The Pesticide Label
If you decide to use a pesticide, you will most likely purchase these chemicals from a local outlet. Before you go to this outlet, please make sure you know what you are doing. You should already know what pest you are trying to control, how you are going to apply a pesticide (the types of equipment and methods available to you for application), and have established how important it is to control the pest.
With these factors in mind, you can go to your supplier and either ask for help or scan the shelves for the proper control. If you ask for help, make sure you read the product label carefully before you buy the chemical and not just go on the word of a clerk. There have been many situations where a person asked for advice at the store and came home with the wrong chemical. This is especially critical when you are shopping for a pesticide to apply on plants grown for food. Read the product label before you buy the pesticide to make sure you can use the chemical to control your pest problem. Is the product labeled for your crop or animal? If not, you cannot use it legally or safely. Read carefully for when to apply, how much to apply, and what type of equipment is needed to apply the chemical.
What Formulation Is Best for Your Situation?
Pesticide products are usually sold in concentrated forms which require mixing before use. Concentrates are generally less expensive per treatment than ready-to-use formulations, but present other problems. Concentrates include wettable powders (W or WP), emulsifiable concentrates (E or EC), soluble powders (SP), and flowables (F). Do you have the means to mix, pour, and apply a concentrate safely? If you buy too much, which is usually the case with most homeowners using concentrates, keep in mind that you might have to store the toxic concentrate in your home indefinitely if you can’t use the chemical within a short period of time. If you store many pesticides longer than a few years, they will deteriorate and become useless (yet still toxic). Are you prepared to possibly pay to have your chemical disposed of through a hazardous waste service? Although sometimes permitted by law, if you throw the waste chemical into the garbage you could create a hazard to others and the environment.
Other formulations are sold ready-to-use. These can be applied directly without mixing and include: solutions (S), aerosols (A), dusts (D), pellets (P), granules (G), and baits (B). You should purchase only enough pesticide to use in one season. Look for products with reduced packaging that are low in toxicity, that present low hazards to the environment, and which allow you to use them without having to handle, store, or dispose of concentrates. In addition, pick products which won’t require you to purchase expensive application equipment in order to apply them. Some products are now sold in single dose packaging, which eliminates the problem of storing excess pesticide concentrates.
What are the Parts of the Product Label?
The most important piece of information available to you is the pesticide product label. It is a legal document and is required to list all pertinent information about the product. You should become familiar with the different parts of the pesticide label. The information to follow corresponds to the numbers on the sample label to follow.
- Product Name: includes the name of the manufacturer (ChemCo), the product name (NoPest), and the function of the product (Insect Killer).
- Ingredient Statement: includes the amount of active ingredient by percent (8.0%) of the total product and identifies the ingredients by common name (deltathion) and chemical name (1,2 phospho-(5)-4-chloromethane).
- Toxicity Signal Word: identifies the toxicity signal word (warning) which indicates that this product is moderately toxic to humans exposed to the chemical.
- EPA Registration Number (999-000) is a code number that identifies the product by number according to EPA’s product registration database. The first number (999) is specific to the company and the second (000) identifies the product. This number is very helpful when identifying the product if other parts of the label become unreadable.
- Precautionary Statements:
- Hazards to Humans and Domestic Animals: warns the users how to protect themselves, what the hazards are to the eyes, the skin, the respiratory system, or if swallowed. The label also prescribes first aid measures and information for a physician (Note to Physician). This information should be provided to your doctor if you are poisoned.
- Environmental Hazards: warn you about potential hazards to wildlife, to water from runoff and leaching, and to air from drift.
- Physical or Chemical Hazards: warn you that the product is flammable and may cause a fire if not handled properly.
- Directions for Use: indicate it is a violation of Federal (and State) law to use the product in a manner inconsistent with its label directions. Violation can mean fines and criminal penalties. It can also mean possible civil law suits from injured parties. Use directions also tell you how much to use, on what pest, and on what crops. These statements are critical since the product cannot be used on any other crops, especially food crops. Also, the rates are very specific to the product. They should be followed closely. The label also warns you not to apply the product to unusual varieties including several named in a special note. Application on these varieties could injure or kill these plants.
SPECIAL NOTE: EPA recently added a “bee advisory box” to pesticide labels. An example of this box follows the sample label. Applicators should use extra caution to avoid exposing beneficial insects, such as the honey bee, to pesticides. Applying pesticides to blooming plants or drifting pesticides to areas where pollinators feed or live is illegal and should be avoided. Our pollinators are in crisis, and impacting their habitats and food sources with pesticides is part of the cause. Use commonsense when using pesticides around all non-target organisms.