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March 2021 – US EPA Announces Intent to Cancel Pentachlorophenol

US EPA Announces Intent to Cancel Pentachlorophenol

On March 5, 2021, US EPA issued a announcing a proposed interim decision (PID) to cancel the registration of pentachlorophenol, also known as PENTA or PCP. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), pesticides must undergo periodic health-based re-registration at least every 15 years. US EPA performed a risk assessment on pentachlorophenol as part of the most recent re-registration. According to the US EPA, this risk assessment determined that PCP poses a human health risk to workers and recommends cancelling all uses of PCP. The announcement of the PID opens a 60-day comment period after which, pending the comments received, the cancellation of pentachlorophenol will be finalized.

PCP is a chlorinated phenol that has been used for the preservation and treatment of wood since the early 1900s. The primary use of PCP today is as a wood preservative for utility poles to protect the poles against decay, wood-destroying pests and insects, and microorganisms. The other options for preservation of utility poles have historically been creosote or chromated copper arsenate (CCA), although some additional treatments, such as dichlorooctylisothiazolinone (DCOIT), are being evaluated as potential replacements for PCP. It is estimated there are approximately 60 million PCP-treated and 20 million creosote-treated wood poles in service in the United States. Environmental Standards recently presented at a city council meeting regarding the use and environmental impacts of PCP-preserved utility poles. The council was determining whether to approve the installation of additional poles in the city and wanted more information regarding the potential environmental impacts of the PCP- and CCA-treated telephone poles.  

More information on the pesticide registration review can be found on the Federal Register.

Erin Rodgers

Principal Chemist