Before you use any pesticide or biocide, you must make sure that it has been approved by the correct regulating body:

  • the Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD) - part of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) - regulates plant protection products and biocidal products
  • the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency regulates medicines and products used on humans, such as anti-headlice treatments and certain skin disinfectants
  • the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) regulates veterinary medicinal products, including sheep dips and other products used to treat animals.

You must not use any banned pesticides or biocides.

You must only use the product as instructed on the label. If you want to use the product in a different way, contact the relevant approval authority for advice.

The HSE provides a database of pesticides (includes herbicides, fungicides, molluscicides etc.) where you can find:

  • if a product is still approved
  • approved products for specific purposes
  • details of application rates and methods of delivery
  • alternative products for a range of applications.

and a wide range of other information relating to pesticide use.

HSE: Pesticides Monitor Search

Check if your pesticides are persistent organic pollutants (POPs)

Some pesticides are classed as POPs - chemicals that do not break down easily or quickly in the environment. The use of POPs is being phased out, and some are already banned in the UK. The following pesticides are classed as POPs:

  • aldrin
  • chlordane
  • chlordecone
  • dieldrin
  • endrin
  • heptachlor
  • hexachlorobenzene (HCB)
  • hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) - including lindane
  • mirex
  • toxaphene
  • dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT)

There are some situations when you may be allowed to use POPs. If you are allowed and you have more than 50 kilograms of POPs or POP-containing substances, you must tell your environmental regulator. If you have any of these pesticides, or if you need to find out about how to use or dispose of POPs, you should contact your environmental regulator.

Contact your environmental regulator

Training and certificates for using plant protection products

If you use pesticides or biocides as part of your job you must have the correct training, instruction and guidance.

In Northern Ireland you should read section 2 of the Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products

DAERA: Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products

In Scotland you should read chapter 9 of the Prevention of Environmental Pollution from Agricultural Activities (PEPFAA) Code of good practice

Scottish Government: The PEPFAA Code

If you employ someone else to apply plant protection products for you, make sure they have the appropriate qualifications to do the job. If you use someone who isn't qualified, you may have to pay to clean up any pollution incidents they cause.

In Northern Ireland and Scotland you must make sure that your pesticide application equipment is tested when five years old. Rucksacks and handheld sprayers are exempt from this regulation but must be kept in good condition. On 26 November 2015 Grandfather Rights expired (they may have applied if you spray on your own or your employers land) and pesticide spraying must always be carried out by someone with the appropriate certificate.

Scottish Government: Changes to pesticide rules

In Northern Ireland, current guidance on changes to pesticide spraying laws, pesticides stores and pesticide product labels is available from DAERA.

DAERA: Pesticide regulations guidance

Be qualified to fumigate

Fumigation is a potentially hazardous process which uses toxic gases to kill pests.

You must hold, or be supervised by someone who holds, a certificate of proficiency for fumigation operators from the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) if you use fumigants such as:

  • phosphine
  • chloropicrin
  • sulfuryl fluoride.

You can now only use methyl bromide in emergencies. You must first gain approval from the Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD).

CRD: Contact details

If you use methyl bromide you or your supervisor must also have completed the specific modules that relate to the work.

British Pest Control Association: Training courses

If you employ someone else to carry out fumigation, check that they are qualified.

HSE: Fumigation operations guidance

Further information

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