Other/Inert Ingredients in Pesticides
Other ingredients are not named on product labels for EPA-registered pesticides. That is because their identity is considered "confidential business information." Until 1997, other ingredients were always called "inert" ingredients, in contrast to "active ingredients." Both terms are found on product labels today.
While many of the chemicals that are used as other ingredients are not known to pose health or environmental risks, some of them can be toxic. In some cases, the other ingredients can pose greater risks than the active ingredient itself. Although the other ingredients are not listed on the label, the signal word on the label indicates the toxicity of the formulated product (active and other ingredients combined).
Some facts about other ingredients:
- Other ingredients may do a variety of jobs such as increasing shelf-life, attracting the pest, and spreading the product more evenly on surfaces.
- Some recognizable other/inert ingredients are kerosene, propane and other petroleum products, wintergreen oil, peanuts, beeswax and salt.
- There are maximum residue limits (tolerances) for other ingredients that are used on food.
- You can browse a list of other ingredients that are registered for non-food use.
- The same chemical might be an active ingredient in one product and an other ingredient in other products.
- Only certain other ingredients are allowed to be used in Minimum Risk Pesticides and pesticides for organic production systems.
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.
Additional Resources on Other/Inert Ingredients:
- Inert Ingredients Permitted in Pesticide Products - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Rulemaking Underway Related to Disclosure of All Pesticide Ingredients - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- PR Notice 97-6: Use of Term "Inert" in the Label Ingredient Statement - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Inert Ingredients - Reassessment Decision Documents - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Videos demonstrate the difference that surfactants make - U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- Inert Ingredients Permitted for Use in Nonfood Use Pesticide Products - U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Minimal Risk Inert Ingredients Eligible for FIFRA 25(b) Pesticide Products - U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- National Organic Program (NOP) Inert Ingredients List - U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)