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Pesticide Emergency Exemptions



Section 18 Actions Database

Section 18 Team Leader,
Tawanda Maignan (maignan.tawanda@epa.gov)

Section 18 of Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) authorizes EPA to allow an unregistered use of a pesticide for a limited time if EPA determines that an emergency condition exists. The regulations governing Section 18 of FIFRA (found at Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, part 166), define the term “Emergency Condition” as an urgent, non-routine situation that requires the use of a pesticide(s).  Such uses are often referred to as “emergency exemptions,” “Section 18s,” or simply “exemptions.”

Emergency exemptions may be requested by a state or federal agency.  Most requests are made by state lead agricultural agencies.
There are four types of emergency exemptions governing Section 18's of FIFRA:   

  1. Specific
  2. Quarantine
  3. Public Health
  4. Crisis 

Requests are made for pesticides needed for pest problems that impact production of agricultural goods when there are no alternatives for controlling the pest. Requests usually involve pesticides that have other approved uses, so EPA scientists have prior understanding of the requested chemical. State or federal agency submits request to EPA for situations that appear to meet criteria to be deemed an “emergency condition.” Uses are requested for a limited period of time to address the emergency situation only.

  1. Specific or public health exemptions:  no longer than 1 year
  2. Quarantine exemptions:  no longer than 3 years.

EPA attempts to make decisions on the requests within a 50 day time frame from date of receipt, during which EPA performs a multi-disciplinary evaluation of the request, including the following:

  1. Assessment of the validity of the emergency claim and economic loss.
  2. Human dietary risk assessment.
  3. Occupational risk assessment.
  4. Ecological and environmental risk assessment.
  5. Assessment of the progress toward registration for the use for specific or public health exemption requests. 

If the emergency is determined to be valid and the risks are acceptable, EPA approves the emergency exemption request. EPA will deny an exemption request if the pesticide may not meet the Agency’s safety standards, or if emergency criteria are not met.

If the exemption program involves the treatment of agricultural goods, EPA will establish formal tolerances (maximum allowable residue levels) to cover any pesticide residues in food that may result. As required by the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 (FQPA), {link} EPA must make the finding that there is "reasonable certainty that no harm" will result to human health from aggregate and cumulative exposure to the pesticide, before establishing a tolerance. Tolerances established for emergency exemption uses are time-limited, corresponding to   the time that treated commodities might be found in channels of trade.

Types of Emergency Exemptions

1.  Specific: 

2.  Quarantine:  

3.  Public Health:  

4.  Crisis:  

Database Information

The EPA FIFRA Section 18 Emergency Exemption database provides information about current and recent actions under Section 18. For detailed information about the tolerances associated with a particular action, you may go to the Federal Register and look up the tolerance document according to the date it was published. This database is updated approximately every two weeks.

How to Search the Section 18 Database

The FIFRA Section 18 database includes records for all Section 18 Emergency Exemptions received by EPA. The database can be searched by commodity (site), chemical or applicant; or any combination of these three search criteria. Enter one or more letters of the site or chemical name in the appropriate box to search by site or chemical. The more letters you enter, the more selective the search. Applicants can be selected from the drop down list. Chemicals are listed by their common chemical name.

The search by site uses the Food and Feed Vocabulary to find a matching search term to your entry and returns a list of all crop/animal terms that correspond to the search term. If the search returns more than one crop/animal term, then you must select a term from the list which more closely matches your search term. The search automatically selects Section 18 Emergency Exemption records for crop groups and subgroups that include the selected crop term. If you are searching for records about a unique, non-food site (ex. birds, flightless, residential areas) and find no records, you may want to contact Tawanda Maignan (maignan.tawanda@epa.gov, 703-308-8050).

The database may also be searched by a specific date or a date range. If you enter a specific date, the search will identify all Section 18 actions from that date to the most recent update of the database. Section 18 actions are recorded in this database starting with those action received in October, 1997.

How to Interpret the Search Results

The search results display eight fields for each record for Section 18 Emergency Exemption:

Chemical The pesticides common chemical name.
Site The crop/animal or site for which the pesticide is approved for use under the conditions of the Section 18 Emergency Exemption.
Pest The pests the pesticide is intended to control
Applicant The state or federal agency that requested the Section 18 emergency exemption.
Received Date Date that EPA received the Section 18 Emergency Exemption.
Response Date Date that EPA responded to the applicant or the date the applicant withdrew the exemption request.
Status Action taken on the application.
Tolerance Publication The date the tolerance was published for this use in the Federal Register.
Tolerance Expiration The date the tolerance expires.

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