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Consumer Product Safety

Evaluation of Pesticide Incident Report 2011-2408

Background

Pest control products are only registered by Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) for use if there is reasonable certainty that no harm will result from exposure to, or use of, the product as directed on the label. Health Canada collects incident reporting data under the authority of the Pest Control Products Act. If a pesticide manufacturer receives information about an incident involving one of their products, they are required by law to submit that information to Health Canada. It is important to note that the information presented in incident reports reflects the observations and opinion of the person reporting it, and does not include any assessment by Health Canada, nor does it confirm an association between the pesticide and the effects reported.

Health Canada considers the reported information to determine if there are potential health or environmental risks associated with a pesticide and, if necessary, takes corrective action. Such action could range from minor label changes to discontinuation of the product.

Incident Report 2011-2408

A report was received by the PMRA on June 16th, 2011 by BASF Canada Inc. involving damage to trees and crops after reported drift of the herbicide product Integrity (Registration Number 29371, containing the active ingredients saflufenacil and dimethenamid-p) in tank mix with Roundup (glyphosate). The incident occurred in Munster Hamlet, Ontario.

Based on the information provided in the IR and by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (OMOE), there was damage to a significant number of plants, including trees, shrubs, ornamentals, greenhouse stock, and vegetables.

In accordance with the Pest Control Products Incident Reporting Regulations classification system, this incident was classified as Environment Minor. This incident report is available through the PMRA electronic Public Registry on the Health Canada website.

Health Canada Evaluation

The pesticide Integrity (Registration Number 29371), in tank mix with glyphosate, was applied to a corn field adjacent to a small vegetable farm during high wind conditions.  As a result the pesticide spray drifted onto the vegetable farm causing damage to planted crops, vegetables waiting to be transplanted, and trees located on the property.  Integrity contains the active ingredients saflufenacil (a contact herbicide with signs of desiccation exhibited within a few hours after application) and dimethenamid-P (a herbicide that is phytotoxic to emerging seedlings only),   Roundup contains the active ingredient glyphosate, a non-selective herbicide with effects appearing 4-20 days after treatment.  Photographs of the plant injury showed chlorosis and necrosis of plant tissue within 24 hours of application, as well as the sustained injury in the following weeks and month.  The recorded wind speeds on the day of application were between 17-44km/hr.  The Integrity label warns to avoid application when winds are gusty. 

Health Canada Conclusion

The evidence provided to the PMRA regarding the wind speed on the day of application, the visual evidence (i.e., photographs), the knowledge that Integrity and Roundup were applied to the neighboring corn field that day, and the unique mode of actions of saflufenacil, dimethenimid-P, and glyphosate results in the conclusion that it is probable that saflufenacil caused the immediate chlorosis and necrosis observed in the Willow, evergreen, and onions reported in the incident by BASF.  Similar symptoms were observed in other plant species photographed by the owners of the farm.  It is possible that dimethenamid-P resulted in plant damage in this incident.  Dimethenamid-P is specific to emerging plants and therefore, it would be difficult to determine effects specific to the active given that the emerging plants may succumb to the effects of this herbicide prior to emerging from the soil.  A few species were photographed with chlorosis to new growth consistent with glyphosate; however, the timing of this injury relative to the drift is unknown.  Therefore, it is possible that glyphosate caused this type of injury.

The PMRA has evaluated this incident and concluded that no further regulatory action is required by Health Canada at this time. The causality of this incident was assessed based on information present at the time of the review. This incident is being investigated by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment who has collected samples from the affected farm for analysis of pesticide residues.  In addition, the PMRA's Compliance and Enforcement Staff has been informed of this incident. Any additional information that may be provided to the PMRA will be taken into consideration, and may change the conclusions.

More information about the Pesticide Incident Reporting Program is available on the Health Canada Web site. Should you require further information please contact the Pesticide Incident Reporting Program.