Understanding Pesticide Labels

  • Pesticide labels are legal documents containing directions for use, handling, storage, and disposal of a pesticide product.

  • With so many sections on a label, it can be difficult to discern what you need to know.

  • This document can help with understanding how a label is designed and what information is provided within each section. 


Pesticide labels are legal documents that are required to provide directions on how to properly mix, apply, store, and dispose of a pesticide product. These directions are designed to help ensure the safe and effective use of pesticides. Failure to comply with label directions can potentially harm humans and the environment, as well as lead to possible legal liability. The label must be read and understood prior to use.


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1 - Commercial Product Name: 

  • The product name usually does not identify all of the active ingredients in a pesticide product.
  • There may be several trade names for one common name due to different formulations or manufacturers.

2 - Active Ingredient:

  • Every label must list all of the active ingredients in a product by weight and/or pounds per gallon for each active ingredient.

  • The common and chemical names are unique identifiers of each pesticide active ingredient.

3 - Signal Words:

  • Helps users assess the toxicity of each product. The signal word is based on the toxicity of all of the contents of a formulated product.
  • Danger Poison with skull and crossbones – product is highly toxic by any route of entry into the body.
  • Danger – product is corrosive and can cause irreversible skin or eye irritation.
  • Warning – product is moderately toxic if exposure is by mouth, skin, or inhalation.
  • Caution – product is slightly toxic if exposure is by mouth, skin, or inhalation; or a slight skin or eye irritation.

4 - EPA Registration Number and Establishment Number: 

  • Indicates that the pesticide product has been registered and its label was approved for sale by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and identifies the facility that produced the product.


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5 - Statement of Practical Treatment (first aid): 

  • Tells users and medical professionals the type of emergency first aid needed in case of an accident.

6 - Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): 

  • Specific information outlining the minimum protective clothing and gear that must be worn during handling, mixing, and application of the product. 

7 - Environmental Hazards:

  • Directions for users to protect their safety and the safety of the environmen.



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8 -  Directions for Use:

  • Proper mixing, handling, and application procedures. 
  • Pests controlled

  • Crops approved for use

  • Application use rates

  • Application methods and timing

  • Application equipment and calibration

  • Product mixing with other pesticides and adjuvants in water, fertilizer, or irrigation water.

  • Drift management, resistance management, and other pesticide-specific information.

9 - Storage and Disposal

  • Guidelines for proper storage, disposal, and handling spills.



This specimen label is provided for general information only.

  • This pesticide product may not be available or approved for sale or use in your area.

  • It is your responsibility to follow all Federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding the use of pesticides.

  • Before using any pesticide, be sure the intended use is approved in your state or locality.

  • Your state or locality may require additional precautions and instructions for use of this product that are not included here.

  • Bayer does not guarantee the completeness or accuracy of this specimen label. The information found in this label may differ from the information found on other product labels. You must have the EPA approved labeling with you at the time of use and must read and follow all label directions.

  • You should not base any use of a similar product on the precautions, instructions for use, or other information you find here.

  • Always follow the precautions and instructions for use on the label of the pesticide you are using.





University of Illinois. Labels and labeling. Pesticide Safety Education program.

Michigan State University. 2001. Reading a pesticide label. Extension Bulletin E-2182.

University of Nevada. Understanding pesticide labels. Fact Sheet 11-38.

Gripp, S. 2020. What you need to know about reading a pesticide label. Pennsylvania State University Extension. https://extension.psu.edu/what-you-need-to-know-about-reading-a-pesticide-label.



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