Public Health Program Overview – Archived

boy running through sprinkler

The following information is about the IR-4 Public Health program, which was discontinued in 2017. This information is available for archival purposes only.

Public Health Pests & Public Health Pesticides

Mosquitoes, ticks, bedbugs, and sand flies are all public health pests — insects and other arthropods — that can make people and domestic animals sick. In many cases, the sickness is due to pathogenic microorganisms that are transmitted (vectored) by the pests; examples include malaria, Lyme disease, Zika virus, and dengue fever. In other cases, these pests cause disease through allergic reactions or secondary infections after scratching breaks the skin. In all cases, the nuisance of a bite from a mosquito, bedbug, or other public health pest can affect the quality of life even if pathogens are not transmitted.

Public Health Pesticides (PHP’s) together with screens, habitat management practices, biological control, and sterile insects and other mating disruption are some of the primary tools used to control public health pests. Public health pesticides include all chemicals, both natural and synthetic, that help control public health pests.

There are many types of PHP’s including:

  • Toxicants that directly kill pests
  • Repellents that drive pests away from the body
  • Insect growth regulators that impact growth and development of pests
  • Attractants that entice pests into traps and
  • Other semiochemicals products that influence pest behavior

The IR-4 Public Health Pesticides Program

Since 1963, the IR-4 Project has been the primary resource in the United States for facilitating registration of conventional pesticides and biopesticides on specialty food crops and non-food ornamental horticulture crops. IR-4 serves as an intermediary between small-market users of pesticides, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the agri-chemical industry.

Initiated in 2008, the IR-4 Public Health Pesticide Program expanded the mission of IR-4 to include the facilitation of the development and registration of new public health pesticides to protect the public from insects and other arthropods that transmit human diseases.

The PHP Program was created to help fill and maintain the toolbox of toxicants, repellents, attractants, and other chemical tools used to manage mosquitoes, ticks, sand flies, and other arthropods that transmit human or animal disease. Major partners include the US Department of Defense’s Deployed War-fighter Protection Program and the USDA-ARS.

A particular priority of the program was ensuring that deployed military personnel are protected from arthropods that carry human disease and that the chemical tools used for this purpose have been completely screened for safety and efficacy.

The IR-4 PHP’s Program also addressed:

  • Improved integration of chemical tools into broad Integrated Vector Management (IVM) strategies;
  • Support for the regulatory needs of existing PHP’s;
  • Development of standard data dossiers and other methods to improve the PHP regulatory process; and
  • Research and outreach.

Regulatory Support for New PHP’s

The IR-4 PHP Program focused on supporting new chemical tools through the regulatory review process, which ensured their safety, both in terms of human health and environmental protection. These new tools included active ingredients, new product types and newly formulated end-use products. IR-4 support included regulatory assistance and limited in-house or contracted data collection.