This section has been reviewed and updated as needed: May 2014
The University is committed to protecting employees and the environment by instituting a responsible pesticide program. The purpose of this program is to ensure that employees are adequately informed about the potential physical and health hazards of working with pesticides and the adverse affect pesticides can have on the environment if used improperly.
These requirements apply to all personnel who apply, transport or store pesticides on campus property. Outside agencies, contractors, or businesses that will be using pesticides as part of a contract with the University are to receive a copy of these requirements during their initial safety briefing.
The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requires that a restricted use pesticide be applied only by, or under the direct supervision of, a certified applicator. A restricted-use pesticide may be recognized by the presence of this block on the front panel of the label:
For retail sale to and application
Or Persons Under Their Direct supervision.
In North Carolina, all commercial pesticide applicators (ground and aerial), public operators, and pest control consultants must be licensed or work under a license applicator, regardless of whether they apply restricted use or general use pesticides. Individuals become certified by passing a comprehensive examination as required by the N.C. Pesticide Law of 1971. Once a satisfactory score has been achieved the individual will receive a pesticide license issued by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Section.. The N.C. Cooperative Extension Service is the primary source for providing training to prepare applicants for licensing examinations.
For Public operators no fee is required to obtain a pesticide license. Public operators include personnel who apply or supervise the application of pesticides for town, city, county, state or federal governmental agencies. The same training courses and tests are administered to both public operators and commercial pesticide applicators. Application for pesticide licensing (certification) is to be made to the Pesticide Section, North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Post Office Box 27647, Raleigh, North Carolina 27611.
Individuals engaged in structural (indoor) pest control are licensed by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Structural Pest Control Division under authority of the N.C. Structural Pest Control Act of 1955.
Licensed Pesticide Applicator
Licensing is required for individuals applying pesticides or supervising any type of pesticide application as part of their job. Licensed Pesticide Applicators are subject to recertification every 5 years, based on established requirements by the North Carolina Pesticide Board. Individuals may contact the Pesticide Section for complete details of the recertification program. Once an employee receives their annual license, they are required to provide the Health and Safety Office with a copy and each annual renewal license thereafter.
Employee applying Pesticide under an Licensed Applicator
The Licensed Applicator is required to train his or her employees on using, mixing, applying, storing, and disposing of pesticides as outlined in the Read Label section of this document. Employee signatures, date of class, outline of material covered, and signature of the Licensed Applicator are required to document this pesticide application training. Documentation of training is to be forwarded to the Health and Safety office.
Most pesticide accidents result from careless practices or lack of knowledge about safe handling of pesticides. The time employees spend reading the pesticide label will enable them to learn safe pesticide management procedures. Taking time to use pesticides properly is an investment in the health and safety of the employee, his or her family, and others.
The application of pesticides must follow the strict instructions on the container label. If applying a Special Local Needs (SLN) pesticide, applicators must have a copy of the label in their possession in order to apply. Personnel using pesticides shall use only those pesticides that have been registered by the EPA.
Reading The Label
Being familiar with the EPA-registered product label is the key to safe handling of pesticides.
Before choosing a pesticide, read the label to determine whether:
- the pesticide is the correct one for the job
- the pesticide can be used safely under the application conditions
Before mixing the pesticide, read the label and MSDS to determine:
- what protective equipment is to be used
- what the pesticide can be mixed with (compatibility)
- how much pesticide to use
- the mixing procedure
To reduce pesticide overuse and waste, always adhere to the mixing ratio on the label.
Before applying the pesticide, read the label to determine:
- what safety measures are to be followed
- where the pesticide can be used (livestock, crops, structures, etc.)
- how to apply the pesticide
- whether there are any restrictions for use of the pesticide
Before storing or disposing of the pesticide or pesticide container, read the label to determine:
- where and how to store the pesticide
- how to decontaminate and dispose of the pesticide container
- where to dispose of surplus pesticides
Questions concerning pesticide storage or disposal are to be directed to the University Health and Safety Office at 919-962-9752.
To alert pesticide users to the toxicity of a pesticide, a signal word will appear on the label. Signal words will tell the user whether the chemical is highly toxic, moderately toxic, or slightly toxic. There are three different signal words used on pesticide labels. Look for the signal word, prominently placed on the front panel of the label. The signal word will indicate what degree of hazard can be expected when handling the product.
- CAUTION means the product is relatively low in toxicity to the handler or applicator
- WARNING means the product is moderately toxic to the handler or the applicator
- DANGER, usually appears with the word POISON and a pictogram of the skull and crossbones, means the product is highly toxic to the handler or applicator
Routes of Entry
Pesticides can enter the body in three major ways:
- through the mouth (orally)
- through the skin and eyes (dermally)
- through the lungs (by inhalation)
People may be poisoned without realizing the seriousness of the exposure especially if pesticides enter through the skin and lungs.
Oral poisoning can be caused by:
- not washing hands before eating, drinking or smoking
- mistaking the pesticide for food or drink
- accidentally applying pesticides to food
- carelessly splashing pesticide into the mouth
Dermal poisoning can be caused by:
- not washing hands after handling pesticides or their containers
- splashing or spraying pesticides on unprotected skin or eyes
- wearing pesticide-contaminated clothing (including boots and gloves)
- applying pesticides in windy weather
- wearing inadequate protective clothing and equipment during mixing or application
Inhalation poisoning can be caused by:
- prolonged exposure to pesticides in closed or poorly ventilated spaces
- accidentally breathing vapors from fumigants and other toxic pesticides
- breathing fumes, dust, or mist during application without appropriate protective equipment
- inhaling fumes that may be present immediately after a pesticide is applied (reentering the area too soon)
- not having a good seal on the respirator or using an old or inadequate cartridge or canister
Acute and Chronic Exposure
Acute exposure is a single incident of exposure to a pesticide. Usually the symptoms of a poisoning begin quickly and leave little doubt about the cause of the illness. Acute exposure is usually due to an accident such as:
- splashing a pesticide into the mouth
- spilling or spraying a pesticide onto your clothing
- being contaminated by broken equipment
Chronic exposure is repeated exposure to pesticides over a period of time. Chronic exposure may go unnoticed since some pesticides may persist in the body for a long time without any obvious signs or symptoms of poisoning. If a person using the pesticide continues to be exposed to these pesticides, residues in their body may increase. An additional risk is that even low-level chronic exposure may lead to serious illness. Chronic exposure most often occurs in the workplace because of:
- faulty or inadequate protective clothing or equipment
- early reentry
- inadequate cleanup of clothing and body
- contaminated working conditions
Hazards Management Plan (HMP)
University employees who work with pesticides are to be covered by an HMP that describes in detail requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE), Storage and Disposal, Inventory, and Spill Response. The specific guidance for these sections follows:
Personal Protective Equipment
To prevent pesticides from entering the body, the person applying pesticides are to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE is to be provided to employees according to the guidelines on the pesticide label. The lack of any statement or the mention of only one piece of equipment does not rule out the need for additional protection. No safety recommendations can cover all situations. Knowledge of pesticide toxicity will allow employees to assess potential hazards and guide them in selecting the kind of protection needed. As with all types of PPE, it is important to inspect the equipment before and after each use.
Any time pesticides are handled, the user is to wear at least a long-sleeved shirt and long-legged trousers, or a coverall-type garment. Coverall-type garments are to be made of woven or laminated fabric, manufactured specifically for protecting skin exposures to chemicals. When handling pesticide concentrates or very toxic materials, a liquid-proof apron is also to be worn.
When handling concentrated or highly toxic pesticides, wear gloves. For liquid formulations, liquid-proof neoprene gloves are best. Gloves are to be long enough to protect the wrists. Gloves are not to be lined with any fabric. A fabric lining will absorb chemicals, which allows for potential dermal exposures. For most jobs, sleeves are to be worn outside of the gloves to keep pesticides from running down the sleeves and into the gloves. When working with your hands and arms overhead, put the gloves outside of the sleeves.
Wear something to protect the head. A wide-brimmed hat will help keep pesticides off the neck, eyes, mouth, and face. Some coveralls will include an attached protective hood. Hats are not to be made of cloth, leather or any material that will absorb pesticides. They are to be easy to clean or disposable. When using liquid pesticides, a liquid-proof hat is to be worn. Plastic “hard hats” with plastic sweatbands are liquid-proof and are cool in hot weather.
Shoes and Boots
While sturdy shoes and socks are sufficient for some pesticide applications, neoprene or rubber boots are a wise precaution. Many canvas, cloth, and leather shoes can readily absorb pesticides. When handling liquid concentrates or highly toxic pesticides (those with “Danger” on the label), neoprene or rubber boots are required. Wear unlined boots with trouser legs outside the boots so the pesticide will not run down the leg and collect in the boot.
Goggles or Face Shield
Wear liquid/chemical splash goggles or a face shield when there is any chance of getting pesticide in the eyes. Eyes readily absorb pesticides and may cause temporary blindness. Users may wear goggles alone or with a respirator.
Protective Clothing and Equipment Guide
|Formulation||Caution||Label Signal Word Warning||Danger|
|Dry||Long-legged trousers and long sleeved shirt; shoes and socks.||Long-legged trousers and long-sleeved shirt; shoes and socks; wide-brimmed hat; gloves||Long-legged trousers and long-sleeved shirt; shoes and socks; hat; gloves; appropriate respirator if dust in air or if MSDS or label precautionary statement says: “poisonous or fatal if inhaled.”|
|Liquid||Long-legged trousers; long-sleeved shirts; shoes and socks; wide-brimmed hat.||Long-legged trousers and long-sleeved shirts; shoes and socks; wide-brimmed hat; rubber gloves. Goggles if required by label precautionary statement. Respirator if label precautionary statement says: “Do not breathe vapors or spray mist” or “Poisonous if inhaled.”||Long-legged trousers and long-sleeved shirt; rubber boots; wide-brimmed hat; rubber gloves; goggles or face shield. Appropriate respirator if label or MSDS precautionary statement says: “Do not breathe vapors or spray mist” or “Poisonous if inhaled.”|
|Long-legged trousers; long-sleeved shirt; shoes and socks; wide-brimmed hat; gloves; rubber apron.||Long-legged trousers and long sleeved shirt; shoes and socks; wide-brimmed hat; rubber gloves; goggles or face shield; rubber apron. Respirator if label precautionary statement says: “Do not breathe vapors or spray mist” or “Poisonous (or fatal or harmful) if inhaled.”||Long-legged trousers and long-sleeved shirt; rubber boots; wide-brimmed hat; rubber gloves; goggles; rubber apron; appropriate respirator when recommended by MSDS or label.|
(prolonged exposure to spray, or application in enclosed area)
|Long-legged trousers and long-sleeved shirt; boot; rubber gloves; water proof wide-brimmed hat.||Water repellent, long-legged trousers and long-sleeved shirt; rubber boots; rubber gloves; rubber apron, water-proof wide-brimmed hat; face shield; cartridge or canister respirator.||Water-proof suit; rubber boots; water proof hood or wide-brimmed hat; face shield; appropriate respirator when recommended by MSDS.|
Storage and Disposal
Pesticides are to be stored in a location that is dry, adequately ventilated, and is free from fire hazards. The floor is to be made of easily clean material such as sealed cement. The storage location is to be marked with appropriate warning signs and secured to prevent unauthorized access. The pesticides are to be stored in their original containers that are labeled according to content and the containers are to be free from leaks. The storage site must have an immediate supply of clean water available in case of an emergency.
Pesticides must be disposed of through the Health and Safety Office. Pesticides are never to be disposed of in dumpsters, sinks, or drains of any kind. For assistance with disposal of pesticides contact the University Health and Safety Office at 919-962-9752.
In accordance to the University’s Hazards Communication policy, inventories of pesticides are to be kept current and maintained in Section III of the Hazards Management Plan, (Hazardous Materials Inventory) for the work unit/department. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are to be maintained in a notebook as a reference for all employees who are applying pesticides. The Health and Safety Office will inspect the information in the notebooks to ensure that the MSDSs are up to date and in a location that is readily accessible to employees.
In the event of a pesticide spill, whether it is accidental or the result of forces of nature, the employee who first becomes aware of the spill is to notify the Health and Safety Office immediately at 919-962-5507. The Health and Safety Office will activate the University’s Emergency Plan in order to contain the spill and prevent any potential exposures to employees or damage to the environment.
Recordkeeping of Restricted Pesticides
Licensed Applicators are required to maintain records of pesticide use and application for a period of three years from the date of the application of the pesticide. By maintaining good records, applicators can improve pest-control practices and efficiency. Pesticide records are to include the following information (see Appendix 13-A-1):
- Pesticide applicators name(s)
- Date material is applied and time of day
- Location and description of treated area
- Type of surface treated
- Target pest
- Equipment used
- Pesticide used
- Amount of formulation used
- Total amount of pesticide applied and the rate of application
- Size of treated area
These records are to be available for inspection by the Health and Safety Office and/or N.C. Pesticide Board or its agents at their request.