Department of Pesticide Regulation
Secretary for Environmental Protection
To: County Agricultural Commissioners
Certification and Training Rulemaking: Private Applicator Questions and Answers #2
The Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) revised regulations related to the certification and training of pesticide applicators in Title 3, California Code of Regulations (3 CCR) Division 6. The regulations become effective on January 1, 2024. The changes pertain to the certification of commercial and private pesticide applicators (“certified applicators”), development and submittal of continuing education (CE) courses required for license or certificate renewal, and supervision and training of non-certified applicators. The changes align California’s applicator certification program with federal regulations found in Title 40, Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR) Part 171.
This letter revises the 2023 private applicator certificate (PAC) renewal cycle responses in Questions 1 and 2 in ENF letter 23-03. This letter also responds to additional questions on regulatory changes affecting private applicators in the approved Certification and Training rulemaking package (DPR file #22-003).
- Q: How may PAC holders expiring on 12/31/2023 (last names beginning with ‘R-Z’) renew their PAC?
A: These individuals may renew by one of the following options:
- Take and pass the revised initial Private Applicator Certificate Examination (version released on October 1, 2022).
- Existing PAC holders who have not yet taken the revised initial exam can renew their certificate using either CE hours, or by taking the existing recertification exam. This option is only available until December 31, 2023. If renewing this way, individuals must meet the revised requirements at their subsequent renewal (i.e., when their PAC expires in 2026) by taking and passing the revised initial examination.
Note: Consistent with 3 CCR section 6582(a)(1), a request to renew a valid PAC CANNOT be submitted before September 2, 2023, which is 120 days prior to the 12/31/2023 expiration date. In addition, consistent with section 6582(c)(1), option 1 must be used if renewal is submitted January 1, 2024 or after, regardless if CE hours are obtained prior to certificate expiration.
Beginning on January 1, 2024, all PAC holders are prohibited from using or supervising the use of fumigants until they acquire the appropriate new and revised certifications. See the responses to Questions 3 and 4 in ENF letter 23-03 for additional information.
- Individuals who have taken and passed the revised initial Private Applicator Certificate Examination on or after October 1, 2022 can renew their PAC following the procedures in 3 CCR sections 6582 and 6584.
Burrowing Vertebrate Pest Fumigation (BVF) Certification
- Q: Who should obtain the BVF certification?
A: Beginning on January 1, 2024, private applicators will need the BVF certification prior to using or supervising the use of restricted materials labeled to control burrowing vertebrate pests on property owned, leased, or rented by them or their employer. In general, these are products that contain aluminum or magnesium phosphide which are labeled for this use.
ONLY private applicators who have taken and passed the revised initial Private Applicator Certificate Examination (version released on October 1, 2022) are eligible to take the BVF certification examination.
As noted in the response to Question 4 in ENF letter 23-03, private applicators who intend to use any other type of pesticide labeled as a fumigant must obtain a Qualified Applicator Certificate or License (QAC or QAL) in the appropriate fumigant use category(ies). For example, if the individual intends to use or supervise the use of a pesticide at an on-farm post-harvest commodity fumigation using aluminum phosphide or sulfuryl fluoride, they need to obtain a QAC or QAL with Category M (Non-Soil Fumigation).
- Q: Does the BVF certification apply to the use of non-restricted products, such as those containing carbon dioxide, gas cartridges, or carbon monoxide pest control devices?
A: No. Like the PAC, the BVF certification does not apply to these products as these are not California restricted materials. A private applicator does not need to hold a PAC and the BVF certification to purchase, use, or supervise the use of these products or devices.
For information on CAC authority to require permits for non-restricted pesticides and applicability of applicator supervision, see Compendium Volume 3 Chapter 5 (Restricted Materials and Permitting).
- Q: Will there be changes to fumigant labels to accommodate California’s BVF certification?
A: DPR is not aware of any current plans by U.S. EPA to change label language due to the changes in 40 CFR Part 171.
- Q: Will the BVF certification examination be available in Spanish?
A: Yes. The BVF certification examination will be available in both English and Spanish.
- Q: Will the BVF certification require renewal every three years?
A: Yes. The BVF certification is tied to an individual’s PAC. An individual’s renewal cycle is based on their last name. Both certificates will have the same expiration date.
Consistent with 3 CCR section 6582(a)(2), PAC holders with the BVF certification may renew their certification by either 1) taking and passing the PAC recertification examination AND the BVF recertification examination, or 2) through the completion of CE as specified in 3 CCR section 6584.
- Q: Will there be a new PAC card?
A: Yes. DPR will provide a new PAC card template to all CAC offices. This new card will be different from the existing card and indicate if an individual has taken and passed the revised initial Private Applicator Certificate Examination and, if applicable, obtained the BVF certification.
- Q: For renewals in 2023 using CE, should CACs use the new PAC card or old one?
A: Consistent with the response to Question 1, PAC holders expiring 12/31/2023 and renewing by CE or by taking and passing the existing PAC recertification examination, must receive the old PAC card. This will allow CAC staff to quickly and easily determine if the individual’s certification is consistent with 40 CFR part 171.
- Q: Please clarify the issue date required to be stated on the back side of the PAC card.
A: On DPR’s new PAC card, there are two CAC signature fields (one for the private applicator certification and one for the BVF certification) with one issue date field. The issue date stated on a PAC card is the date a PAC card is issued by the CAC and, if applicable, the date the BVF certification is issued. This may be one issue date (if the PAC and BVF certification are issued on the same date), or two different issue dates (if the PAC and BVF certification are issued at separate times).
For example, an individual takes and passes the revised initial PAC examination (version released on October 1, 2022) on December 1, 2023. CAC staff would issue the new PAC card to the individual, sign the card in the PAC space and add the issue date where indicated. On December 8, 2023, the PAC holder takes and passes the BVF certification examination. *CAC staff would collect the issued card and provide the individual with an updated new PAC card. CAC staff would copy over the information including the issue date from the December 1, 2023 issued card, print the name of the county or CAC staff who signed the initial PAC card in the PAC signature space, check the box on the front indicating the BVF certificate has been obtained, sign the card in the BVF certification space on the back, and add an additional issue date in the space provided.
For renewals in subsequent years by CE (or in situations where the individual passes both certification or recertification exams the same day), both signatures would be obtained at the same time (in the PAC and BVF spaces) but only one issue date would be necessary.
*If the BVF certificate is issued in a different county than the original PAC, the county that issues the BVF should notify the county who issued the initial PAC card so they are able to update their records.
- Q: Will a private applicator be required to pay a fee if they need to obtain a QAC or QAL for fumigant use activities?
A: Yes, all individuals who apply for a QAC or QAL license or certificate must pay an application fee. Please refer to DPR’s website for the current fees.
- Q: Are there any new requirements for property operators who hire a pest control business (PCB) to provide fumigant services on property they own or lease?
A: For a property operator who hires a PCB to conduct soil or non-soil fumigations on their property, there are no new licensing requirements for the property operator. The PCB is responsible for obtaining the applicable new fumigant category(ies) and complying with the new supervision and recordkeeping requirements.
However, there are situations where a property operator may provide employees to work under the supervision of the PCB applying a restricted material (for example, a grower’s employees may work as shovelers for soil fumigations). In that situation, the certified applicator supervising the application must verify that the employee’s training records document their training on the restricted material being used and applicable use situation(s). To facilitate this verification, 3 CCR section 6724(e)(1) requires the employer to make their handler training records accessible to the certified applicator-in-charge of the restricted material application.
For dual employment situations as described above, follow existing guidance in determining which party to cite for potential pesticide use violations.
If you have any questions, please contact the Enforcement Branch Liaison assigned to your county.
Original signature by:
Chief, Enforcement Headquarters Branch
Chief, Enforcement Regional Offices Branch
cc: Mr. Joe Marade, DPR County/State Liaison
Enforcement Branch Liaison