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Tribal Compliance Assistance Center

Pesticides and Toxics Management

Background Information
Purchasing Pesticides
Applying Pesticides
Worker Protection
Storing Pesticides
Disposing of Pesticides
Pollution Prevention

Background Information

EPA's Pesticide Web site and Tribal Pesticide Program Web site provides information about EPA's pesticide program. EPA's National Agriculture Compliance Assistance Center Web site is another useful resource.

Some tribal governments may engage in pesticide management, which includes applying, storing, and disposing of pesticides.

Because these activities could affect human health and the environment, they may be subject to federal environmental laws and regulations, as indicated in the following list:

Regardless of who is responsible for pesticide regulation, tribes should understand that misuse of a pesticide could cause damage to non-target species (i.e., humans, pets, or other animals and plants). Pesticide labels, which describe when and under what conditions pesticides can be applied, mixed, stored, loaded, or used, should be followed strictly to prevent indoor pollution and potential hazards to humans and animals. In addition, federal labeling requirements establish worker protection standards, which include information on restricted entry intervals after pesticide usage and personal protective equipment requirements.

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Purchasing Pesticides

Purchasing includes the acquisition of pesticides and the equipment used to mix, load, and apply pesticides. Although these purchases are generally not regulated directly by federal environmental laws, purchasing decisions can impact the environment. Restricted use pesticides, which may be highly toxic, must only be purchased and used by applicators certified as competent to handle such pesticides.

The purchase of pesticides sold in returnable containers will eliminate a tribe's need to dispose of the containers, which could be a regulated hazardous waste under RCRA; by returning the containers to the dealer, tribes also reduce their environmental footprint and risk. In addition, a tribe may elect to purchase certain types of equipment that apply pesticides more efficiently, thereby conserving resources, and reducing the environmental impacts of pesticide application. Tribes also need to keep abreast of timetables for pesticides being phased out under re-registration actions.

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Applying Pesticides

Pesticide application methods and practices depend largely upon the nature of the application. Pesticides may be applied indoors (e.g., housing units, schools, other buildings) or outdoors (e.g., solid waste management units, parks, aquatic uses, wetlands, open range, roadsides, right of ways, agriculture enterprises, recreational areas, and other tribal lands). Additionally, a wide range of household products contain pesticides, such as cockroach sprays and insect repellents, which can be applied without training as long as the label requirements are followed. However, "restricted use" pesticides can only be applied by certified individuals.

The hundreds of application methods available can be categorized into three major types:

Pesticides come in many forms, including gases, sprays, dusts, granulars, baits, and dips. Pesticide-related activities are primarily regulated under FIFRA, which requires that pesticide application occur in a manner consistent with product label instructions. All pesticide management operations must comply with federal pesticide use requirements unless EPA grants an emergency exemption from the requirements (40 CFR 166). The application of pesticides may also be regulated under the CWA if the tribal government develops BMPs that are included in its stormwater or wastewater discharge permit.

Applying Pesticides Indoors

Indoor pesticide application can occur in agricultural and non-agricultural areas and in any type of structural or industrial area requiring pest management, including grain silos. Applicators must follow label requirements for both general and restricted use pesticides. Applicators applying pesticides indoors must follow guidelines listed under 40 CFR 171, regulating the use of pesticides in, on, or around the following structures:

The potential environmental impacts from indoor pesticide application are air pollution and exposure of people, non-target animals, and plants.

Applying Pesticides Outdoors

Tribal governments may be responsible for supervising the use of restricted pesticides in the following areas or during the following activities:

EPA's Endangered Species Protection Program Web site provides more information on species protected from the dangers of pesticides.

Liquid spraying is one of the most common methods of applying pesticides to outdoor areas; it may be conducted by aerial spraying, tractor spraying, spray rigs, air blasters, hand spraying, or other liquid spray devices. The potential environmental impacts from outdoor pesticide application are human exposure and air, soil, and water contamination.

The application of certain pesticides may destroy or adversely affect endangered or threatened species of fish, wildlife, or plants, and their habitats. Tribal governments must comply with applicable requirements under the ESA. Tribal governments can work with EPA's Endangered Species Protection Program to learn more about the protection of endangered species from the use of pesticides.

Outdoor pesticide activities are regulated under the label requirements and application provisions of FIFRA. FIFRA also establishes worker protection standards designed to protect agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. These include posting warning signs in areas where pesticides have been applied, restricting entry intervals after pesticide usage, and requiring the use of personal protective equipment.

Cleaning Application Equipment

There is no way to completely remove all traces of a pesticide from application equipment, at the end of each application, several steps can be followed to protect the pesticide applicator, the environment, and to ensure that the equipment is left as clean as possible.

While there is no way to completely remove all traces of a pesticide from application equipment, at the end of each application, several steps can be followed to protect the pesticide applicator, the environment, and to ensure that the equipment is left as clean as possible. The steps are:

Depending on the type of application equipment, the following steps should be considered and used:

Certifying Applicators

Pesticide products are categorized as restricted, general use, or unclassified. A product is classified as a restricted use pesticide when the product meets certain criteria indicating that it poses a threat to humans, non-target organisms, or the environment, and labeling cannot sufficiently mitigate the hazard. For restricted use pesticides, special training in handling and applying the pesticide is necessary to ensure its safe use. Under FIFRA's regulations, the sale of restricted use pesticides is limited to certified applicators for use by those applicators or persons under their direct supervision. Applicators and supervisors of restricted use pesticides must be certified under Section 11 of FIFRA. Applicators who use restricted use pesticides must be certified to use pesticides by demonstrating competency in specified areas:

EPA's Restricted and Canceled Uses Web site provides more information and a list of restricted use pesticides.

The use of unclassified products is not limited in any manner, except in cases where a product label limits the use to a specific group (i.e., veterinarians).

Keeping Records

EPA's Worker Safety and Training Web site provides safety standards information and EPA's WPS Training site provides important training information.

Tribal governments who use certified pesticide applicators must keep and maintain various restricted use pesticide records. The records must include the types, amounts, uses, dates, and places of application of all restricted use pesticides. Tribes should keep records of the pesticide application method and pounds of pesticides use per acre and per crop. The records should also include information on the weather conditions and soil moisture when application occurred.

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Worker Protection

Pesticides are designed to (in most cases) kill pests. Many pesticides can also pose risks to people. EPA's Worker Protection Standard (WPS) are designed to protect agricultural workers from the effects of exposure to pesticides (40 CFR Part 170). The WPS standard is aimed at reducing the risk of pesticide poisonings and injuries among agricultural workers and handlers of agricultural pesticides. The WPS contains requirements for:

Training is essential for the proper use of pesticides and is key to the success of the WPS. To protect the health and safety of workers and handlers, employers are responsible for training them in the safe use of pesticides. Employers may either train their workers and handlers, or hire employees who have already been trained. Either way, employers must ensure that their employees understand the basic concepts of pesticide safety. Employees need to be trained by qualified trainers and must have the opportunity to ask questions during the training session.

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Storing Pesticides

EPA's Pesticides, Storage, and Disposal information for tribe businesses, household consumers, farmers, and other page provides additional information on these topics.

Tribal governments may be responsible for storing any unused or excess pesticides. The recommended procedures and criteria for proper storage apply to pesticides that are classified as highly toxic or moderately toxic and have DANGER, POISON, or WARNING written on their labels. FIFRA defines adequate storage as placing pesticides in proper containers and in safe areas to minimize the possibility of an accidental release that could result in adverse effects on the environment.

If pesticides are left unused, they must be properly stored to prevent any possible environmental damage.

Storage sites should be in a dry, well ventilated, separate area where fire protection is provided and special safeguards are in effect. . Identification signs should be posted to provide notice of the contents and hazardous nature of the pesticide. Potential environmental impacts from pesticide storage are air, soil, and water contamination from accidental releases, as well as human and animal toxic exposure. Because pesticides are typically stored in large quantities for future use, accidental releases may be large and have immediate, serious, and detrimental effects on the surrounding environment.

Temporary storage of highly toxic or moderately toxic pesticides may occur at isolated sites and facilities where it is unlikely they will encounter conditions that may cause a release. Each container should be stored with the label plainly visible, and the container should be inspected for corrosion and leaks. If a tribe stores or uses specified amounts of certain pesticides, it may be subject to the planning and reporting requirements of EPCRA and Section 112(r) of the CAA. These requirements are described below.

Risk Management Planning (CAA Section 112(R))

At present, EPA has established a list of 140 regulated substances that fall under the Risk Management Planning regulations of the CAA. These substances were published in the Federal Register on January 31, 1994; EPA amended the list by rule, published on December 18, 1997. EPA may further amend the list in the future as needed.

Under Section 112(r) of the CAA, facilities that any of 140 regulated substances in a single process are required to develop risk management programs and to summarize these programs in risk management plans by June 21, 1999 (40 CFR Part 68). EPA will notify the public of risk management plans, which are intended to prevent accidental releases of regulated substances and to reduce the severity of those releases that do occur. At present, EPA implements CAA section 112(R) for Indian country and will continue to do so in areas where tribes are not authorized under the Tribal Air Rule. EPA has been working with industry groups to develop model risk management programs. To review the model program, refer to EPA's Chemical Accident Prevention and Risk Management Planning Web site.

Notification of a Canceled or Suspended Pesticide

Under FIFRA, EPA or a registrant can cancel or suspend the registration of a pesticide or withdraw authorization for a specific use of a pesticide. In such situations, EPA will request that all entities having supplies of that pesticide notify the Agency. If a tribal government has any canceled or suspended pesticides, it must notify the EPA of the amount. EPA will respond with specific directions concerning handling of the pesticide.

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Disposing of Pesticides

Pesticide management includes the disposal of excess pesticides that cannot be stored for later use or are no longer needed. Pesticide disposal can involve incineration, chemical degradation, burial in a specially designated landfill, or well and soil injection. The potential environmental impacts from pesticide disposal are air, soil, and water contamination from releases and accidental exposure of humans and animals. The environmental implications are the same as for the application process, except that the concentration of the pesticide may be stronger because of the quantity and mass of the disposed pesticide. The disposal of pesticides is a critical process; if not properly conducted it can have immediate detrimental effects on the environment.

Pesticide labels outline proper disposal guidelines. FIFRA, RCRA, and the CWA all regulate these practices. Disposal activities may require notifying EPA or a local solid waste disposal facility (landfill or incinerator).

Before disposing of excess pesticide, the tribal government should consider two options:

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Pollution Prevention in Pesticide Management

Reduction in the use of pesticides in tribal government operations can be achieved by using Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM utilizes regular monitoring to determine if and when treatments are needed. It employs physical, mechanical, cultural, biological, and educational practices to keep pest numbers low. Least-toxic pest control methods are used as a last resort. These alternative methods result in decreased use of pesticides.

Many of the tips may not initially appear to be related to pesticide pollution prevention. However, the use of the tips will result in lowered reliance on pesticides by making plants healthier, and healthy plants are better able to withstand pest invasions. Although IPM reduces reliance on pesticides, some pesticide use may still be necessary. In these cases, pesticides should be used properly and safely.

Typical Wastes Generated

The following list presents typical waste generated during pesticide management and ways to handle them:

Top Pollution Prevention Opportunities

Reducing water runoff will prevent pesticides used on crops from leaching into the local water supply.

The following recommendations can help tribal governments achieve reductions in pesticide and herbicide applications Exit EPA Disclaimer and maintain regulatory compliance associated with chemical use, storage, and disposal.

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For related information visit EPA’s National Indian Country Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Priority site and EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program in Indian country site.

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