State pesticide regulators are concerned that a potential expansion of the EPA's Design for the Environment program to include all pesticide products will create confusion among consumers and that potential abuses of the program will go unenforced. The DfE Antimicrobial Pesticide Pilot Project allows manufacturers to include a DfE logo on certain disinfectants and sanitizers that meet the DfE’s high standards for human and environmental safety, while also demonstrating efficacy to EPA’s Office of Pesticide Products.

According to ISSA reporting, state regulators said that products featuring this logo might entice consumers to purchase them, even though they might be less effective than products without the logo. They also worry the EPA isn't prepared to conduct enforcement measures against manufacturers that feature the logo on their products despite not having received approval to do so.

In 2009, EPA rolled out a DfE pilot program for only antimicrobial pesticides. Because of the program's high standards, manufacturers seeking to use the DfE logo on disinfectants or sanitizers can use only five active ingredients in their products: hydrogen peroxide, lactic acid, citric acid, ethanol and isopropanol.  Because of the limited number of active ingredients available for use, the EPA has approved the DfE logo on only nine antimicrobial pesticides since the pilot began, far fewer than it had hoped.

Nonetheless, David Difiore, an administrator of the DfE program, assured the audience that his team considers efficacy standards, along with human and environmental safety standards, before granting a product permission to use the DfE logo. He said products that don't meet a minimum efficacy standard aren't approved under the antimicrobial pesticide pilot.

Future of DfE Pilot Uncertain.  The pilot project for antimicrobial pesticides is set to conclude in May 2015. At that point, the EPA will reexamine the merits of the program and decide its future.

However, between now and then, Congress may intervene, making the program look very different than it does now.  An EPA spending bill that was approved by a House Appropriations Subcommittee in July included a rider that would direct the agency to use a looser risk-based criteria for determining whether a product can earn the DfE logo, rather than the current hazard-based criteria.

That spending bill never made it to the floor of the House. But Congress is currently working on new versions of annual spending bills, which must pass and be signed by the president this week to avoid a government shutdown.  A Democratic aide to the House Appropriations Committee indicated that all of the riders in the July bill are currently being considered for inclusion in the new bill.

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