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Pesticide Worker Safety

Worker Protection Standard Application Exclusion Zone

An application exclusion zone (AEZ) is the area surrounding pesticide application equipment that exists only during outdoor production pesticide applications. The AEZ requirements found in the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) establish minimum exclusion zones around ongoing pesticide applications that workers and other people must be kept out of on the agricultural establishment.

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Proposed Updates to AEZ

In October 2019, EPA proposed narrow updates to the Worker Protection Standard regulation to improve the long-term success of the agency’s Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ) provisions. Upon publication of the Federal Register notice, EPA will accept public comments on the proposed revisions for 90 days in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0543.

View the prepublication version of the Federal Register notice containing the proposed updates.

The targeted updates would improve enforceability for state regulators and reduce regulatory burdens for farmers. It would also maintain public health protections for farm workers and other individuals near agricultural establishments that could be exposed to agricultural pesticide applications. The proposed updates are consistent with the newly enacted 2019 Pesticide Registration Improvement Act.

Specifically, EPA is proposing to:

  • Modify the AEZ so it is applicable and enforceable only on a farm owner’s property, where a farm owner can lawfully exercise control over employees and bystanders who could fall within the AEZ. As currently written, the off-farm aspect of this provision has proven very difficult for state regulators to enforce. These proposed changes would enhance both enforcement and implementation of the AEZ for state regulators and farm owners respectively. Off-farm bystanders would still be protected from pesticide applications thanks to the existing “do not contact” requirement that prohibits use in a manner that would contact unprotected individuals.
  • Exempt immediate family members of farm owners from all aspects of the AEZ requirement. This will allow farm owners and their immediate family members to decide whether to stay in their homes or other enclosed structures on their property during certain pesticide applications, rather than compelling them to leave even when they feel safe remaining.
  • Add clarifying language that pesticide applications that are suspended due to individuals entering an AEZ may be resumed after those individuals have left the AEZ.
  • Simplify the criteria for deciding whether pesticide applications are subject to the 25- or 100-foot AEZ.

Frequent Questions on AEZ

The vides and documents below provide general guidance to help you comply with the current AEZ requirements of the WPS for agricultural pesticides, 40 CFR part 170, as amended in 2015.

The following video provides a visual representation of an application AEZ. As the airplane moves across the field, or the area in green, the color changes to blue, indicating that the area has been treated and is subject to the restricted-entry interval (REI) specified on the pesticide product labeling and to the relevant Worker Protection Standard restrictions after applications.

This video provides a visual representation of an AEZ on field borders. To comply with WPS AEZ requirements you must suspend pesticide application if people are present. Then you must evaluate the situation and conditions and determine if you can resume the application without contacting anyone with the pesticide, either directly or through drift.

For complete information about the WPS rule requirements, refer to the final WPS rule.

Find additional information about the WPS.

For questions about how to comply with the WPS rule requirements, contact Ryne Yarger at yarger.ryne@epa.gov.

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