Pesticide Laws and Regulations

Many state and federal laws and regulations pertain to the use of pesticides. The major ones in Pennsylvania and nationally are briefly described below.
Pesticide Laws and Regulations - Articles

Updated: July 2, 2018

Pesticide Laws and Regulations

Pennsylvania Laws and Regulations Regarding Pesticides

The primary statute in Pennsylvania that governs the use of pesticides is the Pennsylvania Pesticide Control Act of 1973 that is enforced by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) Bureau of Plant Industry. This Act regulates the labeling and registration, distribution, storage, transportation, use, application, and disposal of pesticides. The Act also establishes provisions for the classification of pesticides as restricted use; certification of pesticide applicators; the licensing of pesticide dealers, commercial and public pesticide businesses, and pest management consultants; the registration of pesticide application technicians; and various types of notification that must be made prior to a pesticide application. Authority is also given to PDA by the Act to assess enforcement actions for violations of these provisions.

Over the years, there have been two major amendments to the Pennsylvania Pesticide Control Act of 1973. In 1993, the CHEMSWEEP Pesticide Disposal Program was established. This program provides for the collection of old, unusable, or unwanted pesticide products at no cost. In 1995, the Pesticide Hypersensitivity Registry was implemented so that individuals who have a verified medical condition that can be exacerbated by the use of pesticides must be notified in advance of any public or commercial application within 500 feet of their primary residence. Additionally, the School IPM and School Notification Acts of 2002 was adopted to help safeguard children from pest control measures conducted on school property.

Federal Laws and Regulations Regarding Pesticides

Pesticides have been regulated by the federal government for many years, dating back with the passage of the Federal Insecticide Act of 1910. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) was passed in 1947 and is now the primary statute that governs the national registration, use, distribution, and sale of pesticides. It requires the registration of pesticides distributed or sold in the U.S. with rigorous testing standards. Manufacturers must demonstrate that the use of a pesticide will not cause unreasonable adverse effects to humans or the environment.

FIFRA has been amended several times: in 1972 the authority for administering the provisions of FIFRA was moved from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); in 1988 it was amended to require the re-registration of pesticides registered by EPA prior to 1984; and in 1996, due to the passage of the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) of 1996 by Congress, a new set of safety standards for food were established. The FQPA amended FIFRA changing how EPA established tolerances for food and required EPA to consider the risks of aggregate exposures from multiple sources along with cumulative exposures from pesticides with common modes of action.

Other Laws, Regulations, and Rules Regarding Pesticides

In 2017, EPA finalized revisions to the Certification of Pesticide Applicators Rule. Stronger standards were enacted for those individuals applying restricted use pesticides in order to reduce their job-related risks and to help protect families, communities, and the environment from pesticide exposures.

The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) was passed by EPA in 1992, to reduce the risks of pesticide poisoning or injury to workers and handlers due to exposures when using pesticides in the production of agricultural plants on farms, nurseries, greenhouses, and forests. In 2015, WPS was amended with additional standards to protect agricultural workers and handlers and their families.

In 2006, the Pesticide Container and Containment Rule was published by EPA. This Rule set standards for pesticide containers and repackaging as well as label instructions to ensure the safe use, reuse, disposal, and adequate cleaning of containers. In addition, standards for containment structures for bulk storage facilities, excluding farmers, and pesticide refilling establishments were also mandated under certain situations in order to protect the environment.

Another important pesticide-related act is the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), which was first passed in 1937 with many amendments since then. This Act oversees the safety of food including the establishment of pesticide tolerances for food and feed products. It is administered by both the EPA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).