Regulatory Information by Topic: Pesticides

EPA and the states (usually that state's agriculture office) register or license pesticides for use in the United States. EPA receives its authority to register pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).  Additionally, under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), EPA establishes tolerances (maximum legally permissible levels) for pesticide residues in food.

Read more at Regulating Pesticides

On this page:

Endangered Species and Pesticides

See EPA’s Endangered Species Protection Program

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Establishments that produce pesticides, active ingredients or devices, including companies or establishments that import into the United States, must register and file production reports with EPA.

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Food Quality

See Pesticide Tolerances

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Importing and Exporting

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A critical aspect of registering a pesticide product is the approval of the product label.  Once registered, a pesticide may not legally be used unless the use is consistent with the approved directions for use on the pesticide's labeling.

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Pesticide Tolerances

EPA establishes tolerances (maximum legally permissible levels) for pesticide residues in food. Other food quality issues may by regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture.

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Pesticides must be registered or exempted by EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs before they may be sold or distributed in the United States.

Read more at Pesticide Registration Program.

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Restricted and Canceled Uses

EPA registers pesticides and their use on specific pests and under specific circumstances.  In some circumstances, use of a registered pesticide may be restricted to pesticide applicators with special training.  Over time, registered pesticides, or certain uses of a registered pesticide, have been canceled.

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Storage and Disposal

Pesticides are regulated under FIFRA until they are disposed, after which they are regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) which ensures responsible management of hazardous and nonhazardous waste. Some pesticides are regulated as hazardous waste when disposed.

The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration regulates the transport of hazardous materials. Some pesticides are regulated as DOT hazardous materials while in commerce.

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Worker Protection 

The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is a federal regulation designed to protect employees on farms, forests, nurseries and greenhouses from occupational exposures to agricultural pesticides.

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