Expanding Use Restrictions to Reduce Risks of Aluminum and Magnesium Phosphide
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.
On this page you will find:
- Expanded Aluminum and Magnesium Phosphide Use Restrictions
- Expedited Implementation of Expanded Restrictions
- Aluminum and Magnesium Phosphide Uses and Regulatory Status
- Information for Consumers
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:
Use is strictly prohibited around all residential areas, including single and multi-family residential properties, nursing homes, schools (except athletic fields, where use may continue), day care facilities, and hospitals.
- The products must only be used outdoors for control of burrowing pests, and are for use only on agricultural areas, orchards, non-crop areas (such as pasture and rangeland), golf courses, athletic fields, parks and recreational areas, cemeteries, airports, rights-of-way, earthen dams, and other non-residential institutional or industrial sites.
- Products must not be applied in a burrow system that is within 100 feet of a building that is or may be occupied by people or domestic animals. This buffer zone for treatment around non-residential buildings that could be occupied by people or animals has been increased from 15 feet to 100 feet.
- When this product is used in athletic fields or parks, the applicator must post a sign at entrances to the treated site containing the signal word DANGER/PELIGRO, skull and crossbones, the words: DO NOT ENTER/NO ENTRE, FIELD NOT FOR USE, the name and EPA registration number of the fumigant, and a 24-hour emergency response number. Signs may be removed 2 days after the final treatment.
- When this product is used out-of-doors in a site frequented by people, other than an athletic field or park, the applicator shall post a sign at the application site containing the signal word DANGER/PELIGRO, skull and crossbones, the name and EPA registration number of the fumigant, and a 24-hour emergency response number. Signs may be removed 2 days after the final treatment.
- Fumigant Management Plans must be written before all applications of phosphine products, including all burrowing pest fumigations. A Fumigant Management Plan is a written description of the steps designed to plan for a safe, legal and effective fumigation. The certified applicator and owner of the property to be fumigated must characterize the area to be treated and include all safety requirements in the plan before application.
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:
- EPA will work with all registrants to apply label changes to all aluminum and magnesium phosphide products.
- EPA is expediting the approval of new product labels.
- Degesch America, the technical registrant, will begin affixing the new labels to its products within 30 days.
- Of its existing stock, 80% will be used for other registered uses and will not be used for residential burrow control.
- The remaining 20% of existing stocks are with the distribution centers. Degesch America will be supplying these locations with a one-page label alert that informs the certified applicators of the changes.
- Degesch America will provide the new labeling to its applicators by May 1, 2010.
- The National Pest Management Association, whose membership performs approximately 90% of these applications, will send the same label alert to all members.
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.
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:
- Pesticides: Controlling Pests. Find out how to control pests safely.
- Citizen's Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety (53 pp, 4.18 MB, About PDF). See especially the discussion on Choosing a Pest Control Company.
- National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), includes a great deal of information about pesticides and safe use, and provides links to other valuable resources. For assistance, call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378.