Pesticide Registration

Pesticide Emergency Exemptions

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Introduction to Pesticide Emergency Exemptions

Emergency exemptions can be requested by a state or federal agencies when a serious pest problem jeopardizes production of agricultural goods or public health but no pesticides are currently registered for that situation. They submit information describing the pest emergency and request permission to use a specific pesticide even though it is not currently registered for that use.

We can grant a limited use of the pesticide in specific geographic areas for a finite period of time once we confirm whether the situation meets that statutory definition of "emergency condition" and conduct risk assessments:

  • One year for specific or public health exemptions.
  • Three years for quarantine exemptions.

Section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) authorizes the EPA to allow an unregistered use of a pesticide for a limited time if we determine that an emergency condition exists. The regulations governing Section 18 of FIFRA (found at Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, part 166), define the term “Emergency Condition” as an urgent, non-routine situation that requires the use of a pesticide(s). 

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Evaluating Emergency Exemption Requests

We typically make decisions on the requests for emergency exemptions within 50 days. We will grant an emergency exemption request if the criteria for an emergency are met and the pesticide use meets our safety standard.

We perform a multi-disciplinary evaluation of the request, including the following:

  • Assessment of the validity of the emergency claim and economic loss.
  • Human dietary risk assessment.
  • Occupational risk assessment.
  • Ecological and environmental risk assessment.
  • Assessment of the progress toward registration for the use for specific or public health exemption requests.

If the exemption program involves the treatment of agricultural goods, we will establish formal tolerances (maximum allowable residue levels) to cover any pesticide residues in food that may result. Tolerances established for emergency exemption uses are time- limited, corresponding to the time that treated commodities might be found in channels of trade.

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Types of Emergency Exemptions

  1. Specific:
    • Majority of requests are for specific exemptions.
    • Requested when an emergency condition exists, in order to avert a significant economic loss, or a significant risk to endangered or threatened species, beneficial organisms, or the environment.
    • Growers or agricultural research scientists identify a pest situation that registered pesticides will not alleviate.
    • State pesticide agency requests an emergency exemption from EPA.
    • We evaluate request and decide whether or not to authorize use.
    • Specific exemptions may be authorized for up to one year.
  2. Quarantine:
    • Requested to control the introduction or spread of an invasive pest species not previously known to be occur in the United States and its territories.
    • "Emergency” rests on the need to prevent the introduction or spread of an invasive species.
    • Quarantine exemptions may be authorized for up to 3 years.
  3. Public Health:
    • Requested to control a pest that will cause a significant risk to human health.
    • Emergency based upon the risk to human health presented by the pest.
    • Public health exemptions may be authorized for up to one year.
  4. Crisis:
    • Requested when there is an immediate need for a specific, quarantine, or public health exemption.
    • Following communication with us and our clearance, state lead agency or federal agency may issue a crisis exemption allowing the unregistered use to proceed for up to 15 days.
    • We confirm that the appropriate safety findings can be made
    • The request for a crisis exemption may be followed by a request for a specific, quarantine, or public health emergency exemption request.

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For More Information


Questions concerning Section 18 Emergency Exemptions can be directed to Tawanda Maignan (, Section 18 Emergency Exemption Team Leader, or at 703-308-8050.

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