How to Read the Label

Pesticide product label directions must be followed to make sure the pesticide does its job and does it safely. In fact, the label is the law. It is actually a violation of federal law to use a pesticide product in a different manner than instructed on the label — this includes directions on how much to apply, how large of an area it’s designed to control, and whether or not it should be diluted or mixed before use.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees the pesticide label process to verify that all required information is included and to provide some consistency among labels. The following information can be found on each pesticide label:

  • Product name.
  • Active and inactive ingredients. “Active ingredients” refers to the product contents that control the bugs, weeds, rodents or other pests. The percentage of the product represented by each active ingredient is also listed. Often, active ingredients represent a relatively small portion of the product. “Inactive” or “other” ingredients represent compounds present in the product that are not responsible for the control of the pests. These ingredients are there for various reasons, including making the product easier to use or allowing it to dissolve more effectively.
  • Directions for Use. Instructions for application amounts and timing, the size of area that should be treated, and instructions for mixing or diluting the product, if necessary.
  • Precautionary statements. These statements outline potential effects in regards to health and the environment of which to be aware when using the product.
  • Storage and Disposal. Properly storing and disposing pesticide products is as important as properly using the product.
  • First Aid Guidelines. Instructions for what to do if, for example, the product gets in someone’s eyes or is swallowed.
  • Important Phone Numbers. A phone number for product questions, which will connect you to a manufacturer representative and those for use if the product is improperly used or someone is overexposed are listed on the label.
  • Manufacturer Address. All pesticide product labels will provide the name and address of the manufacturer who produced the product.
  • EPA Registration Number and Establishment Number. The EPA registration number demonstrates that the product has been reviewed by the EPA and approved for sale and use in the United States, as it represents minimal risk if used correctly. The number indicates the facility at which the final stage of product production took place.

U.S. EPA’s web site has resources for you to review and help familiarize yourself with the information to look for when selecting and using the product.

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