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Expanding Use Restrictions to Reduce Risks of Aluminum and Magnesium Phosphide

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Current as of April 2010

To better protect people from dangerous exposures, EPA is expanding restrictions on aluminum and magnesium phosphide products that are used to control burrowing rodents.  Aluminum and magnesium phosphide products for the burrowing rodent use are formulated as tablets and pellets that are rapidly transformed to highly toxic phosphine gas when exposed to moisture.  Phosphine fumigants have been associated with accidental poisoning incidents, and their use is restricted to specially trained pesticide applicators.

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Expanded Aluminum and Magnesium Phosphide Use Restrictions

To increase public safety by reducing potential exposure to phosphine fumigants, EPA is expanding the restrictions and requiring clearer label directions and precautions for aluminum and magnesium phosphide products that are used in rodent burrow fumigation.  Phosphine fumigants are highly toxic pesticides that are restricted to use only by specially trained pesticide applicators.  Indoor use of such products has long been prohibited.  EPA has recently expanded and clarified the outdoor use restrictions for these products as follows: 

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Expedited Implementation of Expanded Restrictions

EPA and the primary manufacturers of aluminum and magnesium phosphide pesticide products are working together to expedite the process of amending product labels to include the expanded use restrictions and reduce the potential for accidental poisonings.  The new restrictions apply to all phosphine products for use against burrowing rodents.

EPA expects aluminum and magnesium phosphide products with updated, current labeling to be on the market starting this summer as a result of several actions:

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Aluminum and Magnesium Phosphide Uses and Regulatory Status

Aluminum and magnesium phosphide are used as fumigants to control insects and rodents.  They are primarily used for fumigation of stored raw agricultural commodities, animal feeds, processed food commodities, and nonfood commodities in sealed containers or structures.  They are also used outdoors for fumigation of burrows to control rodents and moles in non-domestic areas, agricultural areas, and non-cropland.

Aluminum and magnesium phosphide react with moisture in the atmosphere to produce phosphine gas, which is the substance that is active as a pesticide.  As pesticide products, they are formulated as tablets, pellets, impregnated materials and dusts. Aluminum and magnesium phosphide are restricted use pesticides, which may be used only by specially trained and certified pesticide applicators.

Although they have similar properties, aluminum and magnesium phosphide are not used as soil fumigants.  For further information about soil fumigants, please see the Implementation of Risk Mitigation Measures for Soil Fumigant Pesticides Web page.

EPA completed a comprehensive evaluation of aluminum and magnesium phosphide and issued a Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED) in 1998.  Labels for products containing aluminum and magnesium phosphide contain all restrictions required by the RED.  The 1998 RED and other documents are available at the Aluminum and Magnesium Phosphide chemical Web page.  EPA plans to begin registration review of aluminum and magnesium phosphide in 2013.  For further information about this program, please see Registration Review; A Periodic Look at Pesticides.

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Information for Consumers

Aluminum and magnesium phosphide are restricted use pesticides that may only be used by specially trained and certified pesticide applicators.  In making decisions about whether to use a pesticide or to hire a pest control company to control a pest problem in or around the home, consumers may be interested in the following safety information:

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