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Methyl iodide's approval in doubt


By WES SANDER


Capital Press


As talk stirs among state lawmakers and federal regulators over methyl iodide, California Gov. Jerry Brown has said his administration could reconsider the controversial chemical's state approval.


Brown told the Ventura County Star on March 23 that his administration would take "a fresh look" at the use of methyl iodide use as a soil fumigant.


Meanwhile, the EPA is conducting a public-comment period on the chemical's federal registration. The comment period lasts through April 30.


Most states don't conduct their own investigations before following suit, instead deferring to EPA's work. Only Washington state and New York have yet to approve methyl iodide. EPA registered it in 2007.


Brown's comment came shortly after Mary-Ann Warmerdam, director of the Department of Pesticide Regulation, announced her resignation.


Warmerdam was appointed in 2004 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. She presided over the state's long review and ultimate approval of methyl iodide for commercial use.


In December, DPR registered the chemical for use in soil fumigants.


The substance, described by laboratory scientists as one of the most toxic in existence, is intended to replace methyl bromide as a viable broad-spectrum fumigant. Methyl bromide is being phased out internationally to protect atmospheric ozone.


Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers have been re-examining the chemical's registration. At a Feb. 22 Assembly hearing, members of the Health and Environmental Safety committees questioned whether the process was rushed, and whether it's possible to reverse DPR's decision.


Responding to questions at the hearing, Warmerdam told legislators that chemicals' registrations have been revoked in the past, once the substances were deemed more dangerous than originally thought.



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