In a few recent phone calls, it was identified that some applicators out there may not know what a restricted-use pesticide is or know how to identify one. Understanding this is a very important part of keeping compliant when putting out pesticides.
Pesticides, excluding a few minimum-risk pesticides, have to be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As part of this complex process, the EPA takes the data required and the current body of research and does risk assessments on those products. Once this is done, these risk assessments are used to do what is called a “risk benefits analysis.” This analysis weighs the risks against the benefits of that product being registered and its specific registered uses.
If the risks of a pesticide are too high, that product will not likely be registered by the EPA and thus not be allowed to be sold or used. If the risks are within reasonable limits then the product will be registered. New pesticides coming to the market go through this, but pesticides that are already on the market also go through this every so often to weigh in on any new understandings or findings.
When the risks of use are higher, but still not deemed unreasonable, the EPA will register the product as a restricted-use pesticide. In doing this, the EPA requires training to reduce those risks and restricts the sale and use of the pesticide only to those who have gone through training. The training addresses risks of use and how to mitigate those risks through safety, personal protection equipment and how pesticides can move or affect the environment. This is certification. Under 10% of the pesticides registered are restricted use pesticides. The bulk are still what is loosely called “general use pesticides.”
What this means is that ONLY those who are certified can buy and use Restricted-Use Pesticides (RUPs). Pesticide dealers are not allowed to sell restricted-use pesticide to those who are not certified. Uncertified applicators are not allowed to mix, load or apply restricted-use pesticides.
Unique to some states, Wisconsin being one of them, they do not allow supervisory exemptions. Meaning that a certified applicator cannot supervise noncertified applicators in the use of restricted-use pesticides. In Wisconsin all applicators are treated the same when it comes to restricted use pesticides. Also in the state of Wisconsin you must be certified and licensed to use restricted use pesticides in any situation.
How do I identify I am going to be using a restricted-use pesticide? Well, check the label. If the pesticide you are interested in has a restricted-use pesticide prominently displayed on the front page of the label, then you are interested in a restricted-use pesticide (Figure 1). If you don’t see this, you are not using one.
Figure 1. An example of a Restricted Use Pesticide warning on a pesticide label.