EPA updates RUP certification rule


December 12, 2023

Diane Sofranec

Diane Sofranec

Pest management professionals (PMPs) who use restricted-use pesticides (RUPs) will be held to higher safety standards in an effort to protect themselves, the public and the environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says.

Federal law and regulations require those who use or supervise the use of RUPs to be certified applicators. State, territorial and tribal authorities can certify applicators. PMPs must be certified in each state, territory and area of Indian country where they apply RUPs.

Background on ruling

The EPA updated the Certification of Pesticide Applicators (CPA) rule on Jan. 4, 2017, and required authorities who certify RUP applicators to submit to the EPA for approval revised plans that would strengthen safety. In 2022, the EPA extended the existing plans’ expiration date to Nov. 4, 2023. On Nov. 3, 2023, the EPA announced the final approval of 67 updated safety plans for certifying RUP applicators.

Since 2020, the EPA says it has been working with certifying authorities from all 50 states as well as five territories, six federal agencies, six tribes, and the District of Columbia to modify the plans, which are designed to protect the environment and human health. This includes the health of certified pesticide applicators and those under their direct supervision and ensures certified pesticide applicators are trained to prevent pesticide exposure.

Each safety plan (see “Approved safety plans,” at right) will have an implementation schedule agreed to by the EPA and the state, tribe, territory or federal agency administering the safety plan to give them and applicators time to comply with the new requirements.

Applicator certification standards

The CPA rule requires PMPs show practical knowledge of core pesticide use and safety, and at least one specific category, such as structural, of application.

When it comes to core pesticide use and safety, PMPs must show practical knowledge of:

  • Pesticide label and labeling comprehension.
  • Safety, including pesticide hazards, first aid, personal protective equipment and emergency response.
  • Pesticides in the environment.
  • Pest identification and management.
  • Pesticide formulations.
  • Pesticide application equipment and application techniques.
  • Laws and regulations.

Many states and territories offer a Pesticide Safety Education Program that provides training and study materials. The EPA maintains a list; for more information, visit EPA.gov/pesticide-worker-safety/pesticide-safety-education-programs-0.

Approved safety plans

Revisions to the CPA rule aim to ensure RUPs are used safely and applied correctly. The revised rule stipulates:

  • Applicators must demonstrate they are competent to use RUPs by completing training programs and/or passing a written exam. Competency standards now include more specific information on pesticide application and safe use.
  • Certification is now required for aerial, fumigation and predator control RUPs.
  • Applicators and noncertified applicators under a certified applicator’s direct supervision must be at least 18 years old to apply RUPs. There is a limited age exemption of 16 years old for some uses of RUPs on family farms by noncertified applicators, under the direct supervision of a certified applicator who is an immediate family member.
  • Those applying RUPs under the direct supervision of a certified applicator must receive safety training in a manner they can understand. Applicators must verify training records for those working under their direct supervision before applying RUPs.
  • Recertification programs must ensure applicators continue to maintain competency.
  • Certifications are now valid for a maximum of five years; previously, there was no federal limit.
  • Dealers of RUPs must maintain sales records.
  • Certification exams must be proctored. Only approved materials may be used during exams.
  • Candidates for certification by exam and training, and candidates for recertification by exam must present government-issued identification or a state-established equivalent.

About the Author

Headshot: Diane Sofranec

Diane Sofranec is the senior editor for PMP magazine. She can be reached at dsofranec@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3793.

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