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Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP)
Part of the Pesticide Management Education Program
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Pesticide Applicator Certification

Pesticide Applicator Certification

Pesticide application has become more complex over the past several years. The number of different kinds of pesticides available for use has increased. Effects on wildlife and the environment are now known to be important considerations. Highly toxic pesticides require special equipment and safety measures. Pesticide applicators, therefore, need to know more about safety and proper use than ever before. To help protect the general public, the environment, and you-the applicator, certification requirements have been set. New applicators must demonstrate their knowledge of protecting the environment from pesticide contamination, the proper handling of pesticides, and protection from personal injury. Only then will they be certified as pesticide applicators.

Goals of This Module

  • Know who needs to be certified.

  • Know the difference between a private applicator and a commercial applicator.

  • Be familiar with the categories of commercial application.

Who Must Be Certified?

Anyone using "restricted use" pesticides must be certified or under the direct supervision of someone who is certified. There are two classifications of certified applicators, "private" and "commercial."

The person applying pesticides does not necessarily have to be certified but he must be under the "direct supervision" of a certified applicator. "Direct supervision" means that the certified applicator must be easily available to give directions or advice, although usually he does not have to be present at the site of treatment.

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Private Applicator

A private certified applicator:

  • Uses or supervises the use of "restricted use" pesticides on property owned or rented by himself or his employer.

"Agricultural commodity" is defined as any plant or part of a plant, as well as animal or animal product produced for sale, feed, food, or for other uses by man or animals. For example: nursery stock, sod, Christmas trees, apples, carrots, potatoes, cattle, milk and eggs.

Examples of private applicators:

Farmers, ranchers, vineyardists, plant propagators, Christmas tree growers, aquaculturists, floriculturists, orchardists, nurserymen, sod growers, and other similar persons are examples of private applicators.

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Commercial Applicator

A commercial certified applicator:

  • Is any applicator applying pesticides except as defined in private or residential application of pesticides. Residential is the application of a general use pesticide by ground equipment on property on which the applicator resides.

Federal standards call for ten different groups or categories of commercial applicators.

  • States can divide them further and can omit those that don't apply to their conditions.

  • Commercial applicators may apply for certification in any or all of the categories, but must be certified in the categories in which they practice.

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The Ten Federal Commercial Categories

  • Agricultural Pest Control

    • Subcategory Plant. On agricultural crops, including grasslands and non- crop agricultural land.

    • Subcategory Animal. On animals and their pens, corrals, barnyards and other areas where they are confined.

  • Forest Pest Control. On forests, forest nurseries and forest seed producing areas.

  • Ornamental and Turf Pest Control. On ornamental trees, shrubs, flowers and turf. Subcategories are: ornamentals and shade trees (including turf) or turf only.

  • Seed Treatment. Commercial seed treatments.

  • Aquatic Pest Control. On standing or running water. Subcategories: aquatic vegetation control; aquatic insect control; and undesirable fish control.

  • Right-of-Way Pest Control. On roadsides, railway right-of-ways, electric power lines, pipelines, and other similar areas. Subcategories: highway right-of-way; railroad right-of-way; and utility and pipelines right-of- way.

  • Industrial, Institutional, Structural and Health Related Pest Control. In, on, or around food handling establishments, homes, schools, hospitals, other public institutions, warehouses, grain elevators, other industrial buildings, areas near these buildings and around stored, processed, or manufactured products. Subcategories are: structural and rodent; fumigation; termite; lumber and wood products; construction; food processing; cooling towers; and other.

  • Public Health Pest Control. Public health programs carried out by state, federal, or other governmental employees.

  • Regulatory Pest Control. Control of regulated pests by state, federal, or other governmental employees.

  • Demonstration and Research Pest Control. Includes those who use or demonstrate the use of restricted use pesticides for research, demonstration, or instructional purposes.

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