Retail Pros and Cons

Sunday March 3, 2013


Mr Pest Control


Pest Control Technicians are required to follow the "new" pyrethroid labeling. But, what percentage of insecticide is sold to "non" PCO's where the label directions are not actively enforced. My best guess is that more pesticides are applied by non-PMP's and I do not expect "new" labeling to reduce the level of active ingredients various agencies are concerned with, which in turn may bring more restrictions. To turn this into a question, can we expect the new pyrethoid labeling to be effective in achieving the results that are hoped for?

Richard, TX

Mr Pest Control


Clearly the issue of Synthetic Pyrethroids and the new labeling that went on in 2012, and which will be relaxed a bit in 2013, is an important one. Hopefully everyone is beginning to feel comfortable with what is permitted and what has been restricted, but any questions can be answered with the resources on this issue on PestWeb. 

Now to your thoughts and your question, and obviously this is calling for my opinion, and I need to be careful to word that opinion in a manner that doesn't create some backlash I'd rather avoid. I will agree with you that some "studies" have determined that the homeowner-use of insecticides may outweigh in total volume the amount used by professionals in pest management. Whether that is accurate or not, bottom line is that a LOT of insecticide is sold over the counter in retail outlets to unlicensed, untrained people, and the people who work in big box stores where most of that insecticide is sold likely have little to no knowledge of the materials either, so they are not going to educate their customers on what to buy and how to use it properly. 

This very well likely leads to excessive and improper use of insecticides much of the time by homeowners. And, synthetic pyrethroids now make up a large percentage of the active ingredients in retail insecticides, although plant-derived materials are gaining ground. Thus, we probably could expect that a good percentage of that over-the-counter (including from DIY internet sales) pyrethroid material will be applied in a manner that is not allowed, and which then could lead to the runoff into aquatic habitats that our new restrictions are trying to prevent. You also are correct that it is zero enforcement of homeowner use of pesticides until some problem actually occurs that calls for some regulatory action after the fact. But, if someone were to sample water in a creek near a neighborhood and found traces of pyrethroids in that water, there is no way at this time to distinguish between materials applied by professionals and that applied by homeowners. However, the professional industry is an easy target to pick on and the only ones that can be regulated. 

One thought we must keep in mind is that anti-pesticide activist groups, and there are many of them, will NEVER end their campaign to remove all "toxins" from use. It doesn't matter what our products are, once they achieve a victory such as the elimination of all Chlorinated Hydrocarbons in the 1990's, they move onto the next big group, and they achieved victory in the early 2000's with our loss of all Organophosphates. Next in line, logically, will be all of the pyrethroids, and if they are successful there they move onto the next large groups of pesticides in use. Environmental purity, even though their demands are self-serving and hypocritical, is their final goal. So, we can expect continued testing of runoff waters and continued changes in our use if trace amounts are still found there. 

Is the sale of pyrethroids on retail shelves a bad thing? Maybe not, because "perception is reality", and if all pyrethroids were removed from use by homeowners those anti-pesticide groups would now claim that it was done because they are "So Toxic" that only licensed people are allowed to use them, and then use that as their weapon to demand ultimate elimination of the products. A much better approach would be for US, the licensed industry, to take on a role we ought to accept, and that is to help educate the homeowners on the proper use of toxic materials. I don't think we risk losing business if we promote the proper use by following label instructions, wearing the appropriate safety equipment, and storing and disposing of pesticides in a safe and proper manner. This might even alert homeowners to the fact that this use might be more complicated than they wish to take on, and bring them to you, the PMP, to do it for them. 

This education could be in the form of newsletters that are left on their doors or emailed with their permission. You could hold town meetings at the local library, speak to community groups, etc., and in many formats get the word out about the value of pesticides but also the benefits of using them in the proper manner. If we, the industry, do not provide this kind of important information the homeowners certainly aren't going to find it on their own. 

Bottom line, and with respect to your question, yes........I think the new pyrethroid labeling WILL "help" with the intended goal of reducing (not necessarily eliminating) the presence of insecticide active ingredients in environmental habitats where they very well might cause an effect that is unnecessary and intolerable. I think that we, the professionals, can also admit that in many cases pesticides are still applied unnecessarily and excessively, and that this helps to alert us to the continuing need to educate our own members and technicians on the discrete use of the products we have. 

Mr. Pest Control

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Please note, Mr. Pest Control is answering questions supplied by PMP customers across North America. His answers are generated from industry and manufacturer-provided information. The answer may not be specific to the laws and regulations for your State, Province, Territory or Country. In addition, products mentioned may not be registered and or available in all areas. Always check with your local Univar office for specific information to your area. Always read and follow label directions.