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EPA Proposes Stricter Standards For Pesticide Applicators

Friday, September 11, 2015

On August 5, 2015 the EPA issued a proposal to revise the Certification of Pesticide Applicators rule. The rule would help keep our communities safe, protect the environment and reduce risk to those applying pesticides. Pesticide use would be safer with increased supervision and oversight. The proposed changes will help ensure that the riskiest pesticides are used safely.

EPA is accepting comments on the proposal until November 23, 2015. To comment, please see docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0183 at

What is EPA announcing?

The EPA is proposing stronger training and certification standards for pesticide applicators who are certified to apply the riskiest pesticides, known as restricted use pesticides (RUPs). Federal regulations require applicators to be certified in order to apply RUPs. Additionally, RUPs may be used only by, or under the direct supervision of, certified applicators. The goal is to reduce the likelihood of harm from the misapplication of RUPs and ensure a consistent level of protection among states.

Who would this proposed rule affect, and how?

There are approximately one million pesticide applicators in the United States using RUPs and the proposed rule would impact all of those applicators, including commercial pesticide applicators and private pesticide applicators, such as farmers and ranchers. 

The proposed rule would also impact states and tribes that operate certification programs. The impact on applicators and states and tribes would vary based on the current state or tribal requirements.

Most states already have in place some or many of the elements of the rule that EPA is proposing, such as mandatory recertification, specialized certification to use high risk application methods (aerial and fumigation), more stringent certification requirements for private applicators, and training for noncertified applicators.

How do these proposed revisions differ from the current Certification and Training Rule?

The proposed rule:

  • Enhances applicator competency standards to ensure that RUPs are used safely.
  • Establishes a first time-ever nation-wide minimum age of 18 for certified applicators and persons working under their direct supervision.
  • Requires all applicators to renew certifications every 3 years.
  • Requires additional specialized certifications for people using high-risk application methods (fumigation and aerial).
  • Requires first time annual safety training and increased oversight for persons working under the direct supervision of a certified applicator. Training includes reducing take-home pesticide exposure to protect worker families.
  • Promotes interstate recognition of applicator licenses to reduce the administrative burden for businesses that operate in multiple states.
  • Provides expanded options for establishing certification programs in Indian Country that acknowledge tribal sovereignty.
  • Clarifies and streamlines requirements for states, tribes, and federal agencies to administer their own certification programs.


For more information on the proposed rule, go to EPA


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