For Immediate Release - April 23, 2010

AG Coakley Supports EPA's Proposal to Require the Disclosure of So Called "Inert" Ingredients on Pesticide Labels

BOSTON - Attorney General Martha Coakley is supporting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposal to require manufacturers to identify all hazardous ingredients, whether "active" or "inert," on pesticide labels. AG Coakley's Office joined with six other attorneys general in comments submitted today supporting the proposal. The EPA issued its proposal in the form of an "Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" (ANPR) last summer in response to a 2006 request by the attorneys general.

"It's important that consumers understand what potentially hazardous materials are in the products they use so that they can make informed decisions about purchases. The EPA's recent proposal is a significant step toward this goal," AG Coakley said. "The comments we join today strongly support EPA's effort, and are part of our continuing commitment to ensure that consumers are not led to believe that pesticides are risk-free to consumers."

Last fall, the EPA announced it would be seeking broad public input in amending its regulations governing the labeling of pesticides to ensure that consumers are aware of all of the potentially hazardous chemicals in pesticides, including so called "inert" ingredients that currently do not have to appear on pesticide labels. The EPA is considering regulatory action as well as pursuing voluntary initiatives to achieve broader disclosure.

Currently, the EPA requires that pesticide labels disclose only the product's "active" ingredients; that is, those toxic ingredients that are intended to kill insects, weeds or other targeted organisms. However, pesticide products also contain "inert" ingredients. Although intended to preserve or improve the effectiveness of the active ingredients in particular pesticides, these "inert" ingredients often are toxic themselves. Almost 400 chemicals used for this purpose have been found by the EPA or other federal agencies to be hazardous to human health and the environment, but the EPA does not require them to be identified on pesticide labels. Among these are "inert" ingredients known or suspected to cause cancer, central nervous system disorders, liver and kidney damage, and birth defects, as well as a variety of short term health and ecological impacts. States are pre-empted by federal law from requiring additional labeling for pesticides.

Massachusetts and the following states submitted comments today to the EPA: California, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.