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Competency Area 7: Using Pesticides in an Environmentally Sound Manner

PO 45. Recognize the general provisions of recent EPA regulations such as the Clean Water Act and Worker Protection Standards.

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) is the primary law that regulates how pesticides are produced, transported, sold, used, and disposed of. FIFRA also establishes the process for the registration and re-registration of pesticide products and directs the certification of pesticide applicators. All states, tribes, and territories must comply with FIFRA regulations and may establish additional pesticide regulations as long as they are not less stringent than the FIFRA requirements.

Other important pesticide-related laws include the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), the Worker Protection Standard (WPS), the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Clean Water Act. The FFDCA regulates the tolerances (i.e., the maximum amounts of pesticide residue) that may remain in human food and animal feed. Several government agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), test food and feed products to ensure they do not exceed legal tolerances. To set tolerance levels, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established a complex process that involves the review of many scientific studies. This process is necessary for ensuring the safety of food and feed products in the United States.

The WPS is a regulation aimed at reducing the risk of pesticide exposure to agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. Under this regulation, owners and operators of agricultural establishments or commercial businesses must comply with a list of requirements for establishing a safe work environment for employees. Pesticide safety training for all agricultural workers and pesticide handlers is one of the WPS requirements.

The ESA protects endangered or threatened species from harm, including any harm they might encounter from pesticides. Under the Endangered Species Protection Program, pesticide products that might adversely affect an endangered species must carry a statement instructing applicators to consult a county bulletin to determine if they must take any special measures to protect an endangered species when using the product. It is the applicatorís responsibility to obtain the bulletin and comply with the special precautions.

The Clean Water Act (CWA) is the cornerstone of surface water quality protection in the United States. The statute uses a variety of regulatory and non-regulatory tools to reduce direct pollutant discharges into waterways, finance municipal wastewater treatment facilities, and manage polluted runoff. The CWA made it unlawful to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained. These tools are employed to achieve the broader goal of restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters so that they can support "the protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and recreation in and on the water."