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Reading a Pesticide Label

One of the more important tools for safe and effective use of pesticides is the information on the product label. Labels are legal documents and are required to contain directions on how to properly mix, apply, store and dispose of a pesticide product. These directions are designed to ensure the safe and effective use of pesticides, and failure to comply can harm humans and the environment as well as lead to possible legal liability. (Vis. 1)
EXample of a Pesticide label

Warning or Caution Statements

Statement of practical treatment. The label must tell you how to avoid the hazards the product poses. Within the precautionary statement or elsewhere on the label, emergency first aid measures must be stated. The label must also state what types of exposure require medical attention. Precautionary statements. Hazards to humans and domestic animals: This section well tell you in what ways the product may be poisonous. It will also tell you how to avoid poisoning, such as protective clothing or ventilation requirements. If the pesticide is highly toxic, this section must inform physicians of the proper treatment for poisoning.

Physical and chemical hazards: This section will say if the pesticide may pose any fire, explosion or chemical hazards.

Environmental hazards: if used improperly, pesticides or pesticide residues may contaminate water supplies, accumulate to dangerous levels in the environment or harm birds, fish or wildlife. To avoid these problems, the label may contain environmental precautions applying to air, water, soil or wildlife.

Endangered species: if the pesticide has potential for harming an endangered species or its habitat, use restriction statements will appear that indicate where the pesticide may not be used.

Directions For Use
The instructions on the label must tell you how to use the product properly within its legal requirements to get the best results. The directions will tell you: The pests the product is registered to control. The crops, animals or other items the product can be us on.

In what form the product should be applied. How to apply the product. How much to use. Where it should be applied. When it should be applied. How frequently it should be applied. How soon the crop may be used or eaten after the product is applied.

Re-Entry Statement
This statement tells how much time must pass before people can re-enter a treated area without appropriate protective clothing and equipment. If no re-entry statement appears, then all unprotected workers must wait until sprays have dried or dusts have settled before reentering. If re-entry period is in effect and early re-entry is required, the protective clothing to be worn will be indicated.

Registration and Establishment Numbers
Every pesticide on the market must be registered with the federal government with the Environmental Protection Agency. The registration number must be on the front panel of the label and is written as "EPA Registration No. XXXX." The establishment number, a code of the factory that made the chemical, must also be on every pesticide container. It usually appears under the registration number.

Type of Formulation
A pesticide may be available in more than one type of formulation: liquids, wettable powders, emulsifiable concentrates, dusts and others. Different types of formulations require different methods of handling. The label will say what type of formulation the package contains and how to use it properly.

Misuse Statement
Chemical companies are required by law to do extensive testing on a product before it may be placed on the market. They must meet all labeling requirements and prove that labeling information is correct. To use a pesticide product in any manner inconsistent with its labeling is a violation of federal law. You are reminded of this in the misuse statement.

Child Hazard Warning
Every pesticide container must bear the statement "KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN" on the front label.

Ingredient Statement
Every pesticide label must list what is in the product. It must show the percentage that is the active ingredient and the percentage that is inert ingredients. The name of the active ingredient must also be listed. It can be shown either by chemical name or common and chemical name. The inert ingredients do not need to be named.

Name of The Product
Brand name: The name, brand or trademark is plainly on the front panel of the product label. The brand name is the name used in ads by the company that makes the product and is the most identifiable name for the product.

Common Name:
All chemicals have a scientific name. Many times, a chemical with a complex scientific name is also given a simpler common name. The scientific and common names do not vary between companies. Brand names are different, depending on which company made the chemical.

Name and Address of Manufacturer
The name and address of the company that made or distributed the product must be on the label so the purchaser of the product knows who made or sold the product and can contact them if necessary.

Net Contents
The label must show how much product is in the container. This can be expressed in ounces, liters, pounds or other units.


This information comes from Michigan State University Extension bulletin E-2182, Reading a Pesticide Product Label.

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This information is for educational purposes only. References to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned. This information becomes public property upon publication and may be printed verbatim with credit to MSU Extension. Reprinting cannot be used to endorse or advertise a commercial product or company.

MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status. Issued in furtherance of MSU Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Thomas G. Coon, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing,MI 48824. This information is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

This information.was reviewed as of June 2008.  For more information about the contents please contact for webpage problems .