United States: EPA publishes a participatory database on pesticide incidents

  October 18, 2023

United States, 27 July 2023 – The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently published a database listing all incidents over the past ten years in which individuals have suffered or witnessed harm to human health or the environment resulting from the use of or exposure to pesticides.

The database, which is updated every month, contains precise information on major incidents, detailing the people involved, the location of the incident, the type of damage suffered and the mode of use that caused the damage. There is also an aggregate database, which identifies less serious incidents and aggregates mass data. Searches can be based on the products used.

In line with the principle of transparency, public access to this database makes it easier to inform as many people as possible about the dangers of exposure to pesticides. Prior to this decision, obtaining information on the damage caused by pesticides was a long and costly process for the authorities: anyone wishing to obtain information had to submit a request regulated by the Freedom of Information Act. It could take several months for the government to respond.

The database is fed by a number of sources, including companies producing plant protection products and active substances, which are obliged to report any adverse effects of their products, the public, the federal authorities responsible for regulating pesticide products, the National Pesticide Information Center and the American Association of Poison Control Centers. With the help of this information, it is possible to identify trends or repetitive patterns in the harmful effects of the use of certain products that would not have been identified by the EPA at the time of their authorisation, and which could be taken into account with a view to re-examining their registration.

The EPA stresses, however, that these are raw data and have not been verified by the Agency.

We welcome this small step towards transparency, public participation and access to information. Nevertheless, the development of an agricultural model that excludes the widespread use of pesticides remains the major step forward that we want to see in order to mark a real consideration of the deleterious health and environmental effects caused by pesticides.