EPA Proposes More Training, Age Restrictions for Applying Certain Pesticides

Posted on 8/6/2015 by Roger Marks

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week proposed new certification, training, and age requirements for individuals who apply certain high-risk pesticides, called “restricted-use” pesticides. EPA regulates pesticide application under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

“Restricted-use” pesticides, or RUPs, are not available for purchase by the general public. Under the current US EPA rules, these pesticides require special handling and only a certified applicator—or someone working under the certified applicator’s direct supervision—can apply them.

In the pre-publication version of the rule, available here, EPA proposes expanding the training and certification requirements for pesticide applicators, introducing a minimum age for applying certain pesticides, and new rules for noncertified applicators working under direct supervision.

FIFRA aerial application of restricted use pesticide

Minimum Age for RUP Applicators

The proposed rule sets an age limit for certified and noncertified RUP applicators: Whether certified or working under direct supervision, all individuals who apply restricted-use pesticides must be at least 18 years old.

New RUP Training and Certification Requirements

To be certified to apply RUPs under the new proposed standards, applicators must demonstrate the following competencies:
  • “Core” competency—the general standards of competency for commercial pesticide applicators;
  • Standards generally applicable to pesticide use in agriculture; and
  • Specific related regulations for private applicators, like the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) at 40 CFR 170.
The expanded certification program provides an option for applicators to complete a training program or pass a written exam to demonstrate competency. EPA also proposes a re-certification standard for RUP applicators, which would require applicators to demonstrate continued competence once every three years by completing a training program or passing a “core-competency” exam and to renew their qualification every three years.

The proposed rule also lays out a standard for earning continuing education units (CEUs) in order to maintain certification.

State Responsibilities

Currently, states issue licenses to pesticide applicators and must have a State plan in place to evaluate and certify individuals. If the EPA rulemaking is finalized, states may need to adjust their recertification programs (if a recertification program is in place) to meet the new Federal standards. By setting Federal standards for pesticide applicator licensing and certification, EPA believes it will reduce the burden on pest control companies and pesticide applicators who work in multiple states by promoting inter-state recognition of licenses.

The proposal also includes requirements for states to submit annual reports to EPA on the numbers of applicators and other relevant data.

Applying RUPs Under Supervision

To apply pesticides under the supervision of a certified applicator, noncertified applicators will be required to demonstrate competency through a written test or by completing a training program, and to demonstrate continued competence either annually or once every three years.

Specific Application Methods – Aerial and Fumigation

The rule also includes method-specific categories of certification for more high-risk application methods like aerial application and both soil and non-soil fumigation. In the pre-publication rule, EPA provides a non-exhaustive list of industries that may be affected by this pesticide rulemaking, which includes many subsets of the pest control industry (e.g., forestry, livestock, wood preservation, agricultural, nursery and tree production), pesticide R&D, pesticide registrants and dealers, crop advisors, and more.

Read the full proposed changes to EPA’s FIFRA pesticide certification program.

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