Pesticide Information:  Regulation, Safety, and Storage


Emergency Information

The poison control hotline for every U.S. state is: (800) 222-1222.

In Utah, the poison control center is the Utah Poison Control Hotline in Salt Lake City, and in Colorado, Montana, and Idaho, it is the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver.  The hotline is staffed 24/7 to provide treatment recommendations and referral to an emergency medical facility.

Restricted Use Pesticides and Obtaining a Pesticide Applicator License

The Environmental Protection Agency classifies certain pesticides, or uses of pesticides, as restricted if they could cause harm to humans or to the environment unless it is applied by applicators who have the knowledge to use these pesticides safely.  These are called Restricted Use Pesticides, and they are available for purchase and use only by certified pesticide applicators or persons under their direct supervision.

The EPA defines two categories of pesticide applicators:  private and commercial.  A private applicator is a person who uses (or supervises the use of) restricted use pesticides on agricultural lands owned or rented by that individual or his/her employer.  The private applicator may not apply restricted use pesticides on another person’s property if he/she is to receive monetary compensation.  A commercial applicator is defined as any person who uses or supervises the use of any pesticides for monetary compensation.  Both categories require an applicator’s license; however, the testing and recertification differ among the two.


Applicants can pick up study materials at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food in Salt Lake City and any UDAF District Field Office, or find pesticide education materials on the UDAF website. Make an appointment to take the exam, and allow 2 hours.  

Private applicators’ exams (general and agriculture) are open-book and the fee is $20 and the license lasts 3 years. To recertify, you can re-take the exams or obtain 6 total CEU units.

Commercial applicators’ exams cost $65, and the license lasts three years. Business owners must also obtain a license. The applicant must have 70% to pass. To recertify, you can re-take the exams or obtain 24 total CEU units.

Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

Division of Plant Industry
PO Box 146500, 350 North Redwood Road
Salt Lake City, UT  84114
(801) 538-7180


Applicants for private applicator license must pass the exam, and then request the license through the website or by phone, which costs $75 and is active for 3 years. To recertify, either retake the exam or earn 7 CEU credits.

Commercial applicator certification is required for all businesses plus employees that are applying restricted-use pesticides. Exams cost $31.50 each and the license costs $100 and lasts 3 years. To recertify, either retake the exams or earn the appropriate number of credits.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture

Division of Plant Industry
305 Interlocken Parkway
Broomfield, CO  80021
(303) 869-9000


Applicants can pick up study materials at the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) in Boise or at any ISDA regional office. Contact your local office to find out when the next available exam is offered in your area. Exams are $10 per attempt. Pre-trainings are offered by University of Idaho Extension and ISDA throughout Idaho. For registration information contact University of Idaho, (208)459-6365.

Private applicators’ exams (general and agriculture) are closed-book and the fee is $10.  The applicant must pass with 70% or higher, and the license lasts 2 years. To recertify, you can re-take the exams or obtain 6 total CEU units.

Commercial applicators’ exams cost $120, and the license lasts two years. The applicant must have 70% to pass the exam. To recertify, you can re-take the exams or obtain 15 total CEU units over the course of two years.

Idaho State Department of Agriculture Pesticide Licensing

Pesticide Licensing
P.O. Box 790, Boise, ID 83701
2270 Old Penitentiary Road
Boise, ID  83712
(208) 332-8500


Applicants can contact the Montana Department of Agriculture for study materials and to find available exam times in their area. Pre-license trainings are offered by the Montana Department of Agriculture.

Private applicators must either pass a graded written exam from a local office of the Montana State University (MSU) Extension Service or attend a training course provided by MSU Extension Service and take an ungraded written exam. The fee for the private applicator license is $60 and the license is effective for five years. To recertify, the applicator must acquire 6 CEU units in five years by attending approved training courses.

Commercial applicators’ licenses cost $85 per year, $25 per operator for the first 2 operators, and $10 per operator for each additional operator. All applicants must meet liability requirements for commercial applicators and have an 80% in both the core and category-specific section exams to obtain a license. Licenses must be renewed anually.

Montana Department of Agriculture Pesticide Licenses

Agricultural Services Bureau
302 N Roberts
Helena, MT  59601
(406) 444-5400

Pesticide Record Keeping

Federal laws requires that private and commercial applicators maintain pesticide records for all applications of restricted use products for at least two years.  The laws are enforced through the state departments of agriculture.  Applicators can develop their own format for record-keeping.  Spray dates must be recorded within 14 days after the application is made, and must include:

  1. Name and address of property owner
  2. Location of treatment site, if different from above, crop treated, and size of area
  3. Target pest
  4. Exact date of application
  5. Brand name and EPA registration number of pesticide used
  6. Total amount of product applied
  7. Name and license number of the applicator

Because Worker Protection Standards require worker notification of all pesticide applications, it is recommended that comparable records be kept of all pesticide applications.  This will also enable the grower to complete a listing of pesticides used at the time of harvest.  Packing sheds and processors are increasingly requiring pesticide usage lists.

EPA Worker Protection Standard

EPA’s Worker Protection Standard (WPS) for agricultural pesticides is a regulation aimed at reducing the risk of pesticide poisonings and injuries among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. The WPS offers protections to agricultural workers and pesticide handlers.  The WPS contains requirements for pesticide safety training, notification of pesticide applications, use of personal protective equipment, restricted-entry intervals after pesticide application, decontamination supplies, and emergency medical assistance.

Avoiding Drift, Runoff, Spills

Pesticides that enter the environment can cause injury to humans, animals, and non-target plants.  Whenever sprays are necessary, only apply when weather conditions are appropriate, application equipment is properly calibrated, and pesticide formulation, droplet size, and adjuvants are used to minimize drift and runoff. 

Utah's Groundwater and Pesticide Program

Approximately half of the groundwater withdrawn from wells in Utah is used for agriculture.  Slightly less than half of the population of Utah depends on groundwater as a source of drinking water.  In 1997, The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food enacted the Groundwater/Pesticide State Management Plan. The plan outlines steps towards protecting groundwater from pesticide contamination and response to a pesticide detection in groundwater.

If a pesticide has been detected in groundwater, then a groundwater monitoring plan will be implemented in the area to determine the extent and, if possible, the source of pesticide contamination.  The UDAF will work with the landowner to prevent further groundwater contamination. A number of different farming practices, called Best Management Practices (BMPs), and simple devices can significantly reduce the possibility of pesticides entering the system.  BMPs will be required by the EPA as a condition of future use of the pesticides.

The EPA has identified five broad-spectrum herbicides to monitor, due to their high potential to leach into groundwater and to be a possible detriment to public health, safety, and the environment.  The pesticides are: alachlor, atrazine, cyanazine, metolachlor, and simazine.  Each has been detected in groundwater in several states, with some detections exceeding drinking water standards.

Pesticide Storage and Disposal

In general, pesticides should always be stored in a safe location.  The storage facility should be kept locked so that children and other unauthorized people cannot enter and be exposed to pesticide hazards.  All pesticides should be kept in their original containers, closed tightly, and with their original labels.  If the label has come off or is coming off, paste or tape it back on.  All pesticides should be protected from excessive heat, and liquid pesticides should be stored in an area protected from freezing.

Growers are urged to review their annual pesticide needs and stocks on hand well in advance of the growing season to prepare for disposal of unused product.  Pesticide purchases should be based on the amount projected for use within any given season.  Empty containers should be triple-rinsed and drained; they often can then be disposed of through regular trash collection, but be sure to check the label and local regulations.  

Never dispose of pesticides or containers by dumping them into the sewer, sink, or toilet.  Municipal water treatment practices remove little of the pesticides, and such careless disposal can contaminate waterways and is subject to penalties.  The best means to dispose of such pesticides is to use them up according to their labeled instructions.  

Utah, Idaho, Colorado, and Montana departments of agriculture occasionally hold pesticide disposal drop-offs with no questions asked. The Idaho Department of Agriculture offers a free program to chip clean, empty plastic containers (pesticide or fertilizer).  The containers must be triple rinsed. The CROP truck comes to the site or a central location and chips HDPE #2 plastic. The chipper equipment can handle containers up to and including whole 5 gallons. 

In Montana, the disposal fee is free for the first 200 pounds and $0.50/lb beyond that weight. More information can be found at here.

Orchard-Use Pesticides From the EPA's List of Extremely Hazardous Substances

Chemical Name Threshold Planning
Quantity (lbs a.i.)
Reportable Quantity
(lbs a.i.)
Formulating Amounts
Containing 1 lb a.i.
paraquat (Gramoxone)  10  1  2 qts Gramoxone Super
phosmet (Imidan)  10  1  2 lbs Imidan 50WP
oxamyl (Vydate)  100  1  2 qts Vydate 2L
dimethoate (Cygon)  500  10 ---
methomyl (Lannate)  500  100 ---

EPCRA & The Fruit Grower

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-know Act was enacted in 1986 and requires that any facility that stores chemicals identified by the EPA as “Extremely Hazardous Substances” (EHS) provide a report when storage or accidental spill of an EHS occurs over a given threshold.  The report is used in local community emergency planning and to provide local governments and residents access to information about specific chemicals.

Fruit growers should be aware of this reporting requirement because some of the EHS materials on the list are used as orchard pesticides.  The table on the previous page lists those pesticides where storage amounts and threshold spill level require reporting.

The storage limit of an EHS pesticide is called the Threshold Planning Quantity (TPQ), given in amount of active ingredient.  The limit for an accidental spill is referred to as the Reportable Quantity (RQ).

When a farm facility exceeds a storage limit (TPQ), or has an accidental spill (RQ), the information must be reported within 60 days (Tier 1 report).  In addition, an annual report (Tier II report) is also due every March 1 only if a Tier 1 report has been filed.  EPA offers reporting software.  

The farm facility is responsible for distributing reports to the state, local emergency planning committee, and local fire departments.  To determine exactly where and how to distribute reports, contact the following for Utah, Colorado, Idaho, or Montana:


Utah Division of Env. Response and Remediation

195 North 1950 West
P. O. Box 144810
Salt Lake City, Utah  84114-4840
Mike Zucker (801) 536-4143
Brent Everett (801) 536-4100


Colorado Dept of Public Health & Environment

SARA Title III -- Tier II Reports, OEIS - B2
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, Colorado  80246-1530
(303) 692-2000


University of Idaho Environmental Health & Safety

875 Perimeter Drive
Moscow, ID  83844
(208) 885-6524


Montana Dept of Agriculture Pesticide Compliance and Enforcement

302 N Roberts
Helena, MT  59601
Leonard Berry, Compliance and Enforcement Supervisor (406) 444-5400