The removal is a result of complaints lodged by consumer action groups but does not address the request to mandate that pesticide manufacturers disclose 371 inert ingredients on their pesticides labels.
The definition of an inert ingredient is a substance that is “not active,” or specifically targeted to kill a pest. According to a 2000 report produced by the New York State Attorney General, “The Secret Ingredients in Pesticides: Reducing the Risk”, 72 percent of pesticide products available to consumers contain over 95 percent inert ingredients and fewer than 10 percent of pesticide products list any inert ingredients on their labels. The report also found that more than 200 chemicals used as inert ingredients are hazardous pollutants in federal environmental statutes governing air and water quality, and, from 1995 list of inert ingredients, 394 chemicals were listed as active ingredients in other pesticide products. For example, naphthalene is an inert ingredient in some products and listed as an active ingredient in others.
The inert ingredient may be even more hazardous than the disclosed active ingredient. One of the most hazardous ingredients in the commonly used herbicide Roundup, POEA, is a surfactant, which is classified as an inert and therefore not listed on the label. Researchers have found that POEA can kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells.
The EPA has opened a public commentary period on the proposal to remove 72 inert ingredients. The docket can be accessed here: