Inert Ingredients—EPA’s Disgrace du Jour

Written by Dr Klaus L.E. Kaiser

On October 23, 2014, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs has published a list of 72 chemicals it proposes to remove from the “Approved Pesticide Inert Ingredient List” (docket # EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0558) and comments are accepted till Nov. 21, 2014. epa logo

“We are taking action to ensure that these ingredients are not added to any pesticide products unless they have been fully vetted by EPA,” said Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.  “This is the first major step in our strategy to reduce risks from pesticides containing potentially hazardous inert ingredients.”

Inert Ingredients

So-called “inert ingredients” in pesticide formulations are materials that have no pesticidal effects of their own but enhance those of the so-called “active ingredient(s)”, the actual pesticidal materials by improving their efficacy. For example, such inert materials are used to improve the solubility of formulations and their ability to spread out on leaves and generally reduce the amount or concentration of the active ingredient needed to do the job. In layman terms, you may think of them as akin to giving your hand-soap a better way to clean your hands with less actual soap.

So, why does EPA want to remove these materials from the list of compounds sanctioned for use as inert ingredients? The short answer is: they seem to have some mental blockage. It will become obvious to you with a few examples of some compounds on this list.

Example Dioctylphthalate

Dioctylphthalate, number 18 on the list, has the Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number (CAS-RN) 117-84-0. This compound has been around for many decades and has been identified by the OECD as a high production volume compound. Its main use is/was as a plasticizer to make and keep plastic materials flexible and useful.  For that purpose and all the other uses (e.g. in cosmetics, food packaging, medical products and countless other uses), the world production of this specific compound alone is in the order of a million tons/year and for all phthalates together a multiple of that.

The number of scientific articles on the properties and effects (or lack thereof) of the two dozen or so commercially produced phthalates must number in the hundreds of thousands as well. There is not a government research institute or university where these compounds have not been extensively studied for many decades now. Still EPA has had insufficient time or information to “fully vet” that compound.

Example Ethane

Ethane, number 49 on the list with the CAS-RN 74-84-0, is a gas similar to methane and the second-largest component of natural gas.  Ethane poses no known acute or chronic toxicological risk and is not a carcinogen. It is a widely used industrial raw material for things like polyethylene and other high volume products. Oh, and ethane has been known for nearly two hundred years and studied at length as well but, still, EPA has not had time to “fully vet” it.

However, if you think that the EPA could not possibly trump the two examples of idiocy above, there is another substance on that list that will bowl you over. The piece de resistance is my third example here, namely argon.

Example Argon

If you have never heard of argon before, don’t be surprised. It is a gas that is present in the earth’s atmosphere at close to 1%; for comparison, the atmosphere also contains 21% oxygen.  Argon, number 48 on the list, CAS-RN 7440-37-1, is one of the five common “noble gases” (the others being helium, neon, xenon, and krypton) in the atmosphere. The term “noble gases” was given to these elements to describe their inability to form chemicals of any sort with anything else. They are simply so unreactive that they are physically and chemically stable even under extreme conditions.

For that reason, of course, argon also could not possibly exert any biological effect in organisms of any kind. It would be difficult to think of any “chemical” more benign than argon. As there are no minerals or ores that could be mined for argon, it has to be extracted from the air by using liquefaction at a very low temperature. Of course, after use, for example in a pressure cylinder, the argon will happily return into the air, completely unaltered.

Does EPA deserve Your Confidence?

One sure has to wonder! The examples shown above do not foster any confidence in me, rather the opposite. In my opinion the examples above from this list demonstrate an utter lack of knowledge and understanding of their chemistry.

The news release coming with EPA’s proposal also states that “EPA is taking this action in response to petitions by the Center for Environmental Health, Beyond Pesticides, Physicians for Social Responsibility and others” and “the 72 chemicals are not currently being used as inert ingredients in any pesticide product.”

It seems that EPA simply rubber-stamped some NGO’s “wish list” without giving it any further thought. Why else would they even want to entertain banning the use of a substance like argon, if there is no evidence whatsoever of it being even a potential problem and if it could safely be used as an inert ingredient or propellant?

I think this list is a disgrace for EPA and the country.

Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser  BioDr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser Most recent columns

Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser is author of CONVENIENT MYTHS, the green revolution – perceptions, politics, and facts


Dr. Kaiser can be reached

Comments (4)

  • Avatar



    “Physicist 2014-11-01 00:21
    The process described in statements of the Second Law of Thermodynamics”

    The Second Law is not a Law. It is the solution to homogeneous direction independent random velocity. (See Modified Feynman Ratchet)

    Near surface greenhouse effect is a Second Law violation.

    Photon goes up, becomes thermalized, energy is conducted back down.

  • Avatar



    The process described in statements of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (namely that entropy increases to a maximum wherein the state of thermodynamic equilibrium is attained) is precisely what forms the density gradient. I’m sure Tim Folkerts and other alarmists would agree that there is indeed a density gradient in a planet’s troposphere. The density gradient remains stable for one reason only: the molecules at the base have more mean KE and greater density.

    If you rotated a horizontal sealed insulated cylinder of gas to a vertical position, the density gradient forms and at the same time the molecules at the bottom end up with more mean KE simply because more molecules have fallen than have risen, and that’s what also forms the density gradient. A pressure gradient is merely a corollary because pressure is proportional to the product of temperature and density.

    I am posting this comment on four or five other popular climate blogs because I’m sick and tired of the false physics promulgated by this Tim Folkerts alarmist, despite the numerous times I have demonstrated the error in his thermodynamics. He, like many others, should be held to account in a court of law, and some time next year, with funds from companies pooled for class action here in Australia, I hope to organise such and make the criminals who mislead the world pay for their actions. Yes I’m angry because of the waste of money and huge loss of life involved resulting from the biggest hoax in the history of the world.

  • Avatar



    Just an aside, but sometimes the argon you mentioned is used between double glazed window panes because its lack of radiating makes for the best insulation, better than the dry air normally used. Does that cause you to think about water vapour, the main GHG, supposedly improving insulation in the troposphere? Well it doesn’t – it helps radiated energy leap frog the slower moving transfers by convection, and subsequently get to space.

  • Avatar



    However you look at it, the impact of 0.04% of carbon dioxide being doubled to 0.08% is infinitesimal, probably being less than ±0.1 degree and maybe less than ±0.01 degree of warming or cooling. You can put your own figures into this calculation:

    Start with the real world and assume there is 2% water vapour and 0.04% carbon dioxide. Assume the radiating altitude is 4.5Km and temperature gradient 7C/Km. Imagine replacing the 98% of other air molecules with CO2. The troposphere is a mean of 11Km high. It is unlikely that the radiating altitude would rise above 7Km. So multiplying the CO2 concentration by about 2,500 raises the radiating altitude 2.5Km. So just doubling it raises that altitude a mere 1 metre. Applying the temperature gradient, that 1 metre represents 0.007 degree of warming. But there is a cooling effect because carbon dioxide absorbs some incident solar radiation in which the 2.1 micron photons have about 5 times the energy of the 10 micron ones coming up from the surface. There is also a cooling effect due to the gradient being reduced by inter-molecular radiation. And there is a cooling effect due to greater expanse of vegetation which, in general has higher emissivity than soil and rock.

Comments are closed