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Introduction to Pesticide Incidents

EPA defines a pesticide incident as any exposure or effect from a pesticide’s use that is not expected or intended. Pesticide incidents may involve humans, wildlife, plants, domestic animals (e.g., pets) and bees. Pesticide spills can also be a type of incident.

Why Report Pesticide Incidents

Before registering a pesticide (i.e., licensing a pesticide for use), EPA must make a determination that the pesticide is safe for humans and the environment. Pesticide incident reports tell EPA if there are problems with a pesticide and any adverse effects on people, pets, domestic animals, wildlife, or the environment (air, soil, water). Reporting a pesticide incident helps provide EPA the most robust information on the effects and consequences of exposures to pesticides affecting people and the environment.

How EPA Uses Incident Reports

EPA considers incident information when evaluating the risks from exposure to a pesticide. Incident reports help EPA determine whether:

  • The pesticide’s application directions need to be clarified
  • We should restrict uses of the pesticide.
  • We should require additional protective safety equipment.

If risks associated with exposures to a pesticide cannot be reduced, EPA can remove it from the marketplace.

Sources of Pesticide Incident Information

EPA uses information related to pesticide incidents from a variety of sources, including:

  • The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC). Exit Anyone can contact NPIC for information on pesticides and to report possible pesticide incidents (e.g., general public, veterinarians, physicians, wildlife organizations). The NPIC program currently operates under a cooperative agreement between EPA and Oregon State University.
  • SENSOR-Pesticides. NIOSH’s Sentinel Event Notification System for Occupational Risk (SENSOR) is the only aggregated pesticide surveillance program in existence. Besides tabulating numbers of acute occupational pesticide-related cases, SENSOR-supported surveillance systems perform in-depth investigations for case confirmation and develop preventive interventions aimed at particular industries or pesticide hazards. The SENSOR-Pesticides program is useful for timely identification of outbreaks and emerging pesticide problems.
  • Manufacturers of pesticide products (also known as registrants). Pesticide manufacturers are required by law to submit to the EPA reports of adverse effects from their products.
  • American Association of Poison Control Centers. Exit AAPCC compiles information from state poison control centers.
  • Information submitted directly to EPA.
  • Voluntary reporting by the public through various methods.