Pesticide-Related Laws and Regulations

Laws Affecting EPA's Pesticide Programs

There are over 20 thousand pesticide products registered for use in the United States. Several laws govern the Federal regulatory program for these pesticide products. This fact sheet provides an overview of several of the most common statutes affecting EPA's pesticide program.

Endangered Species Act

This act makes it a Federal offense to use any pesticide in a manner that may adversely affect an endangered species. A special statement will eventually be added to each pesticide label that will warn pesticide applicators to comply with county-specific use limitation bulletins based on the location of endangered species in that county.

EPA enforces their pesticide use policies under the Endangered Species Act. This policy prohibits the use of some pesticides in specific locations. The labels of those pesticides so restricted states that the use of the pesticide is prohibited in specific areas within counties. In order to use the pesticide, the user must obtain an "EPA PESTICIDE USE BULLETIN FOR PROTECTION OF ENDANGERED SPECIES." These bulletins will describe all pertinent restrictions in each affected county. Bulletins are available from Bulletins Live! on the EPA website (see link below). Pesticide users should obtain and read all pertinent information about endangered species before buying and using pesticides that have endangered species restrictions.

Selected links:

Endangered Species Protection Program - EPA's Endangered Species Program site.
Bulletins Live! - EPA endangered species protection bulletins

Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)

The first provision of FIFRA is Pesticide Labeling. You will often hear the statement, "The label is the law." This is because FIFRA provides a standard for pesticide labeling that ensures correct pesticide use when label directions are followed. If you handle or apply any pesticide inconsistently with its labeling, you are in violation of the law and are subject to criminal and civil penalties. Pesticides may only be applied to labeled sites. You may not use pesticides labeled for outdoor or agricultural uses indoors unless the label says you can.

The second FIFRA provision is Pesticide Registration. Under FIFRA all pesticides and pesticide uses must be registered with the EPA. Anyone who sells, distributes or uses a pesticide that is not registered with the EPA is subject to penalties.

The third provision of FIFRA is Pesticide Classification. FIFRA requires that all pesticides on the market be classified as either General-use or Restricted-use. General-use pesticides are relatively safe to the environment and to humans and may be purchased and applied by anyone. Restricted-use pesticides, on the other hand, are pesticides that, even when used exactly as directed on the product labeling, may harm the environment, including humans.

The fourth provision of FIFRA is Pesticide Applicator Certification. Anyone who purchases or applies a pesticide classified as a Restricted-use pesticide must either be certified, or under the supervision of a Certified Pesticide Applicator. In addition, FIFRA distinguishes between certified Private Pesticide Applicators and certified Commercial Pesticide Applicators.

  • Private Pesticide Applicators are applicators who use or supervise the use of Restricted-use pesticides on their own land or land under their control in the production of an agricultural commodity. Private applicators may not charge a fee for applying Restricted-use pesticides, but may apply them for no charge or as an exchange of goods and services.
  • Commercial Pesticide Applicators use or supervise the use of Restricted-use pesticides on the property of others for a fee.

FIFRA is enforced in South Carolina by the Department of Pesticide Regulation at Clemson University.

Selected links:

FIFRA - The Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act

FIFRA Sec. 18 - FIFRA Section 18 Emergency Use information

Field Sanitation Standard

The Field Sanitation Standard applies to agricultural employers who employ more than ten field workers or who maintain a labor camp. This Standard requires that these employers provide their employees who could be exposed to agricultural chemicals with: toilet facilities, hand-washing facilities, clean drinking water, and information about good hygiene practices.

Good hygiene practices should include:

  • Using the water and facilities provided for drinking, hand-washing and using the toilet;
  • Drinking water frequently, especially on hot days;
  • Urinating as often as necessary;
  • And washing hands before and after using the toilet and before eating and smoking.

The provisions of the Field Sanitation Standard are administered and enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the South Carolina Department of Labor.

Selected links:

OSHA Field Sanitation Standard - The Federal Field Sanitation Standard

South Carolina OSHA Office

Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 (FQPA)

The pesticide reregistration program acquired significant new dimensions on August 3, 1996, when the Food Quality Protection Act was enacted. FQPA, which amends both FIFRA and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), establishes a new safety standard for pesticide residues in food and emphasizes protecting the health of infants and children.

Under FQPA, all pesticide food uses must be "safe"; that is, EPA must be able to conclude with "reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure" to each pesticide from dietary and other sources. In determining allowable levels of pesticide residues in food, the Agency must conduct a comprehensive assessment of each pesticide's risks, considering:

  • Aggregate exposure of the public to residues from all sources including food, drinking water, and residential uses;

  • Cumulative effects of pesticides and other substances with common mechanisms of toxicity;

  • Special sensitivity of infants and children to pesticide; and

  • Estrogen or other endocrine effects.

Within ten years of enactment of the new law, EPA must reassess all existing "tolerances" (maximum limits for pesticide residues in foods) and exemptions from the requirement of a tolerance, for both the active and inert ingredients in pesticide products. The Agency must consider the pesticides posing the greatest potential risks first, to ensure that they meet FQPA's new safety standard.

EPA is using reregistration to accomplish tolerance reassessment, the cornerstone of the FQPA. Once reregistration is completed in about 2002, all pesticides will be re-examined periodically in the future through registration review. This new program created by FQPA requires EPA to review every registered pesticide on a suggested 15-year cycle.

Looking to the future, then, the public will have assurance that all registered pesticides are being reviewed periodically and updated to meet current scientific and regulatory standards.

Lots more information on FQPA

Selected FQPA links

Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act (FACT)

Commercial applicators already maintain records of their Restricted-use pesticide applications under the provisions of the South Carolina Pesticide Control Act. Pesticide recordkeeping requirements for Private applicators come under the provisions of the federal Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act, otherwise known as the "1990 Farm Bill".

Under this act, Private applicators are required to keep the following records when they apply Restricted-use pesticides:

  • the brand or product name;

  • EPA registration number of the pesticide applied;

  • the total amount of product applied;

  • the size of the treated area;

  • the crop, commodity, stored product or site to which the pesticide was applied;

  • the location of any application, including any spot application;

  • the month, day and year of the application;

  • the certified applicator's name;

  • and the license number of the certified applicator.

All pesticide application records must be retained for a period of 2 years from the date of the application. Private applicators must complete the record for an application within 14 days following the application. Commercial applicators who apply Restricted-use pesticides on a property must provide the owner of that property with a copy of the necessary information after the application is completed. If an emergency occurs requiring immediate medical treatment, these application records must be accessible to the attending licensed healthcare professional or someone working under that professional's direct supervision.

The Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act is administered by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.

For more information, see Pesticide Recordkeeping

You can also link to U.S. Agricultural Marketing Service's Federal Pesticide Recordkeeping Program

Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires that employers take reasonable steps to assure employee safety, prevent avoidable accidents in the workplace, and inform employees of potential hazards associated with their jobs. OSHA specifically requires that employers develop a written hazard communication program listing all hazardous chemicals present at the site and describing how workers will be informed about the hazards posed by these chemicals.

In addition, employers must have in their possession an MSDS for each hazardous chemical they use. They must provide their employees with information and training on hazardous chemicals when they are hired, reassigned or when a new chemical is introduced into the workplace. And finally, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers must keep records of any pesticide-related injuries or illnesses to their employees.

The provisions of OSHA are administered and enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the South Carolina Department of Labor. OSHA does not apply to farms at which only immediate members of a farmer's family are employed.

Selected links:

Occupational Safety & Health Standards - Federal Standard, 29 CFR Part 1910

South Carolina OSHA

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act provides the EPA with standards for regulating the generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous substances, including some pesticides.

To comply with EPA's hazardous waste regulations, farmers need only pressure (or jet) rinse or triple rinse their empty pesticide containers and dispose of the residues on their own farms in a manner consistent with the pesticide labeling.

In South Carolina, it is against the law to burn or bury any pesticide containers. You should take your properly rinsed pesticide containers to the nearest solid waste landfill that will accept them or to a container recycling location.

Selected links:

RCRA - EPA page with links to just about every part of RCRA. Federal Universal Waste Rule is included.

South Carolina Backflow Prevention, Chemigation Act

This act regulates the application of fertilizers and pesticides through irrigation equipment. The South Carolina Chemigation Act is administered by the Department of Pesticide Regulation. Their inspectors perform site inspections and may take water or chemical samples to determine if check valves or other anti-pollution devices need servicing.

The South Carolina Chemigation Act requires that you immediately report any known or suspected contamination of a water source by chemigation. It also requires that anyone who chemigates maintain, in good working order, all specified backflow prevention equipment and ensure that this equipment is operational at all times. And it requires that specific records of chemigation applications be retained for 2 years from the time of the application.

Anyone who chemigates is subject to the provisions of the South Carolina Chemigation Act whether the pesticides being used for chemigation are labeled Restricted-use or not.

Selected links:


Notice of Approved Backflow Preventive Devices for South Carolina - Bureau of Water, SCDHEC, revised 11/5/10 (PDF).

Lawn Irrigation Sprinkler Requirements in SC - Bureau of Water, SCDHEC, 6/15/05

For more information on the South Carolina Chemigation Law, contact the Department of Pesticide Regulation.

South Carolina Pesticide Control Act

This act gives the Department of Pesticide Regulation the authority to regulate pesticide registration, quality control, and pesticide use in the state of South Carolina. Enforcement duties of the Department of Pesticide Regulation are:

  • inspection of lands actually or reported to be exposed to pesticides;

  • investigation of complaints of injury to humans or land;

  • sampling of pesticides being offered for sale, being applied, or to be applied;

  • issuance of "stop sale, use, or removal" orders on pesticides or pesticide application devices;

  • and civil and criminal prosecution.

There are three major provisions of the South Carolina Pesticide Control Act. The first is Pesticide Registration. Every pesticide distributed in the state of South Carolina or delivered for transportation or transported within the state must be registered with the Department of Pesticide Regulation by the basic producer of the pesticide product.

The second provision is for Pesticide Dealer and Applicator Certification or Licensing. Under the South Carolina Pesticide Control Act pesticide dealers, like applicators, must be licensed annually. However, if a pesticide dealer does not sell Restricted-use pesticides, then that dealer is exempt from the licensing requirement.

Under FIFRA, all pesticide applicators who apply or supervise the application of Restricted-use pesticides must be licensed. The South Carolina Pesticide Control Act goes one step further and divides these pesticide applicator licenses into three classes: private, commercial and non-commercial.

  • Certified private applicators use or supervise the use of Restricted-use pesticides on their own property or another's property in the production of an agricultural commodity for no pay.

  • Certified commercial applicators use or supervise the use of Restricted-use pesticides for pay.

  • Certified non-commercial applicators use or supervise the use of Restricted-use pesticides for a federal, state or local government agency or related institution.

Under the South Carolina Pesticide Control Act, commercial and non-commercial pesticide applicators, depending on their business and types of pesticide applications they perform, must be certified in one or more of the following twelve categories:

  • Agricultural Pest Control--Either Plant Pest Control, Animal Pest Control, or Stored Grain Pest Control

  • Forest Pest Control

  • Ornamental and Turf Pest Control

  • Seed Treatment Pest Control

  • Aquatic Pest Control

  • Right-of-Way Pest Control

  • Industrial, Institutional, Structural and Health-Related Pest Control--Either General or Fumigation

  • Public Health Pest Control

  • Regulatory Pest Control

  • Demonstration and Research

  • Aerial Application Pest Control

  • Miscellaneous--Either Wood Preservation Pest Control, Anti-fouling Paint Pest Control, Small Animal Pest Control or Sewer Line Pest Control

To become certified as a commercial or non-commercial applicator in South Carolina, you must pass a written Core examination and additional written examinations in each of the Categories in which you will be applying pesticides. All commercial examinations are given by the Department of Pesticide Regulation.

To become certified as a private pesticide applicator in the state of South Carolina, you must attend an approved pesticide safety training program conducted by a Clemson Extension County Pesticide Training Coordinator or other Extension agent and pass a written examination following the training. Private pesticide applicator licenses are awarded by the Department of Pesticide Regulation.

According to the South Carolina Pesticide Control Act, all pesticide applicator licenses expire on December 31 and must be renewed before January 1. Your license may be denied, suspended or revoked if you:

  • make a false claim or misrepresent a pesticide;

  • make a recommendation contrary to the pesticide label;

  • apply ineffective or improper materials;

  • operate faulty or unsafe equipment;

  • violate pesticide laws or regulations;

  • fail to maintain the required records;

  • make false records, invoices or reports related to pesticide sale or use;

  • use a Restricted-use pesticide without a license;

  • use misrepresentation in applying for or renewing a license;

  • aid or abet another person to evade any provision of this act;

  • impersonate a government inspector;

  • use a pesticide under an Experimental Use Permit contrary to its provisions;

  • make applications of any pesticide in a grossly negligent manner;

  • refuse or neglect to comply with any restrictions on or in a duly issued license;

  • knowingly make false or misleading statements during or after an inspection;

  • violate any provision of the South Carolina Pesticide Control Act or any rule or regulation of any lawful order.

Under the South Carolina Pesticide Control Act, certified pesticide applicators are required to be recertified on a continuing basis. Recertification training in South Carolina is conducted by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service, and others, through approved training classes, courses or meetings. Approval for these training sessions and courses and subsequent recertification status is awarded by the Department of Pesticide Regulation. To be recertified in the state of South Carolina, private pesticide applicators are required to complete five Continuing Certification Hours in a five year period. Commercial and noncommmercial applicators must complete ten Continuing Certification Hours in the same five year period. No recertification is presently required for pesticide dealers or commercial or non-commercial applicators in Category 12, Miscellaneous. For more information, contact your County Extension Pesticide Training Coordinator.

The final provision of the South Carolina Pesticide Control Act establishes a State Pesticide Advisory Committee. This committee assists the Director of the Division of Regulatory and Public Service Programs with any or all problems relating to the use and application of pesticides.

Complete Rules and Regulations for the Enforcement of the South Carolina Pesticide Control Act of 2006 (PDF)

Superfunds Amendment and Reauthorization Act (SARA Title III)

If you store greater than specific amounts of some pesticides and certain other hazardous agricultural chemicals on your farm, you then become subject to Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act.

Under this act, anyone who uses pesticides may be subject to the notification requirements of the law. The community right-to-know provisions of this act require you to keep Material Safety Data Sheets, or MSDSs, as well as documents showing the location and amount of certain chemicals present at your facility. These must also be provided to state and local emergency planning bodies and to local fire departments.

Worker Protection Standard (WPS)

The Worker Protection Standard must be complied with whenever pesticide products are used on agricultural establishments for the commercial or research production of agricultural plants. Persons who must comply with this regulation include owners or operators of agricultural establishments and owners or operators of commercial businesses that are hired to apply pesticides on agricultural establishments.

The Worker Protection Standard was created to provide agricultural workers and pesticide handlers in agriculture with protections against possible exposure and harm from pesticides in the workplace. Pesticide applicators fall into the category of pesticide handlers in this regulation.

Under the provisions of the Worker Protection Standard, agricultural employers are required to do the following:

  • Display at a central location specific information about pesticide safety, emergency procedures and recent pesticide applications;
  • Supply pesticide safety training for their agricultural workers and pesticide handlers;
  • Provide assistance in getting medical treatment in case of work-related pesticide emergencies;

In addition, agricultural employers:

  • must comply with restricted-entry intervals found on the label. These are the times immediately after pesticide applications when workers may not enter treated areas;
  • must notify workers through oral and/or posted warnings about areas where pesticide applications are taking place and areas where restricted-entry intervals are in effect on their property;
  • must provide decontamination sites for workers and handlers to wash pesticides residues off their hands and bodies.

Under the Worker Protection Standard, it is illegal for anyone other than a trained, properly equipped pesticide handler to be present at a site during a pesticide application. In addition, pesticide handlers must be routinely monitored while they are making applications in certain hazardous situations or using pesticides bearing a skull and crossbones on the label.

Employers must instruct all pesticide handlers in correct use of personal protective equipment and correct use of pesticide application equipment. And finally, they must provide the personal protective equipment listed on the pesticide label to all pesticide handlers and specially trained workers, called early-entry workers. In a few very limited situations, these early-entry workers may enter pesticide-treated areas before the restricted-entry interval has expired, but never during a pesticide application.

The Department of Pesticide Regulation is the regulatory agency in South Carolina responsible for enforcement of the Worker Protection Standard.

For more information see Worker Protection Standard