In January, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposal to cancel all U.S. tolerances of the postharvest fumigant sulfuryl fluoride (ProFume), which would end its use in the U.S. EPA recently lowered the acceptable maximum exposure to fluoride. Even though exposure from food is less than 3 percent of total exposure, the combined exposure from drinking water, food and toothpaste currently exceeds the maximum, with drinking water contributing the lion’s share.

A decrease in the amount of fluoride exposure from drinking water could assure ProFume’s continued use on almonds. For now, the proposal is to cancel tolerances for most food uses 90 days after the order takes effect; given the complexity of the issue, the effective date of the order is unknown. Comments on the proposal are due to EPA by April 19, 2011. The Almond Board of California (ABC) has conducted a survey of handlers to determine how widely sulfuryl fluoride is used.

If the use of ProFume is canceled, almond handlers will only have phosphine (Phostoxin and others) and, for some markets, PPO available as postharvest fumigants. ABC will continue to monitor this process.

For more information, please contact Gabriele Ludwig at (209) 343-3234.