CEU Series: Key In On The Contents Of Pesticide Labels

In Florida, pest problems may occur year-round and a chemical pesticide will often be selected as part of an integrated management program to manage the problem. If a pesticide will be part of the management plan, understanding the contents of the pesticide label is essential for the product’s safe and effective use.

The pesticide label contains a tremendous amount of information and will tells you how to correctly use the pesticide. The label, when properly followed, provides protection for applicators, consumers and the environment.

No pesticide may be sold in the U.S. until the EPA has reviewed the manufacturer’s application for registration and determined that use of the product does not present an unreasonable risk to humans, wildlife, or the environment. As part of the registration process, the EPA must approve all language that the manufacturer proposes to include in the product labeling.

Purpose Of Label

Pesticide product labels provide critical information about how to safely and legally handle and use pesticide products. Unlike most other products, pesticide labels are legally enforceable, and all of them carry the statement: “It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.” Enforcement of pesticide regulations and label requirements is primarily carried out by state agencies acting under cooperative agreements with EPA. In Florida, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is delegated with this authority.

The EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) conducts label reviews the labeling to make sure it is clear, accurate, consistent with EPA policies and regulations, and enforceable. The label review ensures the label contains all information needed for safe and effective use of the pesticide.

The Label And The Law

The label is the law. Pesticide users are forbidden to use a pesticide in a way contrary to its labeling. Any use not indicated on the label is prohibited. It is also illegal for consultants or sales persons to recommend a pesticide be used contrary to its label. The information found on the label has passed strict government requirements. The label itself, not just the pesticide product, must be registered by the EPA before it is used.

EPA reviews and approves each statement which is on the label. The EPA Label Improvement Program updates pesticide labels in areas that contribute to health and environmental safety. According to the program, pesticide manufacturers revise product labels so both the applicator and the regulatory agency can delineate legal uses for pesticides released after April 30, 1988. As part of health and safety, the toxicity warnings on labels come from tests required by the government. The pesticide and the label are registered by EPA only when the applicators, consumers, and fish and wildlife will be protected.

If the label statements are carefully followed, no illegal residues will be found on any crop. Applicators, dealers, consultants and salesmen making recommendations other than those recommended on pesticide labels are liable under the law. Getting a single pesticide ready for registration can take seven to nine years and usually costs the chemical company $20 to $40 million dollars or more. Surely if it costs that much, the label is worth reading!

Each pesticide you buy has a label which gives you instructions on how to use the product. Labels vary greatly depending on what the product is used for, when it was issued or reviewed, size of the package, and company format.

Label Versus Labeling

Label: A pesticide label includes any text or images printed directly on, or attached to, the container of a pesticide product or its packaging. The label implies different things to different people;

• To the manufacturer, the label is a “license to sell.”
• To the state or federal government, the label is a way to control the distribution, storage, sale, use, and disposal of the product.
• To the buyer or user, the label is a source of facts on how to use the product correctly and legally.
• To physicians, the label is a source of identification and information or proper treatment for poisoning cases.

All labels will tell you how to use the product correctly.

Labeling, on the other hand, includes the label, as well as any printed or written material that accompanies the product, for example, a booklet. Labeling can also include material to which the label (or other labeling material) refers. For example, if a label refers to a manual or website on how to conduct a procedure, that information is also part of the labeling that the user must follow and EPA must approve it.

Labeling is all the information that you receive from the manufacturer about the product. It includes the label on the product container plus any supplemental information including brochures, leaflets, and information handed out by your dealer or a recognized authority. It is the responsibility of the applicator to comply with all of this information.

For example, every agricultural pesticide label bears the statement, “Use this product only in accordance with its labeling and with the Worker Protection Standard, 40 CFR Part 170.” By this statement, the EPA Worker Protection Standard becomes part of the labeling and users must comply with all 53 pages of the Worker Protection Standard.

Recommended Doses

Recommended doses and directions for applying approved uses also appear on every label. These suggestions can be helpful to you because they state the maximum dosage permitted by law. However, local conditions may not require maximum doses to achieve good control of the pest. You should use no more pesticide than is needed.

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