Pesticide Risk Management

By their nature as substances that in many cases are designed to kill pests, pesticides can pose risks to humans and to the environment. It is possible to reduce those risks in several ways. For example:

  • EPA gives priority in its registration program for conventional chemical pesticides to pesticides that meet reduced risk criteria: low-impact on human health, low toxicity to non-target organisms (birds, fish, and plants), low potential for groundwater contamination, lower use rates, low pest resistance potential, and compatibility with Integrated Pest Management. To review the EPA’s reduced risk criteria, visit
  • Some pesticides are less risky, for example, many biological pesticides that are derived from such natural materials as animals, plants, bacteria, and certain minerals pose a lower risk. For example, canola oil and baking soda have pesticidal applications and are considered biopesticides. However, other plant-derived pesticides such as nicotine can be quite toxic. For more information about biopesticides, visit
  • EPA is reviewing older pesticides to ensure that they meet current safety standards. The results of these reviews often include actions to reduce risks from pesticides, such as establishing or enlarging buffers to protect surface water bodies, changing the amount or frequency of use of a pesticide to reduce exposure, limiting use of the pesticide during periods when a non-pest species might be affected, eliminating or modifying uses that pose unacceptable risks to people, particularly children. A complete list of pesticides and review status with the EPA is available at:
  • In many situations, there may be nonchemical methods to control pests. EPA recommends considering and using these methods as part of an overall pest management strategy, often called Integrated Pest Management. For more information, visit

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,