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Department of Pesticide Regulation

The Great Seal of the State of California
Brian R. Leahy
  Edmund G. Brown Jr.
August 17, 2012
  ENF 12-16
County Agricultural Commissioners



Soil fumigant labels are being revised nationwide to add safety measures for agricultural workers and bystanders. In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) required registrants to make certain label revisions to their soil fumigant products (phase 1). In 2012, U.S. EPA is requiring additional label revisions (phase 2) on product labels released for sale after December 1, 2012.

The soil fumigant label revisions affect products containing methyl bromide, metam sodium, metam potassium, chloropicrin (including combination with 1,3-D), and dazomet. The U.S. EPA-approved labels for these products are currently being reviewed in California and are anticipated to be approved by DPR by December 1, 2012.

Highlights of the U.S. EPA-mandated phase 2 label revisions:

  • Establishes site/application-specific buffer zones around treated fields.
  • Gives buffer zone "credits" to users who employ practices to reduce emissions or for site conditions that reduce emissions.
  • Requires buffer zone posting for bystanders.
  • Requires that the Fumigant Management Plan (FMP) include the phase 2 requirements
  • Requires registrants to provide training information to emergency first responders.
  • Requires fumigators to notify neighbors or take other site-specific measures such as monitoring.
  • Requires the supervising certified applicators to take the registrant-developed online training approved by the U.S. EPA. As an alternative, states may certify a soil fumigation category (exam) or administer their own training and exam.
  • Requires registrants to prepare and disseminate information for handlers working under the supervising certified applicator.
  • Requires registrants to provide community outreach programs and information.
  • Requires fumigators to notify state and tribal lead agencies about applications they plan to conduct.

For more background information about U.S. EPA's label revisions, see their website. The website also contains numerous training modules.

California-specific activities prompted by phase 2 labels:

In California, as in other states, the U.S. EPA label must be followed. States are allowed to impose requirements more restrictive than those found on the U.S. EPA's labels, but not less restrictive. For many years, California has imposed additional restrictions through legislation and regulations, requirements for licenses and certifications for businesses and applicators, and development of recommended permit conditions for use of federal and California-restricted pesticides.

The phase 2 label revisions will have an impact on how soil fumigants are used and regulated in California. We will not know the full extent of these changes and how existing regulations and recommended permit conditions will apply or need to be modified until the review of the Phase 2 labels is completed.

  • DPR plans to conduct statewide training sessions for CAC staff within the next few months.
  • The DPR Fumigant Resource Center website will be updated with the phase 2 labels.
  • For Category O licensees, DPR received approval from U.S. EPA to allow California applicator licensing Category O to replace the registrant training requirement. The DPR Pest Management and Licensing Branch will be sending in October an Addendum to the current soil fumigant study guide to all current Category O licensees that highlights the U.S. EPA label revisions. Those licensees will read the addendum and sign and return the included postcard to DPR.
  • Private Applicators must still take the online registrant training as required by the label. That training is fumigant specific, must be completed before using the fumigant, and must be completed every three (3) years.
  • DPR will determine if regulatory changes, or guidance manual changes, are needed where new labeling supersedes existing California requirements.
  • Effective December 1, 2012, registrants can only release product with new labels for sale. However, product in the channels of trade bearing old labels is still allowed.
  • DPR is developing a question/answer letter to resolve specific implementation issues raised by CACs during the training sessions.

Previous U.S. EPA phase 1 label revisions:

For information about previous DPR comments on U.S. EPA-required soil fumigant label changes, see DPR letters ENF 11-19 (overview of phase 1), ENF 11-25/WHS 11-03 (Questions and Answers for phase 1), and ENF 12-04 (gloves) .

If you have questions, please contact your Enforcement Branch Liaison assigned to your county or reference the DPR Fumigant Resource website.

Original Signature by:
George Farnsworth
Chief, Enforcement Branch


cc:   Mr. Jim Shattuck, DPR Interim Agricultural Commissioner Liaison
        Enforcement Branch Liaisons

1001 I Street  ·   P.O. Box 4015  ·  Sacramento, California 95812-4015  ·
A Department of the California Environmental Protection Agency