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Introduction to Pesticide Labels

Pesticide product labels provide critical information about how to safely and legally handle and use pesticide products. Unlike most other types of product labels, pesticide labels are legally enforceable, and all of them carry the statement: “It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.” In other words, the label is the law.

A key function of the pesticide product label is to manage the potential risks from pesticides. In support of that function:

  • state and federal agencies enforce pesticide label requirements;
  • educational programs certify pesticide users; and
  • pesticide users read and follow the label directions.

Regulation of Pesticide Labels

EPA requires extensive scientific data on the potential health and environmental effects of a pesticide before granting a registration, which is a license to market that product in the United States. EPA evaluates the data and ensures that the label translates the results of those evaluations into a set of conditions, directions, and precautions that define who may use a pesticide, as well as where, how, how much, and how often it may be used.

Requirements for pesticide labels are found in the Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR Part 156).

The Label Review Manual provides guidance for product management team members who are responsible for performing label reviews. In addition, it may be useful for state label reviewers, registrants and other individuals interested in producing readable, unambiguous, and enforceable pesticide labels. It compiles existing interpretations of statutory and regulatory provisions and reiterates existing Agency policies.

What is the difference between "label" and "labeling"?

Pesticide law (FIFRA section 2(p)) defines the terms as follows:

  • Label. The term “label” is defined as “the written, printed, or graphic matter on, or attached to, the pesticide or device or any of its containers or wrappers.”
  • Labeling. The term “labeling” is defined as “all labels and all other written, printed, or graphic matter: (a) accompanying the pesticide or device at any time; or (b) to which reference is made on the label or in literature accompanying the pesticide or device, except to current official publications of the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Departments of Agriculture and Interior, and the Department of Health and Human Services, State experiment stations, State agricultural colleges, and other similar Federal or State institutions or agencies authorized by law to conduct research in the field of pesticides”.

In these Web pages, we have used the term "label" for simplicity. Please read it to include other materials that are considered "labeling."