Reading Pesticide Labels
Why is it important to read pesticide labels before using pesticides?
Pesticide labels contain detailed information on how to use the product correctly and legally. Labels also contain information on potential hazards associated with the product and instructions you should follow in the event of a poisoning or spill. Following label instructions will allow you to minimize the risks and maximize the benefits.
Keep these tips in mind:
- Always read the label carefully before you buy a product and make sure the product is intended for your specific use.
- Use the appropriate amount of pesticide for your job. Applying more pesticide than the label directions indicate can waste money and may harm people, pets or the environment. It may even be less effective at controlling the pest.
- Do not assume a pesticide purchased for one type of treatment can be used in another setting without first checking the label; many pesticides have similar names and ingredients despite being intended for very different uses.
- Buy only what you need. Storing and disposing of leftover pesticides can lead to unnecessary risks. Review the storage and disposal section of the label for information on how the product should be stored and disposed of, including the empty container.
- Re-read the label before using or re-using a pesticide, don't rely on your memory.
- Do not use pesticides in any manner other than those specifically listed on the label; it is against the law.
- Never remove a pesticide label from the container, or use unlabeled pesticides.
- Store all pesticides safely out of reach of children and pets.
Pesticide labels answer the following questions:
- Ingredients: What's in the product?
- Signal word: How toxic is the product?
- Precautionary statements: How can the product be used safely?
- First aid information: What should I do if it gets in my eyes, mouth, lungs or on my skin?
- Environmental hazards: What special restrictions are placed on this product to protect the environment?
- Personal protective equipment (PPE): What should I wear? Should I use gloves when I use this product?
- Directions for use: How and where should I use the product? How much is okay?
- Storage and disposal: How does the product have to be stored? What should I do with leftovers that I don't need?
- Manufacturer's contact information: How can I get in touch with the company?
- Phone number: Where can I get more information about this product?
- EPA Registration number: What is the unique product number?
If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More Information on Pesticide Labels:
- Pesticide Product Labels - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Pesticide Labeling Questions & Answers - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Interactive Pesticide Label - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Why Read Labels - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brochure
- "Read the Label First" campaign - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Read the Label First! Protect Your Kids - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brochure
- Read the Label First! Protect Your Household - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brochure
- Read the Label First! Protect Your Garden - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brochure
- Read the Label First: Protect Your Pets - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brochure
- Consumer Labeling Initiative - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Understanding Pesticide Labels - University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
- Harvest Is...(Defining Preharvest Intervals) - Colorado Environmental and Pesticide Education Program (CEPEP)
- Signal Words Topic Fact Sheet - NPIC
- "Inert" or "Other" Ingredients Topic Fact Sheet - NPIC
- Pesticide Formulations Topic Fact Sheet - NPIC