The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) requires pesticide registrants to provide product-specific occupational dermal and inhalation exposure data to support the safe use of pesticide products.
Dermal exposure is defined as the amount of pesticide residue that can be deposited on the skin of the worker, while inhalation exposure is the amount of pesticide residue that can be inhaled by the worker. The amount of residue that contacts a worker’s clothing and skin, and the amount of residue which is available for inhalation are considered a function of physical rather than chemical factors. Examples of physical parameters include formulation type (e.g., liquid or granule product), method of application, and the way in which a person handles the pesticide during mixing, loading and application. The specific active ingredient in the pesticide product does not affect the amount of exposure. Therefore, the amount of exposure is “generic” since it is independent of the active ingredient.
Since exposure is generic, the most efficient means of generating exposure data is for the companies that market agricultural chemical products to pool their technical and financial resources. This was made possible with the formation of the AHETF in December, 2001.
This generic approach benefits the regulatory agencies in that a single, comprehensive database of high quality data applicable to most active ingredients can be assembled rather than relying on individual studies to evaluate scenario-specific uses of the active ingredients on the market. This approach also benefits the pesticide industry in that the needed data can be generated at a fraction of the cost of conducting product-specific studies.
The generic exposure data enable regulatory agencies and AHETF members to estimate occupational exposure and subsequently risk to agricultural workers who mix, load and apply pesticides. Furthermore, information from AHETF’s database may only be used for regulatory decisions for those members who have sponsored the research.
This proprietary exposure database will be used by USEPA, California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR), and Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) to evaluate member companies' products.
All AHETF mixer, loader and applicator studies are conducted according to established regulatory guidelines for exposure studies, the Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) standard, and the Protection of Human Subjects Rule. These studies will also meet the requirements of CDPR and PMRA.