Pesticide Regulation, Safety, and Storage

Restricted Use Pesticides and Obtaining a Pesticide Applicator License

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies certain pesticides, or uses of pesticides, as restricted if they could cause harm to humans (pesticide handlers or other persons) or the environment unless applied by certified applicators who have the knowledge to use these pesticides safely. These are called Restricted Use Pesticides, and they are available for purchase and use only by certified pesticide applicators or persons under their direct supervision.

All restricted use pesticides included in the pesticide tables in this guide are identified by a small R (R).

The EPA defines two categories of pesticide applicators: private and commercial. A private applicator is a person who uses (or supervises the use of) restricted use pesticides on agricultural lands owned or rented by that individual or his/ her employer. The private applicator may not apply restricted use pesticides on another person’s property if he/she is to receive monetary compensation. A commercial applicator is defined as any person who uses or supervises the use of any pesticides for monetary compensation. Both categories require an applicator’s license, however, the testing and recertification differ among the two.

Applicants can pick up study materials at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food in Salt Lake City or at any UDAF District Field Office. Make an appointment to take the exam, and allow two hours.

  • Private applicators’ exams (general and agriculture) are open-book and the fee is $20. Upon passing, your license will last 3 years. To recertify, you can re-take the exams or obtain 9 total CEU units.
  • Commercial applicators’ exams cost $65, and last three years license. Business owners must also obtain a Commercial Pesticide Business license, or else get a Non-Commercial license if this does not apply. The applicant must have 70% to pass. To recertify, you can re-take the exams or obtain 24 total CEU units.

Utah Department of Agriculture and Food Division of Plant Industry
350 North 1700 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84114

Pesticide Recordkeeping

Federal laws requires that private and commercial applicators maintain pesticide records for all applications of restricted use products for at least two years. The laws are enforced through the state departments of agriculture. Applicators can develop their own format for data keeping. Spray dates must be recorded within 14 days after the application is made, and must include:

  1. Name and address of property owner
  2. Location of treatment site, if different from above, crop treated, and size of area
  3. Target pest
  4. Exact date of application
  5. Brand name and EPA registration number of pesticide used
  6. Total amount of product applied
  7. Name and license number of the applicator

Because Worker Protection Standards require worker notification of all pesticide applications, it is recommended that comparable records be kept of all pesticide applications. This will enable you to complete a listing of pesticides used at the time of harvest. Packing sheds and processors are increasingly requiring pesticide usage lists.

EPA Worker Protection Standard (WPS)

EPA’s Worker Protection Standard (WPS) for agricultural pesticides is a regulation aimed at reducing the risk of pesticide poisonings and injuries among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. The WPS offers protections to approximately 2.5 million agricultural workers (people involved in the production of agricultural plants) and pesticide handlers (people who mix, load, or apply pesticides) that work at over 600,000 agricultural establishments. The WPS contains requirements for pesticide safety training, notification of pesticide applications, use of personal protective equipment, restricted-entry intervals after pesticide application, decontamination supplies, and emergency medical assistance.

Avoiding Drift, Runoff, and Spills

Pesticides that enter the environment can cause injury to humans, animals, and non-target plants. Whenever sprays are necessary, only apply when weather conditions are appropriate, application equipment is properly calibrated, and pesticide formulation, droplet size, and adjuvants are used to minimize drift and runoff.

Utah’s Groundwater and Pesticide Program

Groundwater is essential to the welfare and vitality of the people and agricultural producers of Utah. Approximately half of the groundwater withdrawn from wells in Utah is used for agriculture. Slightly less than half of the population of Utah, depends on groundwater as a source of drinking water.

In 1997, The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food received approval from the EPA for its Groundwater and Pesticide State Management Plan. The plan outlines plans towards protecting groundwater from pesticide contamination and response to a detection of a pesticide or pesticides in groundwater.

If a pesticide detection in groundwater is confirmed, then a groundwater monitoring plan will be implemented in the area to determine the extent and, if possible, the source of pesticide contamination. This will require the involvement of the Pesticide Committee, a group of agricultural representatives and government scientists appointed by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

The UDAF will work with the landowner to prevent further ground water contamination. A number of different farming practices, called Best Management Practices (BMPs), and simple devices can significantly reduce the possibility of pesticides entering the ground water system. BMPs will be required by the EPA as a condition of future use of the pesticides.

The EPA has identified the five broad-spectrum herbicides due to their high potential to leach into groundwater and to be a possible detriment to public health, safety, and the environment. The pesticides are: alachlor, atrazine, cyanazine, metolachlor, and simazine. Each has been detected in groundwater in several states, with some detections exceeding drinking water standards.

Pesticide Storage and Disposal

In general, pesticides should always be stored in a safe location. The storage facility should be kept locked so that children and other unauthorized people cannot enter and be exposed to pesticide hazards. All pesticides should be kept in their original containers, closed tightly, and with their original labels. If the label has come off or is coming off, paste or tape it back on. All pesticides should be protected from excessive heat, and liquid pesticides should be stored in an area protected from freezing.

You are encouraged to review your annual pesticide needs and stocks on hand well in advance of the growing season to prepare for disposal of unused product. To minimize carryover, base pesticide purchases on the amount projected for use within any given season. Empty containers should be triplerinsed and drained; they often can then be disposed of through regular trash collection, but be sure to check the label and local regulations. Never dispose of pesticides or containers by dumping them into the sewer, sink, or toilet. Municipal water treatment practices remove little of the pesticides, and such careless disposal can contaminate waterways and is subject to penalties. The best means to dispose of such pesticides is to use them up according to their labeled instructions. The UDAF occasionally holds pesticide disposal drop-offs with no questions asked.

More Information

Michael Wierda

Pesticide Safety Education Specialist

Office Location: UAES Kaysville Research Farm
Phone: (435) 919-1270