Pesticide labels

Applicator responsibility

Both federal and provincial legislation states that pesticide applicators must follow the information on pesticide labels. The label includes any booklet or information that is attached to the package. The label shows the pesticide is registered by Health Canada. It also gives the name and address of the company that makes the pesticide, if you need more information about it.

A pesticide label provides important information, including:

  • the active ingredient
  • what crops and pests the product can be used for
  • the rates at which the product should be used and how to apply it
  • restrictions (re-entry intervals, grazing restrictions, days before harvest)
  • How to use it safely (hazards, personal protective equipment, environmental considerations, precautions)

A pesticide label is a legal document. It tells how the product should be used. It is against the law to use the product in any other way, or to use it in an unsafe way. It is also against the law for anyone to tell you that a pesticide can be used for anything that is not on the label.

Remember: Always Read the Label First!

Labels are constantly changing, especially since the federal government started re-evaluating pesticides. Certain uses are no longer allowed and new uses are being added. Important information such as precautions, rates, worker re-entry times and pre-harvest intervals may have been modified. Read the labels carefully and note any changes compared to the product you purchased before.

When to read the label

Before you buy a pesticide:

  • Is this the right pesticide for your crop?
  • What is the formulation? How do you mix it?
  • How much do you need?
  • How should you apply it?
  • Are there any special storage instructions?

Before you mix and apply a pesticide:

  • Are there restrictions on using this pesticide?
  • When should it be used? Are there times when you should not use it?
  • What are the hazards?
  • What protective clothing and equipment do you need?
  • What first aid is needed if there is an accident?

Before disposing pesticides and containers:

  • How can you get rid of the container safely?
  • Are there any special instructions?

Information included on labels

  1. Trade Name or Product Name - This name is assigned by the registrant or company.
  2. Formulation - States the type of formulation (e.g. emulsifiable concentrate)
  3. Use - States the type of product (e.g. herbicide, insecticide or fungicide)
  4. Classification - States the federal classification. This indicates who can use the product. There are four classifications:
    • Domestic products intended for use in and around the home. They are sold in small packages and have a low toxicity.
    • Commercial (may also be called AgriculturalIndustrial or Forestry) products designed for use in commercial operations, in agriculture, forestry or industry. They are usually more concentrated than domestic products and are sold in larger containers.
    • Restricted products can only be used by certified pesticide applicators in BC. They have special restrictions on the labels and are more hazardous than the other classifications
    • Manufacturing products are used by companies that manufacture or formulate pesticides. They are not available to the farmer. 
  5. Net Contents - States how much is in the package in metric units.
  6. Precautionary shapes, symbols and signal words show the main type of danger and degree of danger associated with the product.
  7. Guarantee states the common name of the active ingredient(s) in the product. The active ingredient is the part of the pesticide product that controls the pest. The guarantee also shows how much active ingredient is in the product. The guarantee may be shown as either weight per volume (i.e. 500 grams/liter) or as a percentage by weight (i.e. 40%)
  8. Registration Number shows the product can be used in Canada. It appears as "Registration Number 00,000 Pest Control Products Act". American products have an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) number. Pesticides with EPA numbers are not allowed to be used in Canada.
  9. Pesticide Company’s Name and Address is the name and address of the company (registrant) that registered the product. They can provide more information about the product.
  10. Directions for Use - States how to use the pesticide and must be followed exactly. Failure to follow directions could cause crop damage, poor pest control, danger to health, damage to environment or confiscation of a crop due to excess pesticide residues. This sections indicates where the pesticide can be used, what crops or animals it can be used on, the pests it controls, timing and rate of application, mixing instructions, compatibility, and restrictions (pre-harvest intervals, grazing restrictions, pre-slaughter intervals, re-entry intervals).
  11. Precautions - States what you must do to protect people and the environment. Precautions include warnings, safety precautions for applicators, environmental precautions (e.g. buffer zone instructions) and efficacy precautions (e.g. Avoid freezing.)
  12. Disposal - States how to dispose of empty containers or unused pesticide.
  13. First Aid - States what to do if there is a poisoning.
  14. Toxicological Information - States poisoning symptoms and important information for doctors.
  15. Resistance Management Recommendations – Information on how to delay resistance development in pest populations