In 1947, Congress enacted the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Congress intended this law to protect pesticide consumers and applicators, and the environment. The U.S. Department of Agriculture operated the FIFRA program until 1970, when Congress passed control to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA seeks to meet the goals of the act by controlling the production, sale, distribution, and use of pesticides. FIFRA regulations appear in 40 CFR 152–180.
Under FIFRA, all pesticide-manufacturing plants, and all pesticides sold or distributed in commerce, must be registered with EPA. Labels on pesticide containers include important safety information, application instructions, and intervals at which applicators can re-enter an application area. FIFRA regulations require that workers follow all label instructions. Workers must follow safety standards (Worker Protection Standards) when they mix and apply pesticides, and state agencies must certify workers who apply certain pesticides. FIFRA also mandates practices for management of waste pesticides and container residues.
States may have additional pesticide regulations and requirements, including separate registration requirements for pesticides and applicators. States may also have adopted annual use reporting obligations.
The EPA definition of pesticide includes any herbicide, nematodicide, insecticide, larvicide, fungicide, or rodenticide. EPA includes antimicrobial compounds not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in this definition and some swimming pool sanitizing chemicals.
Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) and Restricted Area
As of May 2007, EPA lists 28 chemicals in various formulations as restricted use pesticides (RUPs). Only state-certified applicators may mix or apply RUPs. Any area in which RUPs are applied is a restricted area.
These are workers who perform tasks related to the cultivation and harvesting of plants. They may work on farms or in greenhouses, nurseries, or forests.
These are workers who mix, load, or apply pesticides. In addition, workers who clean or repair pesticide application equipment or assist with the application of pesticides in any way are also pesticide handlers.
Worker Protection Standards
The Worker Protection Standards apply to pesticide handlers and agricultural workers, including faculty, staff, and students involved in research uses of RUPs in greenhouses. The Worker Protection Standards do not apply to research uses of unrestricted pesticides. These rules cover almost any activity that could bring an employee into direct contact with pesticides. The Worker Protection Standards are detailed in 40 CFR 170.
Does this apply to my campus?
If personnel from your campus apply pesticides, then certain aspects of FIFRA will apply. If a contractor applies pesticides, that contractor must adhere to the applicable portions of FIFRA. All pesticide workers must receive training. Applicators must be state-certified if they work with RUPs.
The Worker Protection Standards do not apply to research uses of unrestricted pesticides or to workers who handle empty pesticide containers only.
What do I have to do?
Workers must follow all instructions on the label. If your facility applies RUPs, a state agency must certify both the supervisor and applicators.
Determine whether there are state rules about protection of workers who use unrestricted pesticides. If there are such rules, ensure that your program includes those requirements, including training, record keeping, and reporting.
Pesticide handlers and agricultural workers covered by these rules must receive training. This training must include use and application of personal protective equipment, emergency procedures, intervals for re-entry into restricted areas, and standards for labeling. These workers must receive training within 5 days of starting to work in a restricted area. Refresher training is required every 5 years.
Also, restricted areas must display a specific poster to warn of the presence of RUPs