Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

Registering Pesticides

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, May 31, 2016

Pesticides.jpgMost of the laws and regulations discussed in these blogs exist to ensure proper management of hazardous chemicals and products, in ways designed to minimize environmental and human exposures. Pesticide management provides important variations on these themes, since pesticides are used for the very purpose of killing targeted organisms in the environment … and are regulated to target those uses to protect humans and other non-target species. Within the United States, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) provides the national framework for regulation of pesticides, including registration of active ingredients and mixtures, licensing of applicators, and requirements for the application and use of these hazardous materials. FIFRA provides the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with overall responsibility, although different elements of pesticide regulation are subject to different balances of federal (EPA) and state control.

Pesticide Registration

FIFRA requires that each pesticide be registered by use, prior to its distribution or sale. During the registration process, EPA classifies each pesticide according to its hazards and uses.

  • Application

Each applicant must apply to EPA for registration under FIFRA (some states, notably California, operate parallel registration programs). EPA has published a series of forms (most numbered 8570-xxx, such as basic Form 8570-1 (Application for Pesticide)), although most applications presently are filed electronically. EPA’s registration process focuses on the proposed use of a particular pesticide and involves submission of an application requiring the following information:

  • Name, address, and other applicant information

  • Complete labeling information

  • Instructions for use

  • Pesticide name and complete chemical formula, including the “active ingredient(s)”

  • Use classification request (see below)

  • Complete testing data if requested by EPA

EPA may also require data or information regarding the methods for safe storage and disposal of excess quantities of the pesticide. Applicants also pay the applicable registration fee.

  • Classification

EPA generally classifies a pesticide FIFRA into one of the following three use categories:

  • General use pesticides are those EPA finds will not have “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment” (defined as any unreasonable risk to people or the environment, taking into account the economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits of the use of any pesticide) when used according to directions.

  • Restricted use pesticides are those that require additional regulatory restrictions to forestall unreasonable adverse effects, including injury to the applicator.

  • Mixed use pesticides are subject to “use” dependent classification; these pesticides may be classified for general use for certain applications and restricted use for others.

Use classifications may trigger specific federal and state requirements. EPA may also grant experimental use permits (EUPs), which allow manufacturers to field test pesticides under development on 10 acres or more of land or one acre or more of water.

EPA can grant “conditional” (or “amended”) registrations for pesticides that meet the following conditions:

  • “Substantially similar” to a currently registered pesticide

  • Contains new (previously unregistered) active ingredients

  • Is being proposed for a new use.

EPA can also grant emergency exemptions, as case-by-case responses to pest outbreaks or other public health or quarantine reasons.

  • Registration and reregistration, suspension and cancellation

EPA must grant registration if the agency determines that the pesticide product claims are warranted, the label and other materials submitted comply with law, the pesticide will function as intended without “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment,” and that routine use will not have unreasonable adverse effects. Registrations are valid for up to 15 years; reregistration procedures are available.

EPA may cancel a pesticide registration or change a pesticide classification with or without a hearing based on the impact of the pesticide on production and prices of agricultural commodities, retail food prices, and the environment. The registrant may also cancel registration (usually to avoid fees, or to obviate responsibility to submit updated scientific information). EPA may suspend the registration of a pesticide if necessary to prevent an “imminent hazard,” which are conditions when the continued use of a pesticide during the time required for a cancellation proceeding would likely result in an unreasonable adverse effect on the environment, or an unreasonable hazard to the survival of an endangered or threatened species. EPA may order a recall of a suspended or cancelled pesticide, or the manufacturer may do so voluntarily.

Self-Assessment Checklist

Does the organization manufacture or distribute pesticides?

If so, are they registered with:

  • EPA?

  • One or more states?

Does the organization use or apply pesticides?

  • For mixed or restricted use pesticides, are all personnel suitably trained, licensed and equipped?

Where Can I Go For More Information?

Specialty Technical Publishers (STP) provides a variety of single-law and multi-law services, intended to facilitate clients’ understanding of and compliance with requirements. These include:

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About the Author

jon_f_elliott.jpgJon Elliott is President of Touchstone Environmental and has been a major contributor to STP’s product range for over 25 years. He was involved in developing 12 existing products, including Environmental Compliance: A Simplified National Guide and The Complete Guide to Environmental Law.

Mr. Elliott has a diverse educational background. In addition to his Juris Doctor (University of California, Boalt Hall School of Law, 1981), he holds a Master of Public Policy (Goldman School of Public Policy [GSPP], UC Berkeley, 1980), and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (Princeton University, 1977).

Mr. Elliott is active in professional and community organizations. In addition, he is a past chairman of the Board of Directors of the GSPP Alumni Association, and past member of the Executive Committee of the State Bar of California's Environmental Law Section (including past chair of its Legislative Committee).

You may contact Mr. Elliott directly at:

photo credit: pesticide spraying via photopin (license)

Tags: Health & Safety, OSHA, EHS, EPA, Hazcom