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Competency Area 5: Pesticide Formulations and Labels

PO 37. Identify and locate the kinds of information found on a pesticide label.

Brand, Trade, or Product Names
Each manufacturer has a brand name for their product. Different manufacturers may use different brand names for the same pesticide active ingredient. The brand name shows up plainly on the front panel of the label.

Every use of every pesticide will be classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as either "general" or "restricted." Every pesticide product which has been restricted must carry this statement in a prominent place at the top of the front panel of the pesticide label: "RESTRICTED USE PESTICIDE. For retail sale and use only by certified applicators or persons under their direct supervision and only for those uses covered by the certified applicator's certification." Your state lead agency has the authority to deem a product as restricted use. When a product has been restricted by a state, the "restricted use" statement will not appear on the label. Contact your state lead agency for the list of state restricted use products.

Ingredient Statement. Each pesticide label must list what is in the product. The list is written so that you can see quickly what the active ingredients are and the amount (in percentage) of each ingredient listed.
Chemical Name
The chemical name is a complex name, which identifies the chemical components and structure of the pesticide. This name is almost always listed in the ingredient statement on the label. For example, the chemical name of Sevin 50% WP is 1-naphthyl methyl carbamate.
Common Name
Because pesticides have complex chemical names, many are given a shorter "common" name. Only common names which are officially accepted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may be used in the ingredient statement on the label.
Type of Pesticide
The type of pesticide usually is listed on the front panel of the pesticide label. This short statement usually indicates the kind of pests that the product will control.
            • Insecticide for control of certain insects on fruits, nuts, and ornamentals.
            • Soil fungicide.
            • Herbicide for the control of trees, brush, and weeds.
            • Algaecide

Name and Address of Manufacturer
The law requires the maker or distributor of a product to put the name and address of the company on the label.
Registration and Establishment Numbers
These numbers are needed by the pesticide applicator in case of accidental poisoning, claims of misuse, faulty product, or liability claims.
Signal Words and Symbols
Almost every label contains a signal word that will give you a clue to how dangerous the product is to humans. Knowing the product's hazard helps you to choose the proper precautionary measures for yourself, your workers, and other people (or animals) that may be exposed. The signal word must appear in large letters on the front panel of the pesticide label. It usually is next to the statement, "Keep Out of Reach of Children" which must appear on every pesticide label.

DANGER Any product, which is highly toxic orally, dermally, through inhalation, or causes severe eye or skin burning, will be labeled DANGER. All pesticides which are highly toxic orally, dermally, or through inhalation will also carry the word POISON printed in red and the skull and crossbones symbol.

If a pesticide receives a highly toxic rating because of the possibility for corrosive damage to the skin or eyes, the signal word DANGER will be on the label without the word POISON.

WARNING Any product which is moderately toxic orally, dermally, or through inhalation or causes moderate eye and skin irritation, will be labeled WARNING.

CAUTION Any product which is slightly toxic to relatively non-toxic orally, dermally, or through inhalation or causes slight eye and skin irritation, will be labeled CAUTION.

Precautionary Statements.
All pesticide labels contain additional statements to help you decide the proper precautions to take to protect yourself, your helpers, and other persons (or domestic animals) which may be exposed.

Hazards to Wildlife
The label may indicate that the product causes undesirable effects in the environment. In this case, the precautionary statement may tell you what to avoid doing. Some labels indicate toxicity to bees, birds, fish and crustaceans. Labeling may indicate limitations imposed to protect endangered species. These limitations may include reduced rates, restrictions on types of application, or a ban on the pesticide's use within the species range. The label may also tell you where additional information can be obtained.

Protective Clothing and Equipment Statements
Pesticide labels vary in the type of protective equipment statement they contain. You should follow all advice on protective clothing or equipment, which appears on the label.

Environmental Hazards
Pesticides may be harmful to the environment. Some products are classified RESTRICTED USE because of environmental hazards alone. Label warnings may include groundwater advisories and protection information. Look for special warning statements on the label concerning hazards to the environment.

Special Toxicity Statements
If a particular pesticide is especially hazardous to wildlife, it will be stated on the label. E.g.:
• This product is highly toxic to bees.
• This product is toxic to fish.
• This product is toxic to birds and other wildlife.
These statements alert you to the special hazards that the use of the product may pose. They should help you choose the safest product for a particular job and remind you to take extra precautions.

General Environmental Statements
These statements appear on nearly every pesticide label. They are reminders of common sense actions to follow to avoid contaminating the environment. The absence of any or all of these statements DOES NOT indicate that you do not have to take adequate precautions. Sometimes these statements will follow a "specific toxicity statement" and provide practical steps to avoid harm to wildlife.

Examples of general environmental statements include:
         • Do not apply when runoff is likely to occur.
         • Do not apply when weather conditions favor drift from treated areas.
         • Do not contaminate water when cleaning equipment or disposing of wastes.
         • Keep out of any body of water.
         • Do not allow drift on desirable plants or trees.
         • Do not apply when bees are likely to be in the area.
         • Do not apply where the water table is close to the surface.

Physical or Chemical Hazards
This section of the label will tell you of any special fire, explosion, or chemical hazards the product may pose. For example:
            • Flammable; Do not use, pour, spill, or store near heat or an open flame. Do not cut or      weld container.
            • Corrosive; Store only in a corrosion-resistant tank.

Storage and Disposal
All pesticide labels contain general instructions for the appropriate storage and disposal of the pesticide and its container. State and local laws vary considerably, so specific instructions usually are not included.

Directions for Use
Correct application of a pesticide product is accomplished by following the use instructions found on the label. The use instructions will tell you:
            • The pests which the manufacturer claims the product will control.
            • The crop, animal, or site the product is intended to protect.
            • In what form the product should be applied.
            • The proper equipment to be used.
            • How much to use.
            • Mixing directions.
            • Compatibility with other often-used products.
            • Phytotoxicity and other possible injury or straining problems.
            • Where the material should be applied.
            • When it should be applied.
            • Labels for agricultural pesticides often list the least number of days which must pass between the last pesticide application and crop harvest, slaughter, or grazing livestock. These are intervals set by EPA to allow time for the pesticide to break down in the environment. This prevents illegal residues on food, feed, or animal products and possible poisoning of grazing animals. This information may appear as a chart or it may be listed just after the application.

Pesticide Label