The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing stronger standards for pesticide applicators who apply “restricted-use” pesticides.  These pesticides are not available for purchase by the general public, require special handling, and may only be applied by a certified applicator or someone working under his or her direct supervision.

“We are committed to keeping our communities safe, protecting our environment and protecting workers and their families, said Jim Jones, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “By improving training and certification, those who apply these restricted use pesticides will have better knowledge and ability to use these pesticides safely.”

The goal of the action is to reduce the likelihood of harm from the misapplication of toxic pesticides and ensure a consistent level of protection among states. Pesticide use would be safer with increased supervision and oversight.

EPA is proposing stricter standards for people certified to use restricted use pesticides and to require all people who apply restricted use pesticides to be at least 18 years old.  Certifications would have to be renewed every 3 years.

EPA is proposing additional specialized licensing for certain methods of application that can pose greater risks if not conducted properly, such as fumigation and aerial application.  For further protection, those working under the supervision of certified applicators would now need training on using pesticides safely and protecting their families from take-home pesticide exposure.

State agencies issue licenses to pesticide applicators who need to demonstrate under an EPA-approved program their ability to use these products safely. The proposed revisions would reduce the burden on applicators and pest control companies that work across state lines. The proposal promotes consistency across state programs by encouraging inter-state recognition of licenses.

The proposal also updates the requirements for States, Tribes, and Federal agencies that administer their own certification programs to incorporate the strengthened standards. Many states already have in place some or many of EPA’s proposed changes. The proposed changes would raise the bar nationally to a level that most states have already achieved.  The estimated benefits of $80.5 million would be due to fewer acute pesticide incidents to people.

EPA encourages public comment on the proposed improvements. The 90 day public comment period will begin when the proposal is published in the Federal Register.

A copy of the proposal and more information about certification for pesticide applicators is available here.