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Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances that prevent, destroy, repel or mitigate pests, or defoliate, desiccate or regulate plants. Pests for example can be insects, fungi, weeds, snails and slugs, mold and mildew. So insecticides, fungicides and herbicides and even common disinfectants are pesticides. The suffix -"cide" derives from the Latin meaning to cut down or kill.

Why are Pesticides Regulated?

Pesticides are poisonous substances that can have an adverse effect on the environment or impair human health if handled improperly. If misused, they could kill untargeted plants and animals or leave excess residues on food crops or in drinking water. Misuse of pesticides could cause health problems to people who are exposed to them by inhalation or skin contact or by eating affected foods or drinking contaminated water.

How are Pesticides Regulated?

Federal Law: The Federal Government regulates pesticides through the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). FIFRA gives the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the power to register pesticides and to regulate the use, storage and disposal of containers and manufacturing wastes. FIFRA also allows states to have primary enforcement responsibility.

State Law:Massachusetts regulates pesticides under the authority of the Massachusetts Pesticide Control Act (MPCA, Chapter 132B of the Massachusetts General Laws). This law, enacted in 1978, places the power of pesticide regulation with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. The regulations are Chapter 333 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (333 CMR). Pest Management within the Department of Agricultural Resources carries out these regulatory responsibilities.

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