WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on May 1 opened a second comment period on the proposed order to revoke residue tolerances for sulfuryl fluoride (SF) on food and cancel associated uses.

The EPA announcement comes as a result of actions taken by the North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) and others working in the Sulfuryl Fluoride Agricultural Coalition (SFAC). This decision will allow the EPA to delay adoption of the proposal while the agency considers further legal options recommended by SFAC.

“The action EPA proposes will strain already precious food safety resources, with negligible benefits to public health. As acknowledged by EPA, use of sulfuryl fluoride results in a “tiny” contribution to fluoride exposure, and elimination of sulfuryl fluoride will not significantly decrease the fluoride exposure problems identified by the agency. It would be far more effective to address the major sources of fluoride exposure,” said Jim Bair, vice-president, NAMA.

In September 2011, bi-partisan congressional support for sulfuryl fluoride was evidenced by a letter signed by 13 senators to the EPA administrator in support of continuing its legal status. Support for this letter was provided by comments submitted by NAMA in July 2011 to the agency that a revocation of SF residue tolerances was not warranted and would not confer health benefits for the nation’s consumers. This message was reinforced by milling company officials during congressional and agency visits in 2011.

Sulfuryl fluoride has been the only practical effective alternative to methyl bromide, which has been nearly phased out due to environmental concerns. The proposal to revoke tolerances for sulfuryl fluoride in January 2011 came as a result of concerns about over exposure to fluoride in some sub-populations.