Introduction to Pesticide Labels

Despite that the topic about pesticide label looks too straightforward to dedicate a whole section of an article to; however, research has proven that consumers experience difficulty in reading and applying pesticide safely.

If you are a practicing farmer, there is a high probability that you have been in this shoe at one time or the other.

Thus, we have created this article solely to enlighten you on how to understand pesticides through the label better.

Also, we have provided you with all the essential information you need to know about the pesticide label. I sincerely hope you find this guide useful to your farming career. Happy reading!

Classification of pesticides

There are four classes of pesticides based on the intended use. They include

  • Domestic
  • Commercial
  • Manufacturing and
  • Restricted

Whichever category a pesticide product belongs is a function of the level of hazards the pesticide product release to the environment. It also provides the details on measures to take during transportation and storage.

Another way we can classify pesticide is through what we use them for. Some examples of pesticides are herbicides, insecticide, acaricide, fungicide, nematicide, bacteriacide, etc.

What is a pesticide label?

Pesticide label is a piece of information attached to the pesticide container which bears all the details about such pesticide, its application, the active ingredients, and the targeted pests.

Pesticide labels provide you with substantial information about the safety and proper handling and use of a pesticide for pest control.

In contrast to several other labels, pesticide product labels are legally binding. This implies that you may be prosecuted if you use a pesticide product for other purposes rather than its natural use in pest control.

Failure to comply with this regulation may lead you to face the law.

Countries handle the punishment associated with the use of pesticide products especially in harming others.

Notwithstanding, every country frowns at using pesticides to effect heinous crime.

To make you understand it better, the label in itself is a law!

Stakeholders in Pesticide Label design and use

Pesticide label supply critical information about the product, correct usage, and warns against potential health and environment hazards that may arise from using such product.

This will help you to be better prepared in case of any unforeseeable accidents.

Here are some of the key stakeholders and their roles in regulating pesticide labels in the United States. It is different from countries to countries.

Federal and state agencies impose pesticide label requirement

Educational programs officers certify pesticide users

Pesticide users read and diligently follow the instruction printed on the label

How pesticide regulation is made

Before you can be granted access for pesticide registration in the US and other top countries, EPA will require you to carry out in-depth research on the likely health and environment impact of the particular pesticide

The regulating bodies are tasked with evaluating data and ascertaining that evaluation results were set in the best conditions. Also, they will assess the cost of the pesticide and how long it will take before its declared save to enter the venue of application.

The Label Review Manual

The requirements for pesticide labels differ across all countries. However, you can find the guide that guides members of the project management team who have the responsibility of conducting label reviews in the label review manual.

Labels must be easy to read, clear, concise and perfectly communicate the product information to you as a user.

How do I know how toxic a pesticide is?

Sometimes, we get curious to know how toxic a pesticide is. In another occasion, we feel like testing our secondary school chemistry in determining the level of toxicity of pesticides.

On no accounts must you test pesticide on livestock or other animals other than the pest recommended in the label. Failure to comply with this can lead to prosecution.

You will see information on how toxic a pesticide product is on its label.

However, in a case where additional information is required, some pesticides come with leaflet. Do well to read it carefully.

Understanding the difference between label and labeling

Sometimes, we are confused as to what distinguishes label from labeling. They sound similar, right? Their meanings are very different.

Now, let’s see the difference between the two words.

According to Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA),

A label is any written, printed or graphic matter on, or attached to the pesticide or device or any of its containers and wrappers.

Labeling, on the other hand, includes all labels written, printed or graphic matter that accompanies the pesticide to which reference is made on the label.

Why you must read a pesticide label

As stated earlier, a lot of us are guilty of failing to read and understand the information on the pesticide label correctly.

This is not because you are illiterate or because you have no time read. Often, it is because you are overconfident, and get swayed by your experience in the application of different pesticide products.

However, it is imperative for you to read the label.

Before you select a pesticide product, ensure to read the label to see if it is suitable for your region and the soil type.

Also, while mixing the product, read the label to be double-sure that you do not miss out on any procedures.

Here are some of the benefits of reading pesticide labels

  • Maximum control of the targeted pest
  • Prevention of health hazard from these harmful compounds
  • Improved effectiveness of pesticide
  • Guide against the waste of money in purchasing or using the wrong product or quantity.
  • A better understanding of the pesticides best situated to your farm
  • Protection of the environment including beneficial pests and water bodies

Common Terms Used in Pesticides Labels

You may be quite unfamiliar with some words you will often come across on the pesticide label. While we will do justice to that later, let us examine briefly the forms that pesticides take.

Liquid or flowable: mixable with water, sprayed with a sprayer

Emulsifiable concentrates: oil-based fluid, readily mix with water and sprayed on affected crops

Soluble powder: dissolvable in water, easily sprayed

Dust: doesn’t require mixing, can be applied dry

Solution: ready to use liquid, frequently exists in bottles

Aerosol: comes in a can, exists as gases, prepared to be sprayed

Granules: Like dust, it doesn’t require mixing too

What you need to know about pesticide labels

*Brand Name

The brand name features at the front of the label, and it is used in the identification of the manufacturer’s product. For example, when you see names as Force-up or Round-up on a product, which is the brand name.

However, even if you observe that two products have similar or the same active ingredient, their brand names may be different entirely. This is dependent on the company that registered the product. Also, it can be as a result of manufacture registering it with the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).

*EPA Registration Number

The pesticide label often contains information about the product. This is typically a number that tells you that the product has been reviewed by EPA and declared safe to use as a pesticide. Also, the EPA guide will show you the minimal risk associated with the use of each pesticide product.

*Special warning statements

Many pesticide labels often contain a special warning to all users. Some of the most popular warning inscribed on pesticide labels includes “READ THE LABEL BEFORE USE” – suitable for all pesticide labels.

“KEEP OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN” is required on all pesticides classified as domestic – intended for house use

*Notice to user

Since it is legally binding to use the pesticide for its intended purpose, most pesticide labels contain a warning to users.  It compels the users to only use product according to the instruction on the label.

*Ingredient Statement

This is a compilation of all the names and volume used in active ingredients and inert ones. Having a good comparison of the cost per unit for active ingredients used with different brand and formulation can help you to save certain amounts. However, you should only buy the volume of pesticide you need, don’t focus on getting more because you want to be cost-effective. Thus, you may find yourself establishing severe disposal problem

Although most pesticides and chemicals, in general, have commons names that everybody knows, nevertheless knowing the chemical composition and complex chemical names may interest you. They appear on all pesticides but exist in the same way on all product labels

*Net contents

The net content shows you the amount of pesticide in the container. Most liquid chemicals exist in one liter for both pesticides and herbicides.

For solid, you can be sure that the weight will be printed or written somewhere by the corner of the pesticide container.

 *Name of a manufacturing company

You are mandated by law to provide information about the name of the maker, the address established, address and contact of the business. When you see an EPA number on your pesticide products. You can be 100% sure that such products have been fully registered with EPA.

*The signal word and symbol

The signal and symbols on pesticide labels indicate the level of toxicity of a pesticide product. Some of the commonly observed signal words include the skull and cross bone which means that such product is very toxic. Also, if you see the warning symbol, then you can know that such product is moderately toxic. With caution, the pesticide product is slightly toxic.

*Toxicological Information

It shows the degree of toxicity of pesticides and provides information on how to treat someone that is injured from the pesticide use. Also, this part will tell you the presence of other ingredients that may affect the treatment.

*Precautionary Statements

As farmers or gardeners, the majority of us are guilty of this aspect. Most times after carefully reading the part that states the protective clothing, we tend to ignore it. Pesticides are harmful, and the label is there to protect us from hazards. Endeavor to wear any protective gadgets as recommended by the label; from the nose, mask to goggle, gloves and overall.

*Emergency First aid measure

In a situation where you or someone else accidentally swallow a pesticide product declared as very toxic, the label will contain information on steps to take the first aid before you seek medical attention.

*Direction for Use

It contains the relevant information on how to effectively use a particular pesticide product in eliminating the target past.

Generally, the information you will notice in the direction for use include the following;

  • The crops, livestock or objects receiving treatment
  • The amount of pesticide to be used per acre or hectare of land, the liter of water, etc.
  • The best method of application
  • Type of application equipment to be deployed
  • Information on the re-entry period for the treated area

*The species of pests controlled

All pesticides have their targeted species of organisms. For instance, an insecticide although primarily made for the control of insect may be toxic to other organisms like birds and earthworm. Pesticide labels carefully show what to expect when applied and the ranges of pests affected.

*Environmental Hazards

This section specifies if the pesticide product is capable of causing harmful or injurious compounds to the environment. It will show if the pesticide product is harmful to the aquatic life such as fish, crab and other creature living in water bodies. It will also let you know if the pesticide is toxic to beneficial pests and other organisms such as bees and earthworms.

*Pesticides’ Limitation and Restriction

This is associated with the limitation on harvest interval, adverse effect of pesticide on the environment, crop rotation limits, and instructions on use against certain crops or site including animal restriction.

*Storage and disposal method

When you have finished the application of a pesticide in your farm, you may be tempted to just place the remaining content anywhere without proper storage. This could be very dangerous. You must be careful always to keep unfinished pesticide in a safe place. In certain condition, the specific minimum and maximum storage temperature will be supplied. You have to note that some pesticide lose their effectiveness when not stored within the storage temperature recommended by the manufacturer,

Also, when you want to dispose of an empty container for pesticides, you will see how to safely destroy the container so that it will not be used in storing food or other food products.

General Guide on Pesticide Use

  • Try as much as possible to read the label before you make a purchase, and ensure the product is used for its specific purpose
  • Use the recommended amount of pesticide. Excess can lead to adverse effect on human, pets, livestock, etc.  Also, if you apply below the recommended rate, you will probably end up wasting money.
  • Don’t assume that a pesticide product is multipurpose; that is, don’t jump into conclusion that since it works with A, it has to work with B too. Read the label to clarify!
  • Spend your money on the exact amount of the required pesticide as there may be no adequate storage for the unused ones.
  • Always review the storage and disposal section of the label
  • Do not try to commit the instructions on the label to memory. You may forget when least expected, thus the need to read and re-read pesticide label until you are through with your application.
  • Do not use a pesticide without its label firmly attached. Also, never remove a label from a pesticide product container
  • Keep all pesticides away out of reach of children and pets