EPA Proposes to Delay Implementation of Revised Certification Standards for Pesticide Applicators

Published May 17, 2017

​On Friday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt proposed a 12-month extension for the implementation of the revised certification standards for pesticide applicators, which are intended to reduce the likelihood of harm to workers and their families from the misapplication of toxic pesticides. The revised standards also affect those who apply restricted-use pesticides that are not available for purchase by the general public and require special handling. The revisions were published in a final rule on Jan. 4, with an original effective date of March 6, 2017. The effective date was delayed twice to May 22, 2017, and the latest proposal would further delay the effective date to May 22, 2018. According to EPA, the proposed delay is based on feedback from states and stakeholders who feel that more time and resources are needed to prepare for compliance with the rule.

The proposed extension would delay implementation of changes to the agency’s certification and training rule, including enhanced applicator competency standards for restricted-use pesticides; a nationwide minimum age of 18 for certified applicators and those working under their direct supervision; a maximum recertification interval of five years for commercial and private applicators; and specialized certifications for workers using specific application methods such as fumigation and aerial application. When effective, the revisions will establish protection for noncertified applicators by requiring training before they can use restricted-use pesticides and clarify requirements for states, tribes, and federal agencies to administer their own certification programs. Those working under the supervision of certified applicators will also receive training to protect their families from take-home pesticide exposure under the new requirements.

According to the EPA press release that announced the changes in December 2016, expected benefits of the rule include fewer acute pesticide incidents to people, reduced chronic exposure, and reduced incidents of ecological harm from pesticide use.

Individuals only have until this Friday, May 19, to submit comments related to this proposal. EPA says that the shortened five-day comment period will allow “adequate time for interested parties to express their views” on whether the effective date should be delayed. See the Federal Register notice for further information about submitting comments.