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Pesticides and Integrated Pest Management


A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. Pests can be insects, mice and other animals, unwanted plants (weeds), fungi, or microorganisms like bacteria and viruses. Though often misunderstood to refer only to insecticides, the term "pesticide" also applies to herbicides, fungicides, and various other substances used to control pests. Under federal law, a pesticide is also any substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant. [from: What is a Pesticide?, EPA]

Pesticides and their uses are regulated by the federal and state governments. The use of pesticides can be harmful to humans and to the environment. Recent studies documenting the presence of pesticides in area streams and effects of pesticides on salmon have resulted in public policies designed to reduce chemical use in homes and private and public gardens.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has cited Portland, Oregon's Parks Integrated Pest Management Program as a model. See Portland Parks and Recreation Invasive Plant & Pest Management. NMFS believes that, if jurisdictions would broadly adopt a similar approach to eliminating and limiting chemical use in their parks and other areas, it would help conserve listed fish. (Citizens Guide to the 4(d) Rule, Limit No. 11

Washington Laws and Regulations

The use of pesticides under state law is governed by the Washington Pesticide Application Act, Ch. 17.21 RCW, which authorizes the Department of Agriculture to regulate pesticide application and use. This chapter preempts cities and counties from regulating pesticide application and use, except the first class cities and the counties in which they are located, which can regulate structural pest control operators, exterminators, and fumigators.

The Washington Pesticide Control Act, Ch. 15.58 RCW, authorizes the Department of Agriculture to regulate formulation, distribution, storage, and disposal of pesticides. This chapter does not preempt cities and counties from regulating these activities, so long as the local regulations do not conflict with state law. See AGO 1993 No. 5.

Pesticide Licensing and Education for Public Employees

Government employees who apply any restricted use pesticide or a general use pesticides by means of an "apparatus" (defined in RCW 17.21.020(4)), are required to have a public operator license (RCW 17.21.220).

Use of Pesticides

Integrated Pest Management

National and State Organizations

Washington Local Governments

Handling and Disposal of Pesticides

Last Modified: September 28, 2016