EPA regulates the sale, distribution, and release of pesticides, pesticide products, and pesticide devices under FIFRA. Some states and some federally recognized Indian tribes also have their own pesticide laws that supplement FIFRA.
In general, under FIFRA, it is against the law to sell unregistered, misbranded, suspended, or canceled pesticides in the United States. This means that if someone tries to sell via the Internet a pesticide product or device that is mislabeled, not registered, or no longer registered, that person could be breaking the law and subject to civil or criminal penalties, including fines.
Before a company or individual can sell or distribute any pesticide in the United States, EPA must review data on the pesticide to determine that it will not pose unreasonable risks to human health or the environment. Once EPA has made that determination, it will license or register that pesticide for sale, distribution, or use in accordance with label directions.
All label language must be approved by EPA before a pesticide can be lawfully sold or distributed in the United States. The overall intent of the label is to provide directions for product use while managing risks to human health and the environment. It is a violation of federal law to use a pesticide in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.
Any material, whether naturally derived or not, that is sold or distributed with the intent to control or eliminate any pest (weeds, insects, microorganisms, etc.) is classified as a pesticide. By their very nature, pesticides create some risk of harm to humans, animals, or the environment because they are designed to kill or otherwise adversely affect living organisms. Many household products are pesticides. EPA has developed a web site titled What Is a Pesticide? to help people determine what is considered a pesticide under federal law. The list below describes some common products that are pesticides.
- Cockroach sprays and baits
- Insect repellents for personal use
- Rat and other rodent poisons
- Flea and tick sprays, powders, and pet collars
- Kitchen, laundry, and bath disinfectants and sanitizers
- Products that kill mold and mildew
- Many lawn and garden products, such as weed killers, fungicides, and insecticides
- Some swimming pool chemicals, such as sanitizers and disinfectants
- Chinese Chalk, and insecticidal chalk products often imported from China
While there are a few exemptions, most pesticides require registration with the U.S. EPA and any state in which they are sold or distributed. Even advertising products or materials that may be classified as pesticides can be construed as offering the pesticide for sale.
It is the seller's responsibility to ensure that the pesticide is registered and labeled according to federal standards before offering it for sale over the Internet. The seller must comply with applicable state laws as well.
The following important points should be considered:
- Federal and State Law: EPA administers the federal pesticide law, and each state has a pesticide law that further restricts and/or clarifies local administration of pesticide commerce. BOTH levels of law must be followed.
- Distribution: Actual distribution of pesticides is regulated by both EPA and the states.
- Dealer Licensing: Many states also require that all pesticide dealers operating in that state be licensed. This includes any web site that advertises or offers for sale a pesticide or pesticidal product within the state, whether or not the site is physically located in the state. In addition, most states require sellers to comply with the various state laws regulating the offer and sale of pesticides even if they do not take actual, physical possession of the products offered for sale (such as through auction sites or electronic brokerage).
- Certified Applicators: Many pesticides (often called Restricted Use Products or RUPs) require sellers and/or buyers to be licensed or certified by the state agencies where either party may reside. Some states require that sellers and/or buyers not physically located in the state, but conducting business there, must be licensed or certified as well.
- Records: Many states require that transaction records be kept and regular reports of transactions be submitted. Under federal and state law, these records must be available for review by duly authorized inspectors at all times.
It is beyond the scope of this topic to summarize all the requirements of federal and state pesticide law.
More information from EPA
Information for Pesticide Exporters
Federal Pesticide Links
- Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)
- EPA Office of Pesticide Programs
- EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection
- Border Compliance Web site
The border center's site provides information for importing and exporting a variety of chemicals, including toxic substances, pesticides, and hazardous waste.
EPA Regional Pesticide Programs
- Region 1 (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT)
- Region 2 (NJ, NY, PR, VI)
- Region 3 (DE, MD, PA, VA, WV, DC)
- Region 4 (AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN)
- Region 5 (IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI)
- Region 6 (AR, LA, NM, OK, TX)
- Region 7 (IA, KS, MO, NE)
- Region 8 (CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, WY)
- Region 9 (AZ, CA, HI, NV, Guam, American Samoa)
- Region 10 (AK, ID, OR, WA)