The owner of a U.S. farm supply and services company was recently levied a hefty fine for selling “restricted use” pesticides without a license and for failing to store the products properly. It was a serious penalty for a serious offense.

The sale of any pesticide – whether “restricted use” or “general use” – must follow all applicable government regulations, including those imposed by federal and state authorities. For example, licensing of certain pesticide dealers and retailers is required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).    

There are greater regulations concerning the sale of restricted use pesticides than there are for those approved for general use. “Chemicals intended for use only by trained applicators can’t be sold by just anyone,” says Lee Van Wychen, Ph.D., science policy director of the Weed Science Society of America. “Government agencies require sellers to first demonstrate that they understand vital regulations – from how to store the products they sell to how to identify authorized buyers.”

Here are a few important facts about the regulations governing pesticide sales:

1) Distributors, dealers and retailers must be licensed to sell restricted-use pesticides.

2) Restricted-use pesticides can be sold only to applicators who are certified to apply them.

3) Some states regulate the sale of restricted-use pesticides even more strictly than the federal government. Some require a license to sell general-use pesticides as well.

4) All pesticides sold must be unadulterated – without any modification of the product and/or labeling. For example, it is illegal to dilute a pesticide prior to sale.

5) The seller is responsible for stocking only pesticide products that have been registered by the EPA and by other regulatory agencies.

6) Sales of restricted-use pesticides must be carefully documented. Some states require similar documentation for the sale of pesticides approved for use by the general public.

7) The seller must store pesticides properly – according to label requirements and government regulations – and inspect the storage area regularly. For example, warning signs may be required, as well as suitable materials to absorb leaks and a plan for managing fires.

8) Sellers must follow very specific laws regarding refillable containers, repackaging of pesticide products and containment structures for certain products.

9) Pesticides sold over the Internet are not exempt from federal and state pesticide laws.

10) Sellers who ship or deliver pesticides must follow regulations governing their safe transport within and between states.