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revised April 15, 2009

Pesticide Evaluation & Safety

How does the federal government evaluate pest control products?

The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) bases its decisions through risk assessment. The risk assessment process uses a wide range of sources of information and relies on the judgment of scientific experts.

When a pesticide manufacturer wants to use a new chemical as a pesticide it must give the PMRA the information that lets the Agency judge the safety of the product.

Before a pesticide is considered for registration in Canada, it must go through extensive testing to determine:

  1. Its potential risks to human health.
  2. Its potential risks to the environment, and
  3. Its value.

The PMRA determines a pesticide’s value by measuring its effectiveness — seeing if it does what it claims to do, and how much of it should be applied to get the job done.

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Are the risks of older pesticides being addressed?

The PMRA is reviewing pesticides that were registered before January 1, 1995 to see if they meet today's health and environmental protection standards.

Most of the pesticides we use today on our lawns were registered long before the new standards came into effect. All have since been re-evaluated.

The PMRA has identified eight ‘older’ pesticides to be re-evaluated. These include four insecticides (chlorpyrifos, diazinon, malathion and carbaryl) and four herbicides (2,4-D, MCPA, dicamba, and mecoprop).

Visit Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency website for more information on the status of these re-evaluations.

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Does federal registration of a product mean that it’s safe?

We naturally assume that if a product is federally regulated, then it’s safe.

It’s more accurate to say that the PMRA knows that there are risks associated with pesticide products, but the risks are acceptable and can be managed through labelling.

This is what people mean when they say, “pesticides are safe when used as directed”.

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Revised: April 15, 2009

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