The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is registering a new active ingredient, fluensulfone, a non-fumigant nematicide that provides lower-risk chemical control of nematodes than methyl bromide and other Restricted Use soil fumigants. Under the Montreal Protocol, EPA has phased out methyl bromide because its use depletes the ozone layer.
Nematodes are difficult to control and can cause significant economic damage by reducing crop yield and quality. Fluensulfone is a nematicide for pre-plant, bare-soil application on fruiting vegetables and cucurbits – cucumbers, melons, squash, tomatoes, okra, eggplant and peppers.
Of the seven main alternatives to fluensulfone used in the last five years, six (including methyl bromide) are soil fumigants and the seventh is a carbamate. All seven are Restricted Use Pesticides, which may pose a greater risk to human health than fluensulfone.
Restricted Use Pesticides require special applicator training and certification, reporting and record-keeping and additional restrictive labeling to protect against human exposure. Soil fumigants can be labor intensive, requiring tarping and posting of fields.
With its evaluation, EPA confirms that when used in accordance with the newly approved label, fluensulfone meets the safety requirements in the law.
The EPA’s final regulatory decision document will be available in EPA docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2012-0629 at www.regulations.gov by Sept. 19, 2014.