Maine BPC 2016 Recap

Carol Eckert, M.D.

In October 2016, Mainers mourned the loss of Carol Eckert, M.D., who died from injuries sustained in a bicycle riding accident in Windsor. Carol, a doctor, served on the Maine Board of Pesticides Control for 30 years and on various other boards of important nonprofits, including the Environmental Health Strategy Center and the Maine Labor Group on Health. She was a long-time Common Ground Country Fair volunteer as well, and her husband, Jeff Frankel, has been a MOFGA volunteer, helping us with IT challenges over the years. We miss her presence and her contributions to Maine.

Maine statute specifies the composition of the board, including requiring one member with medical expertise, which is the post Eckert held. At the December 2016 BPC meeting, Anne Gibbs, Animal and Plant Health Division director for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, said the process to fill this seat was underway.

Staff Changes

Two longtime BPC staff members moved to new posts within the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry this year. Henry Jennings, who was the director of the BPC, became the Maine State Harness Racing director. Gary Fish, previously manager of pesticides programs for the BPC, is now the state horticulturist.

Promoting Integrated Pest Management Among Homeowners
Gulf of Maine Coastal Pesticide Study
Mosquito-borne Diseases
Moth Population Trends in Maine
Pesticide Safety for Migrant Workers
Environmental Risk Assessment Committee (ERAC) Membership
Registration Renewals and Variance Requests
Correspondence
Enforcement Actions

By Jean English and Katy Green

This is our annual report covering all 2016 meetings of the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC). Complete documents relating to BPC meetings are posted at https://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/pesticides/meetings.shtml. MOFGA posts time-sensitive action alerts related to the BPC throughout the year at https://www.mofga.org/Programs/PublicPolicyInitiatives/MaineBoardofPesticidesControl/tabid/3073/Default.aspx, in our weekly Bulletin Board (https://mofga.org/Publications/BulletinBoard/tabid/2535/Default.aspx) and on our Facebook page.

The BPC, Maine’s lead agency for pesticide oversight, is attached to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. Its seven-member public board makes policy decisions.

Katy Green, MOFGA’s organic transitions coordinator, attends BPC meetings to represent MOFGA’s views. This summary is taken from BPC minutes and Green’s notes.

Promoting Integrated Pest Management Among Homeowners

The board and staff discussed ways to reduce pesticide use among homeowners – including promoting integrated pest management (IPM) and proper use of pesticides – through its website, social and other media, garden centers, municipalities and various Maine groups.

The BPC staff listed topics it thought pertinent to homeowner IPM so that the board could clarify which messages to promote. Topics included identifying pests; the threshold and to what extent they warrant control; which control measures are most effective according to reputable sources; knowing what a pesticide is and how to choose and use one safely; minimizing risks from pesticide exposure, and from mechanical control (in dealing with poison ivy, for example); and knowing the risk of not controlling the pest. The BPC directed the staff to work on these strategies and ways to measure outreach success.

When BPC Director Henry Jennings noted that information given out has to be from reputable scientific sources, such as university or governmental entities, Katy Green noted that it should not come from science paid for by chemical companies.

Gary Fish, formerly with the BPC staff and now Maine state horticulturist, said that everything on the list had already been done and that the key is to have a concerted, repeated effort. Presenting at garden centers takes a lot of staff time for little return, he said, but the GotPests website and other online and big media ventures have greater impact.

The staff took several actions, including writing “A Homeowner Guide to Managing Ticks” and sponsoring public presentations by Dr. Tom Mather (https://www.tickencounter.org/) about managing ticks and Lyme disease; creating a webpage, https://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/gotpests/lawns/, with information for homeowners; and staff and BPC members gave some talks.

Jennings said the BPC needs to help municipalities understand what pesticides are, what regulations exist and the law regarding adopting municipal ordinances. Lacking that knowledge, municipalities, he said, tend to write ordinances that prohibit such items as repellents, pool chemicals, paints and stains.

Board member John Jemison referred to a letter from Jo Ann Myers, chair of MOFGA’s Public Policy Committee, stating that the BPC is not fulfilling its statutory responsibilities regarding tracking pesticides purchased and used in Maine. Jemison asked about the origin of Myers’ citation of a 700 percent increase in pesticide use, given that the BPC does not track use and that the Maine Legislature repealed the requirement for the BPC to publish reports tracking pesticide use.

Board member Curtis Bohlen said the 700 percent number keeps appearing because it is the only number people have.

Fish explained that to estimate Maine lawn and landscape use trends, he began recording pesticide sales in 1995 using data from a few reports, including yearly dealer reports of pesticides sold into Maine. These do not tell how much was sold to an end user or how much was used. He also used restricted use pesticide dealer reports because those dealers usually sold general use pesticides as well. He used annual reports from commercial applicators to try not to double count products sold to commercial applicators. He searched all of these reports for information on products he knew homeowners used. He used this same process annually to estimate pounds of pesticide products (not of active ingredients) sold into Maine, so the trend line showing an increase is probably accurate, he said. He thought that changing attitudes about landscaping, pesticides and insect-borne diseases contributed to the upward trend.

Megan Patterson, manager of the BPC pesticide programs, said many items are exempt from reporting requirements, such as indoor household use items, all aerosols, insect repellents, pet products, disinfectants, any products with less than 3 percent active ingredient, and others. Problems with the collected data include inaccurate EPA registration numbers, data discrepancies, and trying to compare liquid and solid products. In 2000-2001 the BPC was directed to research methods to improve data, with the Legislature then asking for reports based on pounds of active ingredient. One BPC staff member dedicated all of her time for three months calculating that data and compiled a database for 500 products, while the BPC currently registers over 11,000 products. Because of this difficulty and because the Legislature had not found the information useful, it repealed the reporting requirement, said Jennings.

Patterson said that California collects pesticide sales and use data electronically using a sophisticated program, and it checks each report and frequently returns reports to companies to be fixed, resubmitted and rechecked.

Fish said the EPA compiles reports on pesticide distribution throughout the country, not specifically in Maine, but its reports are usually three years behind.

Board member Clark Granger said he was skeptical about spending staff time on data reports, but Bohlen said the information is important and asked why the staff was collecting it if it was not being used. Jennings said it has been used qualitatively for various purposes, including estimating agricultural pesticide use in Maine in order to guide groundwater surveys and estimating the amount of neonicotinoid insecticides used. Jennings added that he was unsure about what policy decisions this information would help guide.

Regarding media outreach, Paul Schlein, a member of MOFGA’s Public Policy Committee and former BPC staffer, wrote to the BPC asking about a successful, award-winning “Think Blue Maine Ducky II Ad” created to teach the public about the risks to water quality from runoff polluted with fertilizer and pesticides. Chris Turmelle of Atlantic Pest Solutions complained to the LePage administration that the ad was “anti-lawncare,” and Deven Morrill, licensed arborist with Lucas Tree Experts of Portland and public member of the BPC, also contacted Governor LePage about the ad. The LePage administration then removed the ad from the state DEP website. (See “Troubled Waters: Damage to Maine’s Lake Protection Program Under the LePage Administration,” Natural Resources Council of Maine, Sept. 2013; https://www.nrcm.org/our-maine/publications/troubled-waters/) Some BPC members had heard that the ad had aired on TV recently. Jennings said even if the board voted to run the ad and could pay for it, the administration needed to make that decision. The ad is posted on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDaakOQtCqo).

Gulf of Maine Coastal Pesticide Study

In February 2014 the Environmental Risk Advisory Committee (ERAC) was convened to examine whether current pesticide residues can affect the lobster industry in Maine. At the same time, the BPC initiated stormwater and sediment sampling.

Mary Tomlinson, pesticides registrar/water quality specialist with the BPC, reported that based on the 2014 sediment sampling results, on characteristics of juvenile lobster behavior and habitat, and on budgetary constraints, the ERAC limited sediment sampling in 2015 to 13 intertidal sites in Casco Bay. One site on the Saco River, below Biddeford, was sampled to follow up a 2014 cypermethrin detection there. No detections occurred in sediments collected from sites previously identified as juvenile lobster habitat or adjacent to lobster habitat.

Stormwater was sampled at 19 sites from Kittery to Whiting during one storm event in August 2015, and in September 2015, one stormwater sample was collected in Ellsworth. Twenty-two pesticides and fipronil degradates were detected in stormwater as follows:

Pesticides         Number of sites
and degradates     with detects

fipronil                   12
fipronil sulfone               12
fipronil desulfinyl              11
imidacloprid                   11
fipronil sulfide         8
hexazinone             7
bifenthrin             7
2,4-D                 5
MCPP                 4
imazapyr             3
MCPA             2
metolachlor             2
prometon             2
terbacil             2
bentazon             1
carbaryl             1
cis/trans-permethrin         1
diuron                 1
hydroxy atrazine         1
propiconazole             1
triclopyr             1

In one Portland site selected for a four-hour time series, 2,4-D, bifenthrin, fipronil, fipronil desulfinyl, fipronil sulfone, imidacloprid and MCPP were detected every hour; fipronil sulfide the first three hours; and imazapyr, triclopyr and cis/trans-permethrin the first two hours.

The number of pesticides detected in each community were:

14 Portland
  9 South Portland, Rockland
  8 Biddeford
  7 Kittery, Belfast
  6 Boothbay Harbor
  5 Ogunquit, Freeport, Bath, Camden
  4 Yarmouth, Brunswick
  2 Blue Hill
  2 Cherryfield, Columbia Falls
  1 Ellsworth, Jonesboro, Machias, Whiting

Bifenthrin and cis/trans-permethrin totaled were the only pesticides detected that exceeded EPA aquatic life benchmarks (ALB). Cis-permethrin and trans-permethrin concentrations were totaled for each sample to obtain the total permethrin concentration for comparsion with the ALB. Bifenthrin exceeded one ALB at seven sites and three samples at the Portland time-series site. Permethrin exceeded two ALBs in two samples at the Portland site.

Mosquito-borne Diseases

Sara Robinson of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed the incidence of mosquito-borne diseases in Maine in recent years. In 2015 the Maine CDC found two positive pools for Eastern Equine Encephalitis and for West Nile Virus, both in York County. Robinson said that Zika is more likely to be found earlier in humans than in mosquitos, so the Maine CDC would increase testing of people who travel to infected countries. The BPC approved a one-year increase in funding from $25,000 to $50,000 to the Maine CDC for monitoring mosquitoes – an increase for which MOFGA had advocated so that any decisions about using or not using insecticides to address mosquito-borne diseases would be based on meaningful data.

Moth Population Trends in Maine

Based on 2016 Maine Forest Service (MFS) surveys, browntail moth (BTM) populations are projected to surge in 2017 across a broad swath of southern Maine. Board rules regulate the use of pesticides to control BTM within 250 feet of marine waters. The MFS suggested reviewing the list of approved active ingredients.

Charlene Donahue, a forest entomologist with the MFS, said the BTM caterpillar can cause a rash and respiratory effects in humans and, in trees, branch dieback and sometimes mortality. The moth arrived in Maine in 1897 and spread rapidly. In 1920 its population collapsed, possibly due to a fungus. It remained on a few coastal islands until the 1980s, when it returned to the mainland. The population expanded in 2015, and in 2016 Donahue received multiple requests from towns to talk with residents. In 2017 the footprint of the BTM area will be similar to that of 2016, but the impact will be much more intense as populations continue to grow and toxic hairs build up in the environment.

Past efforts to control BTM and gypsy moth have included spraying, biocontrol and a federal quarantine in place until the mid-80s. In 2015 an aerial survey found about 64,000 acres of trees defoliated by BTM, as noted by their rusty, skeletonized appearance, primarily in Sagadahoc and Cumberland counties, where BTM is worst. It is spreading south and north and is in Kittery, Kennebunk, Turner and Monmouth. Donahue said BTM is impacting tree health significantly. Adult BTMs were collected in light traps as far away as Eliot, Skowhegan, Exeter and Topsfield. The pest targets hardwoods primarily, favoring oaks and apple but also attacking other hardwoods, including shrubs.

The BTM larvae forage between April and June and begin making cocoons in July. The caterpillars make small, tight webs in the fall at the tips of branches, while the native fall webworm makes large, filmy webs and does not kill trees. Deven Morrill of the BPC said affected trees look like they still have leaves at the top in January and February, and Donahue added that the white film is shiny and easy to spot.

Traditionally chemical control occurs in the spring as soon as caterpillars leave the webs, but there is some thought of trying treatments in August 2017. Some arborists are clipping webs that can be reached in winter. Donahue always advises people that they need to contract with commercial applicators for any chemical treatment.

Microscopic hairs from the caterpillars cause rashes and respiratory problems in humans, said Donahue, and chemicals in the hairs remain toxic for one to three years. Individuals need not contact caterpillars to be affected; just being in the area is enough. Cold temperatures do not kill BTM, but wet, cool spring weather when they have high population densities allows disease to spread more easily, resulting in higher rates of mortality.

Lawn mowing stirs up the hairs, as do fall and spring cleanup and turning up mulch beds. The MFS lists precautions to take when doing yard work, at https://maine.gov/dacf/mfs/forest_health/insects/browntail_moth_precautions.htm.

Donahue and Kathy Murray, Integrated Pest Management Program coordinator, created a free webinar to teach schools about BTM, and Donahue has done considerably more outreach. She noted that applicators in Sagadahoc County already have all the clients they can handle.

Lebelle Hicks, BPC pesticide toxicologist, listed new types of products available for BTM control and their methods of action and efficacy (based on applicators’ reports). She asked if the BPC rule needs to be changed to allow or not allow some newer chemistries.

Donahue noted that the area within 50 feet of the high water line is a concern because when the rule was created, the only biological was Bt, Bacillus thuringiensis. Now other biologicals are available, but the board has not evaluated their environmental fate and toxicity to crustaceans. Jennings said that rulemaking may be prudent in the long term, but the short-term priority is to list acceptable chemistries to use in the 50- to 250-foot zone and clarify the definition of biologicals for the 0- to 50-foot zone.

In December the board further discussed biological options. Ultimately the board likely will initiate rulemaking to change the language dictating what can happen within 0 to 50 feet of the high water mark. The short-term fix for 2017 was to include guidance from the board by February 2017 of products that applicators can use this year.

Pesticide Safety for Migrant Workers

The BPC approved a $3,675 grant to the Maine Migrant Health Program and Eastern Maine Development Corporation for continued support of their Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Safety Education program. In 2015, 308 individuals received Worker Protection Standard training – 11 percent more than in 2014; 308 were trained in limiting pesticide exposure to families – an increase of 22 percent; and 310 received heat stress training for the first time. Tractor training was added in 2016.

Environmental Risk Assessment Committee (ERAC) Membership

The board approved adding Kathleen Reardon, a lobster biologist with the Maine Department of Marine Resources, and Lawrence Mayer, Ph.D., from the Darling Marine Center, to the Environmental Risk Assessment Committee.

Registration Renewals and Variance Requests

The board reviewed Central Maine Power (CMP) Company’s Transmission Right-of-Way Drift Plan for 2016. The company planned to hire contract crews to treat approximately 10,000 acres with formulations of the herbicides Garlon and Milestone, treating tree stumps in some cases and using a backpack sprayer elsewhere. A no-spray zone, maintained around wells, municipal water supplies or any open water, varies in size depending on the topography, with a minimum of 25 feet from all water and of 100 feet from drinking water supplies. A landowner maintenance agreement is available to any landowner or municipality objecting to the use of herbicides. The landowner agrees to keep brush height under 10 feet, and a CMP inspector checks each area annually.

The BPC approved (but Jemison opposed) a Special Local Need request from Jasper Wyman and Son for Sandea Herbicide to control perennial broadleaf weeds in lowbush blueberry in the nonbearing year, given resistance of some weeds to the herbicide hexazinone. Sandea must be applied before blueberry growth begins; otherwise it is toxic to the blueberry plants.

The BPC unanimously approved Special Local Need requests to extend the use of Bravo ZN and Echo ZN (chlorothalonil fungicides) to control late blight in long-season potatoes and a Special Local Need request for Omega 500F Fungicide (Fluazinam) as an in-furrow, banded application on potatoes at planting to control powdery mildew scab.

The BPC staff issued variance permits to
    • Acadia National Park to treat invasive plants within 25 feet of various water bodies
    • The Woodlands Club in Falmouth for its pest management program
    • Dasco Inc. in Presque Isle to treat invasive plants within 25 feet of water at the Howland Dam Bypass Channel Project in Howland, Maine
    • Dubois Contracting of Fort Kent to broadcast herbicides (while adhering to certain precautions) along portions of the Ft. Kent levee along the St. John and Fish Rivers
    • Jeffrey M. Taylor of Vegetation Control Service, Inc., in Athol, Mass., to treat invasive plants within 25 feet of water at two sites in the town of Cumberland, Maine, while adhering to certain precautions; to treat invasive plants along public roadside rights-of-way in Falmouth; and to add the herbicide Milestone to the treatment
    • Maine Coast Heritage Trust in Topsham to treat Phragmites on the trust’s preserve on Owls Head Harbor so that the site reverts to native species
    • Rosemary Roy, North Yarmouth town manager, to treat Japanese knotweed in Old Town House Park so that the site reverts to native species

Correspondence

Carol Laboissonniere, a NOFA-certified Organic Land Care Professional, Maine Master Gardener and owner of CL Design and Landscape, which works in southern Maine, expressed concern in an email about the potential for increased pesticide use with Roundup resistant grasses (which are not on the market yet). Katy Green asked if Roundup Ready turf grass would come before the board if it did come on the market. Hicks said it would not because it does not produce a pesticidal compound.

Karen A D’Andrea, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) Maine Chapter, wrote to the BPC to endorse MOFGA’s work to reduce pesticide reliance and use in Maine. The letter cited several studies connecting pesticide use with certain diseases. It noted that over two dozen Maine municipalities ban or restrict pesticide uses.

In response to an email from Cynthia Ladderbush asking how Maine can be made more organic, BPC member Carol Eckert noted that the state Legislature, not the BPC, decides how farming is done in Maine.

The BPC received an informational email from Nancy Oden about the effects of neonicotinoid insecticides on bees and one from Jody Spear about an article entitled “‘Femme fatale’ emerald ash borer decoy lures, kills males” from Penn State University. Male emerald ash borers that land on the decoys in an attempt to mate are killed by high-voltage current (https://news.psu.edu/story/326413/2014/09/15/research/femme-fatale-emerald-ash-borer-decoy-lures-kills-males). Spear also sent an article from the Bangor Daily News entitled “Vineyard, orchard rising from old County potato farm” about using ionized water to manage fungal pests of grapes (and possibly for late blight on potatoes; https://bangordailynews.com/2016/08/08/news/aroostook/vineyard-orchard-rising-from-oldcounty-potato-farm/).

Enforcement Actions

Applicator/Company – Violation – Penalty

Jacob Boyington, Appleton Ridge Construction, Appleton – Lab-confirmed drift of malathion to residential property during application to a Palermo blueberry field – $500

Priority Real Estate Group, LLC, Topsham – Unlicensed and unauthorized application of Roundup Weed and Grass Killer herbicide to curbs and sidewalks of Providence Merrymeeting and Achieve Program School, Brunswick, while school was in session. (Neither the company nor the applicator was licensed, and the applicator did not know Roundup was a pesticide.) – $500

Joseph Lemar, Dresden – Unlicensed application of Roundup Herbicide to a blueberry field – $300

Moark, Turner – Application rate of Golden Malrin fly bait exceeded the maximum label rate, and the applicator did not wear the correct personal protective equipment required by the pesticide label. – $650

Kendall Cooper, Buckfield – Purchase of Lumax EZ Herbicide by unlicensed applicator; dealer did not ask to see a license for purchase of the restricted use pesticide. – $200

Orkin Exterminating Company Inc., Portland – An Orkin applicator applied Bifenthrin and a botanical pyrethroid insecticide to the exterior of the wrong residence. – $1,000

Sports Fields Inc., Monmouth – Did not provide IPM coordinators at more than one school with required records of applications – $350

Black Bear Lawn Care, Orono – Company with no licensed applicators made spot treatments of Roundup Weed and Grass Killer herbicide at Walgreens stores – $500

Maine Seed Co., Wales – Two sales of a total of 50 2.5-gallon jugs of Lumax EZ Herbicide (atrazine) to a grower with an expired license – $500

Alfred Fugazzi of Stone Wall Farms – Use of a pesticide (Lannate) in a careless, negligent or faulty manner; in a manner inconsistent with its label; and failing to keep records of the application. Two dogs died in Lincoln, Maine, after ingesting bread treated with the pesticide. The bread was used as bait to kill crows. – The board reviewed a case investigation summary of this event and asked the staff to pursue a consent agreement, which had not been finalized when we went to press.

Granite Bay Care, Inc., Portland – An unlicensed in-house maintenance employee purchased and applied Bed Bug Bully
(unregistered in Maine; active ingredients: soybean oil and cinnamon) inside a Granite Bay Care residential facility in Raymond, in an area open to the public. Staff at the Raymond facility also used Raid Roach Traps and Raid Spray. – $250

Plants Unlimited, Inc., Rockport – Private applicator failed to maintain sufficient application records, to provide Worker Protection Standard training for agricultural workers, to post pesticide application information at a central location, and used a pesticide in a manner inconsistent with its label directions. Bayer Advanced All-In-One Rose & Flower Care (active ingredients tebuconazole and imidacloprid), labeled for outdoor residential use only, was applied inside a commercial greenhouse on three dates. – $500

TruGreen Lawncare, Westbrook – Commercial applicator failed to notify an individual listed on the Maine Pesticide Notification Registry before conducting an outdoor, non-agricultural pesticide application of TruPower 3 Selective Herbicide and Barricade R4L herbicide within 250 feet of the property boundary of the listed residence in Cape Elizabeth. This was TruGreen’s third such violation in four years. – $2,750, and the company shall submit a written policy to the board containing procedures to ensure that persons on the Pesticide Notification Registry are given proper notice.

Jasper Wyman & Son, Milbridge – Alleged unauthorized herbicide application to blueberry land in Charlotte owned by the Damon family that Greg Bridges, owner of Cole G. Bridges Wild Blueberries LLC, subleased from Wyman & Son. (Wyman & Son neither admitted the alleged violation nor commented further because of ongoing litigation.) – $500

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