Pesticide Safety: 10 Things that Must be on a Pesticide Label

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a caution sign with the word pesticides

Pesticide Safety: 10 Things that Must be on a Pesticide Label

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a caution sign with the word pesticides

Almost every manufactured product today comes with a set of instructions. The instructions are written to provide the buyer with a little knowledge to ensure successful use of the product. Where necessary, the instructions provide instructions that when followed provide adequate protection for the user.

When it comes to using a pesticide, the most important few minutes is the time you spend reading the label. But what pesticide safety information NEEDS to be on the label?

The 10 Things that must be on a Pesticide Label

  1. Trade name (brand name), common name, and chemical name.
    1. The trade name (brand name):
      • Is the proprietary name for the formulator of the pesticide. 
      • Most companies register a brand name as a trademark and do not allow any other company to use that name.
      • The brand name is usually the largest print on the label.
      • Some companies use the basic trade name with only minor variations to designate an entirely different pesticide chemical. Therefore, care must be taken when choosing a pesticide and must not be based on trade name alone.
    2. The common name:
      • Assigned to most pesticides.
      • Used in publications and recommendation guidebooks.
    3. The chemical name:
      • Usually a long name.
      • States the name of the pesticide in chemical terms.

  1. Name and address of the manufacturer.
    1. The law requires the manufacturer or distributor of the pesticide put the name and address of the company on the label.
    2. This is necessary information to have if you wish to contact the company with specific questions.

  1. Net contents in the pesticide container.
    1. Expressed as:
      • Ounces, pounds, grams, or kilograms for dry formulations.
      • Gallons, quarts, pints, milliliters, or liters for liquid formulations.

  1. EPA registration number.
    1. Signifies that the product has been registered with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
    2. Infers that the pesticide has passed the agency’s review of data and is ready for use according to the pesticide safety label instructions.

  1. EPA establishment number.
    1. This number is assigned to the plant that manufactured the pesticide for the company. 
    2. Some companies manufacture a pesticide product in more than one manufacturing plant and the establishment number identifies the place of manufacture.
    3. In case something goes wrong, the facility that made the product can be traced.

  1. Ingredients statement.
    1. Indicates what is in the pesticide container.
    2. Ingredients are usually listed as:
      • The active material(s) – the chemical that does the job that the chemical is intended to do.
      • Other inactive material(s).
    3. Must list the official chemical names and/or common names for the active ingredients.
    4. Other materials (inactive ingredients) need not be named, but the label must show what percentage of the total content they comprise.
    5. The amount of active ingredient per unit of product is also shown. For example:
      • If the product is liquid, the amount of active ingredient is shown as pounds per gallon.
      • If the material is a dry formulation such as a powder or granule, the amount of active ingredient is shown as a percentage.

  1. Precautionary statements.
    1. All pesticide labels contain information to help you decide the proper precautions to take to protect yourself, your workers, and other persons, or domestic animals and wildlife from exposure.
    2. Child hazard warning
    3. The statement “Keep Out of Reach of Children” must appear on every pesticide label.
    4. Children have low tolerance levels to pesticides and must be protected from harm by pesticides.
    5. Signal words and symbols
      • Every label must contain a signal word giving a person a clue as to how dangerous the product is to humans.
      • Signal words are in large letters immediately following the “Keep Out of the Reach of Children” statement as follows:
        • Caution – this word signals that the product is slightly toxic orally, dermally, or through inhalation, and causes moderate eye irritation.
          • An ounce to more than a pint taken by mouth could kill an average-sized adult.
        • Warning – this word signals that the product is moderately toxic orally, dermally, or through inhalation, and causes slight eye irritation.
        • A teaspoonful to tablespoonful taken by mouth could kill an average-sized adult.
        • Danger – Poison – this word combination signals that the pesticide is highly toxic orally, dermally, or through inhalation.
          • A taste to a teaspoon taken by mouth could kill an average-sized adult.
    6. Symbols for highly toxic chemicals
      • Any product that is highly toxic orally, dermally, or through inhalation will be labeled Danger-Poison printed in red and accompanied by the skull and crossbones symbol.
    7. Statement of practical treatment
      • Contains first aid treatments recommended in case of poisoning. For example:
        • In case of contact with:
          • Skin, wash immediately with plenty of soap and water.
          • Eyes, flush with water for 15 minutes and seek medical attention.
          • Inhalation exposure, move the person from the contaminated area and give artificial respiration if necessary.
        • If swallowed:
          • Drink large quantities of milk, egg white, or water. Do not induce vomiting because the material may be caustic.
          • Induce vomiting if material is not caustic.
    8. Referral statement
      • All danger-poison labels and some warning and caution labels will contain a note to physicians describing the appropriate medical procedures for poisoning emergencies and may identify an antidote.

  1. Other precautionary statements.
    1. Labels often list other precautions to take while handling the product.
      • These statements represent actions that a competent applicator should always follow.
    2. Hazard statements
      • Hazards to humans and domestic animals, environmental hazards, and physical-chemical hazards.
        • These hazard statements are not always located in the same place on all pesticide labels. You should search the label for statements that will help you apply the pesticide safely.
      • Environmental hazards
        • Pesticides may be harmful to the environment.
        • Watch for statements like:
          • This product is highly toxic to bees.
          • Do not apply when runoff is likely to occur.
          • Do not allow drift on desirable plants.
      • Physical or chemical hazards
        • This section of the label will tell you of any special fire, explosion, and chemical hazards the product may pose. For example:
          • Flammable: Do not use, pour, spill, or store near heat or open flame.
          • Corrosive: store only in a corrosion-resistant tank.

  1. Use classification.
    1. All pesticides are evaluated, and if additional care is required for their safe use, they receive a restricted use pesticide (RUP) classification.
      • A RUP statement will appear on any pesticide that is classified for restricted use as follows:
        • For retail sale and use only by certified applicators or persons under their direct supervision and only for those uses covered by the certified applicator’s certification.
      • General-use pesticides do not contain the RUP statement on their label and can be used by the general public without restrictions.
    2. Misuse statement
      • It is a violation to use a product in a manner that is inconsistent with its labeling.

  1. Directions for use.
    1. Detailed instructions on how to use the pesticide according to the label to achieve the desired results. Instructions include:
      • Reentry or restricted entry interval (REI) statement
        • Specifies the amount of time that must elapse after a pesticide has been applied and before it is safe to enter the treated area without wearing full protective clothing and equipment.
        • Pesticides with the signal words danger – poison or warning contain a strict reentry or REI statement.
      • Category of applicator
        • Identifies the category of applicator that is allowed to use the pesticide.
      • Storage and disposal
        • Tells the user how to store the pesticide and how to dispose of remaining pesticide and/or the container.
      • Directions for use on crops or animals
        • Provides specific instructions for the best manner in which to apply the product.
        • Instructions will tell you the following:
          • The pests the manufacturer claims will be controlled.
          • The crop, animal, or site the product is intended to protect.
          • In what form the product should be applied.
          • The proper equipment to be used.
          • How much product to use.
          • Mixing directions.
          • Compatibility with other often-used products.
          • Possible injury or staining problems.
          • Where the material should be applied.
          • When the material should be applied.

Now you know what type of information needs to be on a pesticide label. However, when must you read the label? Many people say that the only time you need to read the label is when you are applying the pesticide. WRONG.

The FIVE Times you must read the pesticide label

  1. Before you buy the pesticide, to determine:
    1. It is the best chemical for the job
    2. The pesticide can be used safely under your conditions
    3. If the concentration and amount of active ingredient are right for the job
    4. If you have the proper equipment to apply the pesticide

  1. Before you mix the pesticide, to determine:
    1. Protective equipment needed to handle the pesticide
    2. Specific warning and first aid measures
    3. What the pesticide can be mixed with (compatibility)
    4. How much pesticide to use
    5. Proper mixing procedure

  1. Before you apply the pesticide, to determine:
    1. Safety measures for the applicator
    2. Where the pesticide can be applied (crops, structures, livestock, etc.)
    3. When to apply the pesticide
    4. How to apply the pesticide
    5. Rate of application
    6. Other restrictions on use
    7. Any special instructions

  1. Before you store the pesticide, to determine:
    1. Where and how to store the pesticide
    2. What incompatibility problems there may be
    3. Storage requirements (temperature, palleting, etc.)

  1. Before you dispose of any excess pesticide or the container, to determine:
    1. How to decontaminate and dispose of the pesticide container
    2. Where and how to dispose of surplus pesticide
    3. Any restrictions that apply

The most important few minutes in pest control is the time you spend reading the pesticide safety label.


Bohmont, B.L. 2007. The Standard Pesticide User’s Guide – 7th Ed. Pearson Prentice Hall. Pp. 181-200.

Brewer International ( has been a leader in land and water chemistry since the 1980’s and for over 40 years has proudly served it’s national and regional distributors. 

Our products are used widely across the United States in agriculture, aquatics, forestry, rights of way, and land management. 

Our customers trust our dedication to quality ingredients, tried and true formulas, and positive outcomes.

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