Potential impact on amphibians and fish due to the application of pesticides in the shoreline and wetlands of the Great Lakes

Petition: 319

Issue(s): Biological diversity, pesticides, toxic substances, and water

Petitioner(s): Nancy Moysiuk

Date Received: 13 July 2011

Status: Completed

Summary: The petitioner is concerned about the application of pesticides to control invasive plants in the shoreline and wetlands of the Great Lakes and its potential impact on amphibians and fish. The petitioner asks whether “temporary water” could also fit the definition of “sensitive aquatic habitat” under the Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s classification of water bodies. The petitioner also asks whether the Pest Control Products Act and the Fisheries Act are being contravened by applying pesticides in and around such water bodies.

Federal Departments Responsible for Reply: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Health Canada

Petition

Name of Petitioner: Nancy Moysiuk

Address of Petitioner: 16 Glenaden Avenue West, Toronto, Ontario, M8Y 2L7

Telephone: [personal information withheld at the petitioner's request]

E-mail: [ajmoysiuk@gmail.com]

I hereby submit this petition to the Auditor General of Canada under section 22 of the Auditor General Act.

Signature of Petitioner [Original signed by Nancy Moysiuk] Date July 11, 2011

Petition to enquire whether the Pest Control Products Act and the Fisheries Act are being contravened by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s classification of some water as “temporary” water, which may fit the definition of “Sensitive Aquatic Habitat” or “Fish Habitat”.

This petition is directed to the Pest Management Regulatory Agency under Health Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Background

In an effort to treat invasive plants growing in the shoreline and wetlands of the Great Lakes, some shoreline communities are planning to spray/apply Roundup Ultra 2, with polyethoxylated tallowamine (POEA) added as a formulant. (The Label for Roundup Ultra 2 is a legal instrument registered under the Pest Control Products Act.) In Canada, pesticides cannot legally be applied over water. I have been informed by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) that they have developed a rule of thumb for pesticide applicators to follow when determining whether water may have pesticides applied over it. The PMRA considers permanent and seasonal water bodies as sensitive aquatic habitat which requires protection. They do not require this protection for “temporary” water. (See Appendix A*)

Questions

1. To the PMRA and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans:

Could some water be identified as “temporary” yet fit the definition of Sensitive Aquatic Habitat1 as per the Label for Roundup Ultra 2 or Fish Habitat2 as per the Fisheries Act? If so, is the application of a pesticide and formulant over such water illegal?

A study published through the University of Pittsburgh has pointed out that, “it is temporary, shallow bodies of water – depressions only a few inches deep and 10 or 20 feet long – that produce most of the amphibians in the country. Anyone spraying pesticides…would probably not avoid such puddles because they appear to be inconsequential.”3 The research noted that,” many species breed only in temporary wetlands.” 4

2. To the PMRA and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans:

What assurance is there that water within a 15m buffer zone of a shoreline or wetland, which is deemed to be temporary, is not actually a breeding ground for amphibians and other life? If it is in close proximity to permanent water and provides a source of fish food supply, would it fit the definition of “sensitive aquatic habitat” as per the Roundup Ultra 2 Label or “fish habitat “as per the Fisheries Act? If so, would the law require it to be protected from pesticide exposure? Given the potential for life within small puddles close to a shoreline, can water be deemed as temporary if it occurs within the designated 15m buffer zone?

On June 19, 2011, I went to a wetland on the shore of Georgian Bay called Spratt’s Point, where invasive reeds are growing. I wanted to see if there was water which might fit the definition of temporary water and whether there would be any life in the water which could fit the definition of sensitive aquatic habitat as per the Roundup Ultra 2 Label or fish habitat as per the Fisheries Act. I am attaching photos of a puddle of water that was approximately 5 feet in diameter, and perhaps an inch deep, that existed within the 15 m buffer zone of the shoreline. It was dense with algae, pollen and debris and did not look very attractive. But when I stirred the water, tadpoles would swim from their hiding spots. I am including a photo illustrating the small size of this water puddle and two pictures of tadpoles in the same water body. (As well, a photo of spawning fish in adjacent permanent water, coincidentally on the same day, laying eggs close to shore)

3. To the PMRA:

Given that pesticide applicators are given discretion to spray temporary water, and that the cloudiness of the water obscured the life in it, I would like to know whether water like this puddle would have pesticides applied over/in it?

The PMRA has suggested that temporary water could occur from heavy rain and would dry up in a few days. How can a pesticide applicator know with certainty which puddles of water will dry up in a few days? In the case of Spratt’s Point, by June 26, 2011 the small puddles of the previous week were enlarged after a week of rain. By June 29, 2011 the permanent water level had risen 10 feet due to high winds and wave action, swallowing up some smaller water bodies.

4. To the PMRA and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans:

If conditions such as rain, winds and waves conspire to expand permanent or seasonal water to encompass an area sprayed shortly before, is the spraying still legal? Is the pesticide and formulant residue a deleterious substance for fish habitat?

The Label for Roundup Ultra 2 directs the user not to apply the pesticide within one hour of a predicted rainfall in order to avoid reduced results for weed control.

5. To the PMRA and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans:

Are there any stipulations of avoiding spraying within a buffer zone, before a rainstorm, to avoid the pesticide being washed into sensitive aquatic habitat as per the Roundup Ultra 2 Label or into fish habitat as per the Fisheries Act?

The Fisheries Act cautions that, “No person shall deposit or permit the deposit of a deleterious substance of any type in water frequented by fish or in any place under any conditions where the deleterious substance or any other deleterious substance that results from the deposit of the deleterious substance may enter any such water.” The formulant which is being used, polyethoxylated tallowamine or POEA, fits the definition of a deleterious substance for fish habitat. Researchers at Trent University discovered high mortality rates in frogs exposed to POEA and in tadpoles discovered growth and reproductive abnormalities, such as abnormal tails, a decrease in successful metamorphosis and an increase in intersex frogs.5 Researchers at Pittsburgh University found that exposure to POEA reduced tadpole richness by 70% by completely exterminating two species (leopard frog and gray tree frog) and nearly exterminating a third species (wood frogs). They discovered that exposure triggered a trophic cascade effect, which caused damage up the food chain from herbivores to predators. They found that Roundup with POEA caused toxicity to crayfish, and had a wide range of toxic effects to fish. 6 They also found that Roundup with POEA may weaken frogs’ immune systems, making them more susceptible to chytrid, a fungal infection which is itself causing high mortality rates in amphibians worldwide.7 The studies cited were conducted on living organisms and not cell cultures.

6. To the Department of Fisheries and Oceans:

If conditions on the Roundup Ultra 2 Label are followed, the product may be applied next to water. Polyethoxylated tallowamine appears to be the formulant of choice to be used with the pesticide. Is the Fisheries Act being contravened if Roundup Ultra 2 with polyethoxylated tallowamine is applied next to shore and leach into the annual spawning grounds at Spratt’s Point?

I was informed in correspondence from the PMRA that their approach to spray buffer zones is outlined in the publication Regulatory Proposal PRO2005-06, Agricultural Buffer Zone Strategy Proposal. This proposal states that the toxicity of a pesticide product is primarily due to the active ingredient.

7. To the PMRA and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans:

In light of the potential health risks to sensitive aquatic habitat, as per the Roundup Ultra 2 Label, from the non-active ingredient POEA (as indicated in the studies cited) would Health Canada consider regulating POEA as a separate chemical to ensure it is used safely? Should this be required to protect fish habitat as per the Fisheries Act?

Thank you for the opportunity to ask these questions,

[Original signed by Nancy Moysiuk]

Nancy Moysiuk

References

1 The Label for Roundup Ultra 2 defines Sensitive Aquatic Habitat as lakes, rivers, sloughs, ponds, prairie potholes, creeks, marshes, streams, reservoirs, and wetlands.

2 The Fisheries Act defines fish habitat as spawning grounds and nursery, rearing, food supply and migration areas on which fish depend directly or indirectly in order to carry out their life processes. It states that no person shall alter, disrupt or destroy fish habitat.

3 Hileman, Bette. “Common Herbicide Kills Tadpoles”, Chemical and Engineering News, 11/04/05, Volume 83, number 15, p.11, Web. 20/06/11. http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/83/i15/8315notw8.html

4 Relyea, Rick. “A Response to Monsanto”, University of Pittsburgh, Web. 20/06/11.
http://www.pitt.edu/~relyea/Site/Roundup.html

5 Howe, Christina. “The Acute and Chronic Toxicity of Glyphosate-Based Pesticides in Northern Leopard Frogs”, Michael Berrill’s Research/Amphibian Ecology and Pathobiology, Trent University, 14/08/02, Web. 20/06/11.
http://www.trentu.ca/biology/berrill/Research/Roundup_Poster.htm

6 Relyea, Rick. “The Impact of Insecticides and Herbicides on the Biodiversity and Productivity of Aquatic Communities”, Ecological Applications, 15(2), 2005, pp618-627, The Ecological Society of America, Web. 20/06/11.
http://www.whyy.org/91fm/ybyg/relyea2005.pdf

7 Kelly, Morgan. “Natural Resource/Last Roundup? Pitt’s Rick Relyea Studies Deadly Effects of Pesticides on Amphibians”, PittChronicle, 22/08/07, University of Pittsburgh, Web. 20/06/11.
http://www.chronicle.pitt.edu?p=660

*[attachment not posted]

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Minister's Response: Fisheries and Oceans Canada

8 November 2011

Ms. Nancy Moysiuk
16 Glenaden Avenue West
Toronto, Ontario
M8Y 2L7

Dear Ms. Moysiuk:

I am pleased to provide you with Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s response to your Environmental Petition No. 319 received on July 27, 2011, enquiring whether the Pest Control Products Act and the Fisheries Act are being contravened by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s classification of some water as “temporary” water, which may fit the definition of “Sensitive Aquatic Habitat” or “Fish Habitat.”

Enclosed you will find Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s response to your questions. I understand that my colleague the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, will be responding separately to the questions addressed to her Department.

I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your petition, and trust that you will find this information helpful.

Yours sincerely,

[Original signed by Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans]

Keith Ashfield

Attachment

c.c.: The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, P.C., M. P.
The Honourable Peter Kent, P.C., M. P.
Scott Vaughan, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development


FISHERIES AND OCEANS CANADA’S RESPONSE TO PETITION 319:
PETITION TO INQUIRE WHETHER THE PEST CONTROL PRODUCTS ACT

AND THE FISHERIES ACT ARE BEING CONTRAVENED BY THE PEST MANAGEMENT REGULATORY AGENCY’S CLASSIFICATION OF SOME WATER AS “TEMPORARY” WATER, WHICH MAY FIT THE DEFINITION OF “SENSITIVE AQUATIC HABITAT” OR “FISH HABITAT”

Questions to the (Federal Department of) Fisheries and Oceans Canada (numbered as per petition)

1. Could some water be identified as “temporary” yet fit the definition of Sensitive Aquatic Habitat1 as per the Label for Roundup Ultra 2 or Fish Habitat2 as per the Fisheries Act? If so, is the application of a pesticide and formulation over such water illegal?

Fisheries and Oceans Canada does not have a role in the designation of water as “temporary” as it applies to the application of pesticides. The Pest Management Regulatory Agency has the primary responsibility for the regulation of pest control products under the Pest Control Products Act. The Pest Management Regulatory Agency defines a “temporary water body” as an area covered with water only some of the time and where the water-holding period is not regular or seasonal.

Fish habitat is defined in section 34 of the Fisheries Act as “spawning grounds and nursery, rearing, food supply and migration areas on which fish depend directly or indirectly in order to carry out their life processes”. “Fish habitat”, as defined under section 34 of the Fisheries Act, does not differentiate between “sensitive aquatic habitat” and does not distinguish between “temporary” or “permanent” water bodies. The determination of what constitutes fish habitat under the Fisheries Act is independent of the Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s habitat and water classification scheme.

Although it is unlikely that a water body that is identified as “temporary” by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency provides fish habitat, it is possible that it could be considered fish habitat as defined by the Fisheries Act. The characteristics and circumstances of each site will determine if a temporary water body fits the definition of fish habitat under the Fisheries Act. It cannot categorically be stated that temporary waters are or are not considered fish habitat under the Fisheries Act.

The Fisheries Act does not specifically provide for the use of pest control products. The federal regulation of such products is under the Pest Control Products Act.

Under the Fisheries Act, if a substance is deleterious to fish (by its formulation and quantity), the deposit of such a substance into water frequented by fish would be subject to the prohibition under subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act and could only be authorized by way of regulations made pursuant to this Act or other Act of Parliament.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has primary responsibility for the administration and enforcement of the Fisheries Act, including responsibility for administration and enforcement of provisions with respect to the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat. However, pursuant to a Prime Ministerial Directive and Memorandum of Understanding between Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada has the responsibility for the administration and enforcement of the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act, which is to say subsection 36(3) and related provisions. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has brought your petition to the attention of Environment Canada and respectfully defers to Environment Canada to explain its policies and practices related to the interpretation and enforcement of subsection 36(3).

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment, under the authority of the Pesticides Act and Ontario Regulation 63/09, is responsible for reviewing and approving Permits to Perform Water Exterminations for the removal of nuisance aquatic plants through the use of aquatic herbicides in aquatic environments. Additional information on the Ontario Pesticides Act and Ontario Regulation 63/09 may be found at: http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/environment/en/legislation/pesticides_act/index.htm.

2. What assurance is there that water within a 15m buffer zone of a shoreline or wetland, which is deemed to be temporary, is not actually a breeding ground for amphibians and other life? If it is in close proximity to permanent water and provides a source of fish food supply, would it fit the definition of “sensitive aquatic habitat” as per the Roundup Ultra 2 Label or “fish habitat” as per the Fisheries Act? If so, would the law require it to be protected from pesticide exposure? Given the potential for life within small puddles close to a shoreline, can water be deemed as temporary if it occurs within the designated 15m buffer zone?

The question regarding whether the water in the buffer zone referenced in your question is a breeding ground for amphibians and other life, cannot be answered in the abstract as it would depend on the particular characteristics of the area in question.

Fish habitat as defined under the Fisheries Act, does not differentiate between “sensitive aquatic habitat” and “fish habitat”. Furthermore, an area’s proximity to a “permanent” water body does not necessarily determine if an area is fish habitat as defined under the Fisheries Act. An area which provides a direct source of fish food supply may be considered fish habitat under the Fisheries Act, depending on the characteristics of the site.

Under the Fisheries Act, if an area is frequented by fish, subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act would prohibit the deposit of substances that are deleterious to fish into such waters. You may want to consult Environment Canada with respect to its policies and practices related to interpretation and enforcement of subsection 36(3) and related provisions of the Act.

The Department does not have a role in the designation of water as “temporary” as it applies to the application of pesticides. The Pest Management Regulatory Agency has defined the term “temporary water body” for the purposes of pesticide application and is responsible for the application of its water classification scheme. We understand from the Pest Management Regulatory Agency that temporary water bodies are primarily defined based on the water holding period and the regularity of occurrence rather than their proximity to a permanent water body. For more information, you are respectfully directed to the Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s response to question 2 of this petition.

4. If conditions such as rain, winds and waves conspire to expand permanent or seasonal water to encompass an area sprayed shortly before, is the spraying still legal? Is the pesticide and formulate residue a deleterious substance for fish habitat?

Section 34 of the Fisheries Act, defines a deleterious substance as:

(a) any substance that, if added to any water, would degrade or alter or form part of a process of degradation or alteration of the quality of that water so that it is rendered or is likely to be rendered deleterious to fish or fish habitat or to the use by man of fish that frequent that water, or;

(b) any water that contains a substance in such quantity or concentration, or that has been so treated, processed or changed, by heat or other means, from a natural state that it would, if added to any other water, degrade or alter or form part of a process of degradation or alteration of the quality of that water so that it is rendered or is likely to be rendered deleterious to fish or fish habitat or to the use by man of fish that frequent that water, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing includes;

(c) any substance or class of substances prescribed pursuant to paragraph (2)(a);

(d) any water that contains any substance or class of substances in a quantity or concentration that is equal to or in excess of a quantity or concentration prescribed in respect of that substance or class of substances pursuant to paragraph (2)(b); and

(e) any water that has been subjected to a treatment, process or change prescribed pursuant to paragraph (2)(c).

A substance is considered deleterious under the Fisheries Act, if it meets this definition or if the Governor in Council deems it as such by way of a regulation. Pursuant to the aforementioned Memorandum of Understanding, Environment Canada has the lead in the development of such regulations.

5. Are there any stipulations of avoiding spraying within a buffer zone, before a rainstorm, to avoid the pesticide being washed into sensitive aquatic habitat as per the Roundup Ultra 2 Label or into fish habitat as per the Fisheries Act?

The Fisheries Act does not provide for the use of pest control products. The use of these products is currently managed in accordance with the Pest Control Products Act. Under the Fisheries Act, if a substance is a deleterious substance, the deposit of such a substance into water frequented by fish could be subject to the prohibition under subsection 36(3) of the Act and could only be authorized by way of regulations made pursuant to the Act.

6. If conditions on the Roundup Ultra 2 Label are followed, the product may be applied next to water, Polyethoxylated tallowamine appears to be the formulant of choice to be used with the pesticide. Is the Fisheries Act being contravened if Roundup Ultra 2 with polyethoxylated tallowamine is applied next to shore and leach into the annual spawning grounds at Spratt’s Point?

As previously stated, pursuant to a Prime Ministerial Directive and Memorandum of Understanding between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment Canada, Environment Canada has the responsibility for the administration and enforcement of the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act, which is to say subsection 36(3) and related provisions of the Act with respect to the deposit of deleterious substances into water frequented by fish.

The authority to determine whether this subsection of the Fisheries Act is contravened would be under the mandate of Environment Canada, pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding.

7. In light of the potential health risks to sensitive aquatic habitat, as per the Roundup Ultra 2 Label, from the non-active ingredient POEA (as indicated in the studies cited) would Health Canada consider regulating POEA as a separate chemical to ensure it is used safely? Should this be required to protect fish habitat as per the Fisheries Act?

In response to the first part of your question, the Department respectfully directs the petitioner to the Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s response.

In response to the second part of your question relating to the Fisheries Act, the main habitat protection provision of the Fisheries Act is section 35. Section 35 of the Fisheries Act generally prohibits any work or undertaking that results in the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat, unless the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction has been authorized by the Minister pursuant to subsection 35(2) of the Act, or under regulations made by the Governor in Council under the Fisheries Act.

While section 35 generally relates to physical alterations to fish habitat, the Department collaborates with the Pest Management Regulatory Agency to ensure that its risk assessment process accounts for impacts on fish habitat by contributing to the scientific information relied upon by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency in its risk assessment to determine whether a pest control product may be registered for use, and under what conditions it may be used so as to minimize impact on fish and fish habitat. The Pest Management Regulatory Agency risk assessment process does consider the potential effects of a product on non-target aquatic organisms, which includes impact on fish and fish habitat.

1 Referenced in the petition as : “The Label for Roundup Ultra 2 defines Sensitive Aquatic Habitat as lakes, rivers, sloughs, ponds, prairie potholes, creeks, marshes, streams, reservoirs, and wetlands.”

2 Referenced in the petition as: “The Fisheries Act defines fish habitat as spawning grounds and nursery, rearing, food supply and migration areas on which fish depend directly or indirectly in order to carry out their life processes. It states that no person shall alter, disrupt or destroy fish habitat.”

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Minister's Response: Health Canada

15 November 2011

Ms. Nancy Moysiuk
16 Glenaden Avenue West
Toronto, Ontario M8Y 2L7

Dear Ms. Moysiuk:

This is in response to your environmental petition no. 319 of July 11, 2011, addressed to Mr. Scott Vaughan, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development of Canada (CESD).

In your petition you raised concerns about the use of pesticides over water and the classification of “temporary” water.

I am pleased to provide you with the enclosed Health Canada response to your petition. I understand that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada will be responding separately to questions that come under the purview of his department.

I appreciate your interest in this important matter.

Sincerely,

[Original signed by Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health]

Leona Aglukkaq

Enclosure

c.c. The Honourable Keith Ashfield, P.C., M.P.
Mr. Scott Vaughan, CESD


Response of the Federal Departments and Agencies to
Environmental Petition 319 Filed by Nancy Moysiuk under the Auditor General Act
Received June 13, 2011

Concerns regarding the use of pesticides near temporary bodies of water

November 15, 2011

Minister of Health

Background statement:

Pesticides, such as glyphosate, are stringently regulated substances. Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has legal obligations under the Pest Control Products Act to prevent unacceptable risks to people and the environment from the use of these substances.

Health Canada considers the health and environmental safety standards of a pesticide before permitting any product to be approved for use.

Question 1. To the PMRA and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans:
Could some water be identified as “temporary” yet fit the definition of Sensitive Aquatic Habitat as per the Label for Roundup Ultra 2 for Fish Habitat as per the Fisheries Act: If so, is the application of pesticide and formulant over such water illegal?

PMRA response:

The PMRA generally considers sensitive aquatic habitats to be permanent or seasonal water bodies. Seasonal water bodies are those which occur on more or less an annual basis and only at certain times of the year. These water bodies may subsequently dry up.

Temporary water bodies are defined as areas covered with water for a short duration and the water-holding period is not regular or seasonal, and as such are unlikely to be suitable habitat for sustaining populations of aquatic organisms. These can be areas resulting from flooding of or drainage to low lying areas, e.g., areas within fields where water may pool for short periods after rainfalls, such as in furrows, tire tracks, low areas, etc. They are expected to dry up over a short period of time. Temporary water bodies are generally not considered sensitive aquatic habitats by the PMRA.

The water bodies listed in the spray drift mitigation statement on the label for Roundup Ultra 2 Liquid Herbicide, (e.g., lakes, rivers, sloughs, ponds, prairie potholes, creeks, marshes, streams, reservoirs and wetlands) are considered permanent and seasonal water bodies which contain water for an extended period of time, unlike temporary water bodies.

Question 2. To the PMRA and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans:
What assurance is there that water within a 15m buffer zone of a shoreline or wetland, which is deemed to be temporary, is not actually a breeding ground for amphibians and other life? If it is in close proximity to permanent water and provides a source of fish food supply, would it fit the definition of “sensitive aquatic habitat” as per the Roundup Ultra 2 Label or “fish habitat” as per the Fisheries Act? If so, would the law require it to be protected from pesticide exposure? Given the potential for life within small puddles close to a shoreline, can water be deemed as temporary if it occurs within the designated 15m buffer zone?

PMRA response:

Spray buffer zones are not de facto exclusion zones surrounding water bodies adjacent to application areas. Spray buffer zones are a risk mitigation measure to manage offsite movement of pesticides during sprayed applications. They are used when a sensitive aquatic habitat is downwind of the areas being sprayed. Thus, spray buffer zones are not always required, depending on the method of application and the direction of the wind. If the sensitive habitat is upwind of the area being sprayed, a spray buffer zone is not required and pesticides can be applied up to the edge of the water body. Spray buffer zones are not required for application methods or equipment which do not result in significant drift, such as hand-held or backpack sprayer and spot treatment or wick type applicators.

The sensitive aquatic habitats listed in the spray drift mitigation statement on the label for Roundup Ultra 2 Liquid Herbicide consist of permanent and seasonal water bodies which contain water for an extended period of time unlike temporary water bodies. Temporary water bodies as defined in the response to Question 1, above, are not considered sensitive aquatic habitats by the PMRA.

Temporary water bodies are primarily defined based on the water holding period and the regularity of occurrence rather than their proximity to a permanent water body or the presence of some forms of life within them. To prevent unacceptable risks to the environment from the use of pest control products, the PMRA’s risk management decisions (which include mitigation measures) seek to protect communities and populations of organisms. Protecting permanent and seasonal water bodies serves that purpose.

Question 3. Given that pesticide applicators are given discretion to spray temporary water, and that the cloudiness of the water obscured the life in it, I would like to know whether water like this puddle would have pesticides applied over/in it?

PMRA response:

Temporary water bodies as defined in the response to Question 1, above, are not considered sensitive aquatic habitats by the PMRA. As noted above, the PMRA distinguishes between temporary and seasonal water bodies.

It is not possible to determine whether the water body is seasonal or temporary based on the picture provided. If the area in question fits the definition of a seasonal water body as described in the response to Question 1, above, then it would require protection (i.e., direct application of pesticide is not allowed unless registered for aquatic uses, and spray buffer zones may be required).

Question 4. To the PMRA and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans:
If conditions such as rain, winds and waves conspire to expand permanent or seasonal water to encompass an area sprayed shortly before, is the spraying still legal? Is the pesticide and formulant residue a deleterious substance for fish habitat?

PMRA response:

Application of pesticide products to dry land at the time of application is allowed. However, to reduce the chance of runoff into water bodies shortly after application, directions on the product labels stipulate that the product should not be applied when heavy rain is forecast for the time of application.

Temporary flooding due to wind action or rain as described above is not a typical route of exposure and therefore not directly addressed in environmental risk assessments. In general, conservative exposure scenarios are used in characterising risks, and as such would generally cover the risks from such events.

Question 5. To the PMRA and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans:
Are there any stipulations of avoiding spraying within a buffer zone, before a rainstorm, to avoid the pesticide being washed into sensitive aquatic habitat as per the Roundup Ultra 2 Label or into fish habitat as per the Fisheries Act?

PMRA response:

Applicators are not permitted to apply pesticides within a spray buffer zone when the wind is blowing towards the sensitive habitat except when using low drift equipment such as a backpack sprayer. The current label for Roundup Ultra 2 Liquid Herbicide has the statement “Do not apply if rainfall is forecast for the time of application.” to prevent wash off. This statement informs users to also help mitigate the potential for runoff into aquatic habitats.

Modern pesticide labels have a similar standard statement to help mitigate run off (“Avoid application when heavy rain is forecast.”). Wording on pesticide labels is typically updated to current standards when the pesticide undergoes re-evaluation. As such, this standard statement will be added to the appropriate section of the Roundup Ultra 2 Liquid Herbicide label once the re-evaluation of glyphosate is completed.

Question 7: To PMRA and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans:
In light of the potential health risks to sensitive aquatic habitat, as per the Roundup Ultra 2 Label, from the non-active ingredient POEA (as indicated in the studies cited) would Health Canada consider regulating POEA as a separate chemical to ensure it is used safely? Should this be required to protect fish habitat as per the Fisheries Act?

PMRA response:

Under the PCPA, the Minister of Health is mandated to protect the environment. This necessarily includes consideration of potential for effects in aquatic ecosystems resulting from use of pesticides as part of regulatory decision making.

The risk assessments and associated mitigation measures for glyphosate products have already considered the potential effects of the formulant POEA on non-target aquatic organisms. The assessment and mitigation measures included consideration of input from the DFO and the requirement to protect fish and fish habitat.

PMRA does have the authority and responsibility to manage risks associated with formulants contained in pest control products. In cases where risks are identified for formulants, appropriate risk management measures, including specific mitigation measures for environmental protection, are included on product labels.