We have discussed before that pesticides are a hazard and when combined with exposure can equal risk. Certain pesticides have more risk and require licensing/certification before use. Getting this “pesticide license” usually requires a test and continual renewal, it is not an easy process. With all that in place, surely that is all there is right…is a pesticide license all I need?
Think of a pesticide license like a driver’s license. Do I only need a driver’s license to drive my car? In most cases the answer to that is YES, but like most in life, not always. In addition to my drivers license I likely need car insurance, which is a completely different process. If I drive a large semi-truck commercially my regular license isn’t enough. There is more training because a semi involves more risk. A car with specialized features, like self driving, might have manufacturer training materials offered. Finally, if I am driving with children, I have to give extra consideration for their safety and use a car seat. As outlined below pesticide licenses can be somewhat similar.
The first step is determining IF you need a license and if you do, which license you need. While having this license allows you to buy and use restricted use pesticides (RUP), always be sure to check that there are no state or local ordinances that require additional certifications. If you are a commercial entity there are likely liability and business license requirements in addition to the pesticide license. Just like I need car insurance in addition to my license there might be extra liability you need for a pesticide application business. Double check ALL the licenses you might need.
You have confirmed you have all your business licenses, you have all the local ordinances covered, you have your pesticide license, you are ready to treat right? Those who have followed these blogs awhile know you must always Read The Label! There are an increasing number of products that have specific additional training requirements on the label. Label mandated training has been added to a growing list of pesticides. A commercial truck driver needs a commercial drivers license (CDL) because a larger vehicle carries more risk. Similarly, certain pesticides require extra training because they have more risk.
Perhaps the most well-known example of this training is for the product paraquat. Purchasing and using paraquat requires a license because it is an RUP with an acute toxicity potential. Unlike other RUP products there is no direct supervision allowance EVERYBODY who touches, uses, or participates in applications with paraquat MUST have a license. Additionally every 3 years an EPA approved training must be completed and records of that training maintained. There are additional special packaging and closed loop loading requirements as well.
You may have seen news about dicamba and off-target injury to crops, particularly in Arkansas. Several years ago, all labels and uses for dicamba products were suspended, then that was reversed, it has been confusing to keep up with. Drift, or the movement of pesticides away from their target, is the primary concern for dicamba. In an attempt to mitigate this the dicamba label also requires attending a training before using their product and that ALL personnel be licensed applicators. There are also extensive record keeping requirements listed on the label.
Like paraquat, soil fumigants have a higher risk for acute toxicity and require additional training for use. This training is listed on the EPA website for soil fumigants and is required for anyone working with these products. These trainings are active ingredient specific, so only training on the active ingredients you use. States that require a special soil fumigation license and have plans approved by EPA may be exempt from these trainings.
If a car company makes a complicated vehicle that they want to ensure drivers can use correctly, self-driving cars as an example, they might offer additional training above and beyond required licensure. Proper pesticide stewardship ensures safe and effective use of these important tools. Pesticide manufacturers might require or offer additional training to goes along with their product before you can buy it. Training may be provided at time of purchase or at a later date by a company representative. This training can vary widely, but is still important for effective and safe use of these products.
Driving a car with children requires more than a license, more than insurance, more than additional training, it requires a car seat. This is separate from all the training required for you to drive in the first place. A car seat is no less needed than a license for the safety of ALL passengers in the car. Pesticide applicators are protected by training and following the label, but they aren’t the only ones needing safety. If you are using pesticides in an agricultural setting, the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) may apply. The WPS rules and regulations are there to help protect workers and other personnel on a farm. These workers might encounter pesticides but are not performing the actual treatments. To learn about all the details of this rule and to check if you fall under WPS the How To Comply Manual is a very useful resource.
Getting your pesticide license is always a great place to start (and often required) and reading the label will ensure you know ALL the rules you must comply with. Label mandated training comes in many forms and is extra work. Read the label to find all the training requirements you need. Many training materials are available online and on demand, which makes it easier to ensure you get the training completed. Driving a car and using pesticides have more in common that we might initially think. For both a license alone may not be enough. Hopefully now you can answer the question, is a pesticide license all I need? The answer should be “maybe” but I know where to look and what other considerations to take, thanks Pesticide Information Office!