Pesticides are regulated to protect public health and welfare and to prevent adverse effects to the environment. Federal and state acts were passed to help regulate in the best interest of the public, the labeling, sale, distribution, storage, transportation, use, application and disposal of pesticides. In fact pesticides are regulated from the time of their discovery in the laboratory to ultimately their use in the field, even their disposal is regulated.
In 1947, the U.S. Congress enacted the well-known, ‘Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act’, better known as FIFRA. FIFRA is the legislation that regulates the production, transportation, sale, use and disposal of all pesticides at the Federal level. This legislation has been amended several times, most recently in 1988. FIFRA is currently administered by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA has the authority to stop the sale or use of any pesticide; they can issue removal orders and seize products to keep them out of the market. Individual states may impose stricter regulations on a pesticide, but in no case can state regulations be more liberal than those applied by the EPA. Through FIFRA, all pesticides are classified according to their potential hazards based on the circumstances in which they are meant to be used.
The two main classifications are unclassified use and restricted use (RUP). Unclassified pesticides can be bought and used by the general public without special permits or restrictions. A pesticide would typically be classified as restricted use if the use of the pesticide may result in an unreasonable adverse effect on human health or the environment; however when applied by trained persons according to the label directions would protect against such adverse effects (http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/lfra.html).
Depending on the formulation of the pesticide, the application method or the intended use, some active ingredients (AI) may be listed in both use categories. For example, a formulation that has 70% active ingredient might be listed as a RUP, while the same AI in a pesticide formulation with only 5% AI might be classified as a general use pesticide.