysis is not necessary because many pesticides are not widely used, are not used in large amounts, have low toxicity, or have residues that dissipate quickly.

In 1979, FDA began evaluating pesticides for which a tolerance level has been set to be certain that the most hazardous are included in the agency's monitoring program. Crop usage, toxicity, environmental stability , dietary exposure, and market volume and production are all factors in the evaluation.

Each pesticide has been ranked from one (most) to five (least) in terms of hazard potential. Pesticides not routinely covered by FDA programs and those that EPA judged most risky are being looked at first. To date, about 130 have been evaluated and half of these found to be low risk, with only surveillance monitoring needed. Many of the pesticides awaiting evaluation are already covered by FDA's multi-residue analysis.

Among those evaluated is ethylene dibromide, or EDB.

This compound has been around since the 1920s as a gasoline additive. Some 300 million pounds of it are produced annually in the United States, and 95 percent of the production still goes for that purpose. The 5 percent for agriculture was almost all used as a soil insects, with a small amount used for post-harvest food crops.

EDB was registered as a pesticide in 1948. Tests in use at the time did not show detectable residues, so when a tolerance was needed in 1956 an existing limit for bromide compounds was applied. But in the 1970s new technology, testing now at parts per billion, found residues where none before had been detected. …

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