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Endangered Species Effects Determinations

What is an Effects Determination?

An effects determination is EPA’s conclusion regarding the potential effects a pesticide may have to a listed species, after a thorough ecological risk assessment is conducted. An effects determination may conclude that the pesticide’s use will have "no effect" on a listed species, "may affect but is not likely to adversely affect" a listed species, or is "likely to adversely affect" a listed species. There are approximately 600 active ingredients used in over 19,000 pesticide products on the market today. Each product may be licensed for one or many different uses. Each of these uses must be assessed to determine whether it may harm any of the over 1,200 species listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or National Marine Fisheries Service (together called the Services) as Threatened or Endangered (called "listed species").

Primary Priority-Setting Approach

The magnitude of EPA’s responsibility to review each pesticide use’s potential effects to each listed species has prompted us to explore priority-setting approaches that will be both efficient and effective. In 1996, Congress passed the Food Quality Protection Act, which directed EPA to develop and implement a program to review each pesticide licensed for use in the United States every 15 years. This process, called registration review, began in 2008. To take advantage of the scientific assessments that will be conducted during registration review, EPA will incorporate listed species assessments and effects determinations into that process. As registration review proceeds, effects determinations will be included in the public information related to each pesticide on EPA’s Web site under registration review. Further, potential effects to listed species may be assessed for a new pesticide active ingredient during review of data and information to make an initial decision about whether the pesticide will be permitted to be used in the United States.

Special Circumstances Influencing Priorities

While registration and registration review will be the primary programs through which EPA carries out its Endangered Species Act responsibilities and therefore sets its priorities for review of pesticide effects on listed species, there may be special circumstances that lead EPA to assess potential effects and make effects determinations, outside those ongoing processes. For example, there may be situations in which information is brought to EPA’s attention that indicates a listed species may be exposed to a particular pesticide in a manner resulting in unacceptable risk; or EPA may assess risks to listed species on schedules ordered by a Court as a result of litigation.

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