University of Minnesota Extension

Be Pesticide Smart E-News UMN

Extension PSEE (Pesticide Safety and Environmental Education)

February 1, 2023

How pesticides are regulated

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the government agency that oversees the registration process of any pesticide including, but not limited to insecticides, herbicides and antimicrobial disinfectants.

The EPA goes through an extensive process to determine how consumers can safely and legally handle or use pesticide products. Misuse of pesticides based on the pesticide label is enforceable by law which is why they have this statement, “It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.”

The Process

Registration of a pesticide is a scientific, legal and administrative process that examines the ingredients of the product, what it will be used on, or how it will be used, the amounts, frequencies or timing of the product, and storage and disposal practices.

Part of the evaluation of the product is to conduct risk assessments on how a product can affect humans, wildlife, fish and plants including endangered species, and non-targeted species. Further studies are conducted on the potential for contamination of surface water, groundwater, leaching, runoff and spray drifts.

Human health risks are studied based on short-term toxicity and long-term effects such as cancers, or reproductive risks.

The language used on labels are also evaluated so they are the most effective way to communicate directions for use, potential risks, storage and disposal guidelines, as well as first aid in the event of exposure.

During the evaluation process, all of the data is peer reviewed. Once all of the information is accepted, the product will become published in the Federal Register before it is available in the marketplace.

Overall this entire process can take years to complete. As you can see, products are carefully scrutinized before becoming available for consumers.