New Compliance Requirements Coming to Pesticide Labels

Screenshot of the Bulletins Live! Two website.

Contributed by Christina Ward, Rachel Bomberger, Henry Wetzel, and Wendy Sue Wheeler, Washington State University

Have you recently purchased a new container of your favorite pesticide product? Did you read the entire label prior to application, specifically the section titled: “Directions for Use”? If not, you could be missing critical use information.

What new information do I need to be aware of?

Coming soon to labels is the new Endangered Species Protection Requirements language. These new use directions are to protect and preserve certain endangered and threatened species as defined in the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We do not know when products will have the new label language, but you should expect to see it soon. Search for the most current product label on search engines like PICOL or CDMS Applied Intelligence prior to making an application.

For applicators to comply with the ESA, the “Directions for Use” section on pesticide labels will often direct users to obtain an Endangered Species Protection Bulletin, commonly referred to as Bulletins. These Bulletins contain directions for use specific to the area in which the product will be applied.

What are Endangered Species Protection Bulletins?

Bulletins contain ESA restrictions or limitations for the specific area where the pesticides will be used. When crop land overlaps with federally listed endangered or threatened species, or their habitat, this area is designated as a Pesticide Use Limitation Area (PULA). This is an evaluation of the potential for exposure such as drift, runoff, leaching or if a spill were to happen during offsite transport. PULAs may have additional mitigation measures added to the product label use restrictions depending on the active ingredient, product formulation, and time of year. The restrictions could be increased buffers, environmental conditions (i.e. soil saturation), weather conditions that prohibit application, or other use restrictions. Bulletins are extensions of the pesticide label and are enforceable requirements from EPA and state lead agencies, like Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA). If you misuse the pesticide and it results in the ‘take’ (kill or harm) of a federally listed species, the action is enforceable as a label violation under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) as well as enforceable under the Endangered Species Act by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and/or National Marine and Fisheries Service (NMFS).

Remember: Bulletins are intended to identify and give options to mitigate potential risks from a pesticide’s registered uses to species (or taxa) of concern in the area. As of this article (November 2023), the species and habitat of concern are salmonids in the PNW. More federally listed endangered and threatened species may be added in the future.

When do I need a Bulletin?

You will need to obtain a Bulletin when your product label directs you to visit the EPA Bulletins Live! Two website. Most often the ESA statement is under the Directions for Use but may vary from label to label.  It is the label on the product that you are using that will determine whether you need to obtain a Bulletin. If the label on the pesticide container does not have the Endangered Species Protection Requirement language on it, you do not have to follow the new regulations. If your pesticide application is within a PULA, you will need to read and follow the limitations for the product. If you are outside of a PULA, you will need to document that there are no limitations within your application area during the month of application. You must be able to provide evidence that you obtained a Bulletin, regardless of whether your application was in a PULA or not, if requested during a compliance inspection or investigation. You must obtain the bulletin no earlier than six (6) months prior to the application.

PULAs are shown on the map on the Bulletins Live! Two website with pink-orange highlight. When you zoom into the map you can see specifically where parts of fields may be in a PULA.

How do I access an Endangered Species Protection Bulletin?

To access a Bulletin specific to your needs, you will need to visit the website listed on the product label: United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Bulletins Live! Two. You should see a screen that looks like the image below.

Screenshot of Bulletins Live! Two website.

A tutorial about how to search for and obtain your Bulletin is available on the website. The website is not consistently user friendly. Recently, it was determined by WSDA staff, that the website may be accessible via mobile phone if you have cell service. It is recommended to print or otherwise obtain these Bulletins while working at a desktop computer when you are planning your application instead of as you are about to make an application. WSDA and WSU Pesticide Resources and Education Program have some suggestions on how to best utilize the website. WSDA is putting together further information and guidance.

First, type in the EPA registration number which can be found on the front page of the label. Next, enter the month you anticipate applying the product. One suggestion is to download the Bulletin for the months you think you may use the pesticide. For instance, if you typically do a post-emergent herbicide application in March and sometimes April, you should download both months’ Bulletins in preparation. As a reminder, you must obtain the Bulletin PRIOR to using the pesticide but no earlier than six months before the application.

Finally, you will need to zoom into or enter the location of your application. It is often easier to ‘toggle’ to the geographic map to see the actual landscape to better find the precise area of your application. The zoom function is located in the lower right corner of the map.

You will know when your information has been entered successfully when the rectangle in the upper right corner, “Printable Bulletin,” turns from red to green. By clicking on the green rectangle, you can download and save a PDF of your Bulletin. The PDF will indicate whether there are use limitations if the application is in a PULA or show that there are no use limitations.

Keep in mind that you will need to document both a Bulletin with PULA restrictions as well as Bulletins with no PULA.

Final Thoughts

This new system will take some time to adjust to. WSDA and WSU are ready to assist as best we can to help applicators comply.

There are four active ingredients that are affected at the time of writing (November 2023) by the new label language in Washington: prometryn (Caparol® 4L), 1,3-dichloropropene (Telone™ II Soil Fumigant), S-metolachlor (Dual Magnum®), and bromoxynil (numerous post-patten formulations and a component of herbicide premixtures, including Huskie® and Talinor™).

A link to the Bulletin webpage can be found on WSU Pesticide Information Center OnLine (PICOL). If you have compliance questions, contact the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) at 360-902-2040. If you have general questions, you can also contact WSU Pesticide Resources and Education.