Agricultural businesses and pesticide applicators in 17 counties can dispose of unwanted pesticides safely and easily in 2016 through the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s CHEMSWEEP program.

The program is offered in different counties each year. In 2016 it will be available in Armstrong, Blair, Cambria, Chester, Clarion, Delaware, Forest, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Luzerne, Snyder, Somerset, Union, Venango, and Wyoming counties.

“Pesticides can be a problem when they outlive their usefulness, sitting in barns and sheds and becoming hazardous to the environment and to your safety,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Thanks to CHEMSWEEP, it’s easier for our agriculture industry to safeguard our environment and properly dispose of pesticides.”

More than 2.3 million pounds of unwanted or unusable pesticides have been properly destroyed through the program since it was established in 1993.

Every year, many pesticide products are discontinued, phased out or become unusable, leaving growers, commercial establishments and applicators with potentially dangerous and toxic materials that cannot be placed in landfills. The unwanted pesticides often become a safety hazard and an environmental concern through long-term storage in garages, barns or other areas.

Licensed pesticide applicators, pesticide dealers and commercial pesticide application businesses from the designated counties are eligible to participate by completing the CHEMSWEEP registration/inventory form that will be direct-mailed. The registration period ends Feb. 28.

An independent contractor hired by the state agriculture department collects and packages all waste pesticides at each participating location, primarily for incineration at facilities approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. CHEMSWEEP covers the disposal cost for the first 2,000 pounds per participant. Above that level, participants are billed at the agriculture department’s contracted price.