How To Read Pesticide Labels

Q. What is a pesticide?
A. As per the law issued by the State Environmental Conservation, it’s “any substance or mixture of substances intended for the preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest, or intended for the use as a plant regulator, defoliant or desiccant”. Technically this definition would also apply to “organic materials” as well.

Examples of pesticides: insecticides for the control of insects; herbicides to control weeds; rodenticides to control mice and rats; repellants to repel mosquitoes; certain household cleaners for the control of bacteria; pool products for the control of algae and bacteria; pet products to control ticks and fleas; certain paints and wood preservatives to control fungus.

Q. Is it really that important to read the label?
A. The label is designed to provide the information that you need for the correct use of the product. It will instruct you on the correct mixture and handling, if any protective equipment is needed (such as gloves), any hazard that may result from its incorrect use. The label is a legal requirement imposed by federal law. It’s a violation of that law to use any pesticide in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.

A key piece of information on every label is the signal word that lets you know how poisonous the material is to humans. Signal words are:

  • Danger-Poison – this means highly poisonous (must be licensed to use)
  • Danger – means poisonous or corrosive
  • Warning – means moderately hazardous
  • Caution – means least hazardous

Always read the label directions when:

  • Purchasing product
  • Mixing or using material
  • Storing it and when disposing of the unused portion or empty container

For additional information on labels visit the DEC website. The most important thing you need to remember is that the label has been designed to protect you and your love ones …. so read it!

Mr. Luis A. Pabon
Technical Director
Catseye Pest Control, Inc.