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Pesticide Devices: A Guide for Consumers

This guide for consumers explains key facts about pesticide devices and how they differ from registered pesticide products. If you are a device producer, registrant or need to know more than what is presented here, please see our Pesticide Registration Manual - Chapter 13 - Devices.

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What is a Pesticide Device?

Pesticides are commonly thought of as chemicals. But we also have a role in regulating devices used to control pests. How a device might be regulated, however, depends on the device's specific design and function and whether it is used with a pesticide. A pesticide device is:

Note: Medical instruments or machines used to kill pests in or on living humans or animals fall under the Food and Drug Administration’s jurisdiction.

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The Differences between Pesticide Devices and Pesticide Products and How They Are Regulated

Key differences between pest control devices, pesticide products and certain combinations can be summarized as follows:

Note: Pesticide application equipment that is sold separately from the pesticide itself is not a device or a pesticide. For example, a sprayer for a lawn herbicide that is sold separately from the herbicide is considered to be “application equipment,” which we do not regulate.

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Recognizing a Device by Reading the Label

A pesticide device that is EPA regulated will include an EPA Establishment Number on the label. It will not include an EPA Registration Number, which would only be found on pesticide products.

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Claims on Device Labels or Advertising

We don’t allow what are termed “false or misleading claims” to be made about the effectiveness of devices. If a manufacturer is making claims about a device, they should have scientific data to back up the claims.

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Other Information about Regulating Pesticide Devices

While we do regulate most pesticide devices, there are some that we do not regulate. For example, any device that depends more upon the performance of the user than the performance of the device itself to be effective (such as a fly swatter) is not regulated. Also, traps for vertebrate animals are not regulated.

As stated above, if a device incorporates a substance or mixture of substances to perform its intended pesticidal purpose, or is packaged together for sale with a pesticide, then it is considered a pesticide product and must be EPA registered.

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Examples of Regulated Pesticide Devices

Although these devices do not require registration as long as they don’t contain any pesticide product, they are regulated in that “false or misleading claims” cannot be made about the effectiveness of devices. If a manufacturer is making claims about a device, they should have scientific data to back up the claims.

Ultraviolet Light Units – kill, inactivate or suppress growth of fungi, bacteria or viruses.

ultra light unit
  • Water treatment units
  • Bactericidal lamps
  • Individual Water Purification Devices

Sound Generators – repel pests such as birds and mice

  • Carbide cannons – a device that emits a loud boom or blast at around 125 decibels.
  • Rotating devices – devices with rotating arms, often with solar-powered batteries to allow them to work at night.
  • High frequency sound generators
sound generator

Insect Traps – kill or entrap insects and similar pests

insect trap
  • Black-Light traps (for example, “bug zappers”)
  • Electronic/heat screens
  • Fly ribbons
  • Glue boards
  • Fly paper

Ground Vibrators – repel certain underground animals

ground vibrator
  • Mole thumpers
  • Pinwheel vibrators

Water Treatment Units – reduce or eliminate microorganisms from water

  • Certain drinking water filter-units (The filter in such a unit removes microbial pests by physical or mechanical means. However, if the unit contains any substance intended to disinfect the water, then the unit is a pesticide that must be registered.)
  • Certain pool and spa electrolysis units (Such units also must not contain a pesticidal substance intended to disinfect the water.)
  • Ozonator units
water treatment unit

Air Treatment Units – reduce or eliminate microorganisms or allergens

  • Air filter units
  • Air ionizer/electrolytic units
  • Air ozonation units
  • Air UV light units
air treatment unit

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Examples of Devices that EPA Does Not Regulate

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State Regulation of Devices

Some states require registration of devices that EPA does not regulate, or they may have other regulations that apply to devices. Check with your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a particular pest control device is required to be registered with your state. The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) lists contact information for the state agencies that regulate pesticides. Exit EPA disclaimer

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