Assessing the risk of pesticides to honey bees: a tiered evaluation

Tuesday, November 12, 2013: 2:10 PM
Meeting Room 12 A (Austin Convention Center)
Thomas Steeger , Office of Pesticide Programs/Environmental Fate and Effects Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC
Reuben Baris , U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC
In September 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) presented a proposed framework for determining the potential risks of pesticides to bees (using honey bees, Apis mellifera, as a surrogate for Apis and non-Apis bees) to a Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP).  The framework was developed in collaboration with Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (Cal DPR), and it identified the exposure and toxicity data needed to inform the risk assessment process.  Consistent with the process currently used by EPA OPP to evaluate risk to other taxa, the process is tiered and consists of an initial screen to identify chemicals that may require more refined analysis.  The initial screen quantifies potential risks to individual bees based on laboratory effect studies and estimated or measured exposure concentrations.  For those chemicals which exceed regulatory levels of concern, higher tier studies conducted under semi-field and full field conditions are then used qualitatively to characterize potential risks to the whole colony, taking advantage of registrant-submitted and open literature studies along with any beekill incident data that may be available.  The process presented to the SAP and discussed in this presentation has been adopted by EPA and reflects input from the FIFRA SAP; this process is consistent with the process that was recently discussed in the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) scientific opinion on evaluating risks to bees and is also consistent with the process proposed by the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) global Pellston Workshop in January 2011.