Certification Standards for Pesticide Applicators
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In 2017, EPA finalized stronger standards for people who use restricted use pesticides (RUPs). The revisions to the Certification of Pesticide Applicators (CPA) rule help ensure RUPs are used safely and reduce the likelihood of misapplication of RUPs.
The 2017 CPA final rule required states, territories, tribes and federal agencies (certifying authorities) with existing EPA-approved certification plans to submit proposed modifications by March 4, 2020 to comply with the federal standards. Plans in place before March 4, 2020 remain in effect until EPA approves the proposed plan modifications, or until those plans otherwise expire on November 4, 2022, whichever is earlier. In February 2022, EPA issued a proposed rule seeking public comment on the need for further extending the deadline up to but not longer than November 4, 2024. Read and comment on the proposed rule.
EPA has completed an initial review of all certifying authorities' proposed plan modifications submitted by March 4, 2020 and provided detailed feedback to all 56 State Lead Agencies (SLAs). EPA is currently collaborating with certifying authorities on resolving the Agency's comments so that plans may be ultimately approved.
EPA is tracking the progress of the review and approval of the proposed plan modifications made in response to the 2017 CPA final rule. Below is a table that represents the status of the 56 state and territory proposed plans.
Status of Certification Plan Review, Updated June 27, 2022
|Plans Submitted to EPA||Plans with Certifying Authorities||Plans Resubmitted to EPA||Approved Plans*|
|Description||EPA completed thorough reviews of certification plans and provided feedback to certifying authorities.||Certifying authorities are working on resolving EPA feedback.||EPA is reviewing the revisions made by certifying authorities in response to EPA feedback.||EPA has approved modified certification plans.|
|Number of Certification Plans (out of 56 States and Territories)||56||31||22||3|
*Approved plans identified here may not yet be published in a FR Notice.
Once EPA approves a modified plan, EPA will update this webpage and make an announcement via a Federal Register Notice (FRN). EPA intends to batch FRNs following EPA plan approvals. To find out which proposed plan modifications have been approved, please visit the Federal Register.
The revised rule:
- Enhances applicator competency standards to ensure RUPs are used safely.
- Establishes a nation-wide minimum age for certified applicators and persons working under their direct supervision.
- Establishes a maximum recertification interval of 5 years for commercial and private applicators.
- Requires specialized certifications for people using specific application methods (fumigation and aerial).
- Provides expanded options for establishing certification programs in Indian Country that acknowledge tribal sovereignty.
- Establishes protection for noncertified applicators by requiring training before they can use RUPs (under the direct supervision of a certified applicator). Noncertified applicators have to complete the training outlined in the rule, complete Worker Protection Standard handler training, or complete a program approved by the state.
- Clarifies and streamlines requirements for states, tribes, and federal agencies to administer their own certification programs, while granting flexibility to tailor programs to the needs of each state, tribe, or federal agency.
Each plan will have an implementation schedule agreed to by EPA and the state, tribe, territory, or federal agency administering the plan so that they and applicators are not required to comply with all new requirements immediately upon EPA’s plan approval.
States, tribes, territories, and federal agencies revised certification plans to comply with the updated rule requirements and submitted them to EPA by the March 4, 2020 regulatory deadline. Certification plans existing before March 4, 2020 remain in effect until EPA completes its reviews and approves revised plans, or until those plans otherwise expire, whichever is earlier. EPA acknowledges the challenges certification program authorities face to bring revised plans into compliance by the original March 4, 2022 deadline.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency and the need for careful review of program-specific issues and questions, EPA extended the date by which plans must be approved to November 4, 2022. Read the interim final rule.
In February 2022, EPA issued a proposed rule seeking public comment on the need for further extending the deadline up to, but not past, November 4, 2024. Read and comment on the proposed rule.
EPA has completed an initial review of all 56 proposed plan modifications submitted by March 4, 2020 and is making progress with certifying authorities on resolving the agency’s comments so that plans may be approved.
Who does this rule affect, and how?
There are approximately one million pesticide applicators in the United States certified to use RUPs and an estimate of 930,000 noncertified applicators. The rule impacts all applicators, including noncertified applicators who work under the direct supervision of a certified commercial or private applicator, commercial pesticide applicators and private pesticide applicators, such as farmers and ranchers.
The rule also impacts states and tribes that operate certification programs. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, four tribes, six territories, and four federal agencies administer certification programs for RUP applicators.
The federal minimum age is 18 for all pesticide applicators seeking certification and for persons using RUPs under the direct supervision of certified applicators. There is an exception for a minimum age of 16 for noncertified applicators using RUPs on a family-owned farm under the supervision of a private applicator who is a member of their immediate family.
The federal rule applies to restricted-use pesticides. EPA classifies the most acutely toxic pesticides or those needing to be applied with special care as RUPs, which means they may be bought and applied only by a certified applicator or someone working under his or her direct supervision. RUPs are not available for purchase or use by the general public.
State pesticide regulatory agencies issue certifications to pesticide applicators who demonstrate, under an EPA-approved program, that they can use the products safely. Many state pesticide regulatory agencies require applicator certification to use all pesticides commercially, whether or not they are RUPs.
EPA registers pesticides for use on specific sites and with specific limitations. For example, a product registered for use only on apples may not be used legally on grapes, or an insecticide registered for "outdoor use" may not legally be used inside a building.
Federal law requires any person who applies or supervises the use of restricted use pesticides (RUPs) to be certified in accordance with EPA regulations and state, territorial and tribal laws. To read more about how to get certified as a pesticide applicator, click here.
Do these changes affect pesticide use in and around my home by a professional pest control applicator?
Yes, the stronger certification standards are for pesticide applicators who are certified to apply RUPs, but also for applicators who use non-RUPs in states where certification is required for all commercial applicators.
How does EPA ensure the safety of pesticides? What kind of restrictions does EPA place on pesticide use?
EPA takes very seriously our duty to ensure that, when used according to label instructions, pesticides can be used safely. We rely on risk assessment processes to evaluate the potential for human health and environmental impacts from pesticide use, and to make decisions about pesticide regulation, both new and existing. New pesticides must be evaluated before they can enter the market. EPA uses extensive human health and environmental fate and effects data to determine specific requirements on the label. Existing pesticides must be re-evaluated periodically to ensure that they continue to meet current safety standards. Learn more about the pesticide registration process.
The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) is a cooperative agreement between EPA and Oregon State University that provides the public with objective, science-based information on pesticide-related subjects. You may contact the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) at 1-800-858-7378 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pesticide Safety Education Programs (PSEPs) provide pesticide applicator training on the safe use of restricted use pesticides by applicators in agricultural, commercial and residential settings. To find a PSEP near you, click here.