Brief History of Federal and State (SC) Pesticide Regulation and Use

Regulatory History

Rachel Carson, author of Silent SpringPesticide usage has resulted in numerous benefits over time including decreases in vector-borne diseases (such as Malaria) and increased food production to feed our ever growing population.1

Pesticides entered the political light after the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, which prompted President John F. Kennedy to direct the Presidential Scientific Advisory Committee to study and make recommendations on the use of pesticides and for the gradual phase-out of all "persistent toxic pesticides."

Multiple legislative efforts (e.g., CAA, CWA) and regulatory initiatives (e.g., EPA) in the U.S. were passed into law with the intention of preventing further human and environmental harm due to widespread pesticide usage. These efforts made great strides towards improving air and water quality, but new chemicals emerge on the market every year making it as important to ensure safety by keeping up-to-date data for all pesticides. Furthermore, persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals (e.g., DDT, PCBs, PBDEs) that have been now been phased out, stayed in heavy use for decades and therefore remain problematic in modern times as their half-lives are on the order of years.

Regulations and Agencies

There is substantial pesticide use in residential areas (25% of all pesticide use), including use for home, lawn and garden pests, ponds, turfgrass, and right-of-way areas.1 Pesticides are regulated under Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) and are enforced by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the federal level and undergo a tiered toxicological testing regime to ensure safety before products go onto the market (If label instructions are followed).2,3

Therefore, all pesticides currently on the market are considered safe by the EPA if applied according to the label.3

However, the toxicity of pesticides varies widely (even among the same classes of pesticides) among organisms and with factors such as age or live stage. It is therefore imperative that applicators identify the potential pest(s) problem, determine if cultural, physical or biological controls are an option or if chemical controls are necessary, and then make an informed decision before purchasing and use occurs.

Please see more in the Pesticide Risk section to learn more on how pesticide regulatory decisions are made. Further, navigate to the Useful Links menu to find comprehensive information on the laws governing pesticides in the Untied States and in the state of South Carolina.

Learn More About Pesticides (the Basics)