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Region 1: EPA New England

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a pesticide?
A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended to prevent, destroy, repel, or mitigate any pest. Pests can be insects, mice and other animals, unwanted plants (weeds), fungi, or micro-organisms like bacteria and viruses. Though often thought to refer only to insecticides, the term pesticide also applies to herbicides, fungicides, and other substances used to control pests. A pesticide is also any substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant.

Some common household 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
  • Lawn and garden products such as weed and insect killers
  • Some swimming pool chemicals

What should I do if someone in my family has swallowed a pesticide?
Follow the directions stated on the pesticide label. Call the Poison Control Center at: 1-800-222-1222. Have the pesticide label available to give the correct information to the operator. The Poison Control Center may then direct you to call your local health care facility or physician. If you want additional information about pesticides, the National Pesticide Telecommunication Network at: 1-800-858-7378.

How do I select a reputable exterminator?
Some pest problems go beyond the abilities of the homeowner or renter. Structural pests such as termites and carpenter ants and severe infestations of roaches or rodents may require the services of a licensed pest management specialist, known as, Pest Control Technicians (PCTs) or Pest Control Operators (PCOs). Most are listed in the yellow pages of your telephone directory, several have pages on the Internet.

Contact several companies to arrange for an inspection ,a cost estimate, and ask if they practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Once you have narrowed your list, you may contact your state lead agency (SLA) for pesticide regulation. for information regarding appropriate licensing, complaints or violations they may have investigated and have on file.

If you have performed ANY of your own pest management activities, tell the pest managment specialist, especially if you used pesticides. Let them know which pesticide product you used, where it was used, and how much. Tell the PCT if there are people in your home with special health conditions or if you have pets.

What should I do if someone in my family has swallowed a pesticide?
Read and follow the instructions on the pesticide label. Call your physician, Poison Control Center, or a local health facility. You can also call the National Pesticide Telecommunication Network at 1-800-858-7378; their telephones are manned 24 hours a day or the central hotline for U.S. Poison Control Centers at 1-800-222-1222.

What can I do if my neighbor's pesticide application has drifted onto my property?
Report this situation to your State Lead Agency. They will assess the situation and may conduct an on-site inspection.

State Agencies for pesticide misuse complaints/reports: CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT Click icon for EPA disclaimer. 

What is the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA)?
This 1996 Act amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and establishes a strong, health-based safety standard for pesticide residues in all foods. It uses "a reasonable certainty of no harm" as the general safety standard. It requires EPA to consider all non-occupational sources of exposure, including drinking water, as well as exposure to other pesticides with a common mechanism of toxicity when setting tolerances.

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