Descanso Mulching

Pesticide Safety Training

Any County or contractor employee who applies pesticides shall receive documented training before applying pesticides and then annually thereafter[1]. The training must cover the minimum topics outlined in Appendix B for each pesticide or chemically similar group of pesticides to be used. This section is not required if the employee is currently certified by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation as a Qualified Applicator[2] in the appropriate categories.

County departments whose employees handle pesticides shall have a written disciplinary program for any employee who fails to adhere to the requirements contained in the training program including use of Personal Protective Equipment. This Program contains information designed to help county employees and vendors manage pests with minimum impact to the environment, especially surface water. Familiarity with the Program does not constitute the safety training required by state law.


In addition to the safety training described in the previous section and outlined in Appendix B, it is required that any pesticide application performed by a County employee must be done by or under the direct supervision of a Qualified Applicator certified by the State of California, Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) in the appropriate category(ies). The following is a brief description of the relevant categories, each of which allows the certificate holder to apply or supervise the application of restricted (except Category Q) or general pesticides, substances, methods or devices to control pests in designated areas/situations:

  • Category A (Residential, Industrial, and Institutional)
    • Residential areas and around households and immediate environments
    • Industrial establishments, such as packing houses, food manufacturing and processing plants, warehouse, grain elevators and factories
    • Institutions such as, schools, hospitals, libraries, auditoriums, and office buildings
    • Landscaping of walkways, parking lots, and other areas adjacent to these buildings
    • Non-landscaped outside areas, such as storage yards, tank farms or electrical substations that are directly related to the operation of buildings or facilities
    • Treatment of cooling towers and evaporative condensers
    • Sanitizing institutional potable lines
  • Category B (Landscape Maintenance)
    • Natural or planted ornamental and turf landscaped areas and other outside areas around buildings
    • Recreation areas, schoolyards, vacant lots, storage yards, greenbelts, golf courses, cemeteries, parks, landscaped street medians, sidewalk areas and walkways, and parking lots directly related to landscaped areas
    • Landscaped areas in enclosed shopping malls and indoor plants
  • Category C (Right-of-way)
    • Maintenance of roads, highways, power lines, telephone lines, pipelines, canals, railroads, and similar sites
    • Landscaped right-of-way areas
  • Category E (Forest)
    • Forest, forest nurseries, and forest seed-producing areas
    • Site preparations for tree planting, conifer release, brush control projects, and stump treatment in forestry management
  • Category F (Aquatic)
    • Standing or running water
  • Category I (Animal Agriculture)
    • Animals and the facilities in which animals are confined
  • Category K (Health Related)
    • Official programs for the management and control of pests having medical and public health importance, such as mosquito abatement and plague vector suppression
  • Category N (Sewer Line Root)
    • Roots in sewer lines
  • Category P (Microbial Pest Control)
    • Disinfect potable water systems
    • Industrial cooling towers and evaporative condensers
  • Category Q (Maintenance Gardener)
    • Outdoor ornamental and garden areas surrounding public structures, such as buildings, brick walls, fountains, fences, and statues
    • Outdoor ornamental and garden areas surrounding commercial parks, such as offices, restaurants, warehouses, factories, stores, shopping centers, malls
    • Parks, golf course, cemeteries, but only on ornamental or turf plantings near buildings that are distinct and separate from the plantings that constitute open space landscaping in a park, golf course, or cemetery itself

Written Recommendations

The use of pesticides in certain sites is considered a non-production agricultural use of the pesticide. Examples of non-production agricultural use sites are listed below. For most uses within any of these sites, a written pest control recommendation must be prepared in advance of the pesticide application and a copy given to the property operator.

  • Cemeteries
  • Ditches and ditch banks
  • Farm roads
  • Field borders
  • Ground water recharge ponds
  • Highway medians
  • Irrigation systems
  • Lakes, rivers and streams
  • Parks
  • Railroad shoulders
  • Recreation areas
  • Reservoirs
  • Roadsides
  • Rights-of-way
  • Uncultivated agricultural land

According to state law, written recommendations may only be prepared by a CDPR licensed Pest Control Advisor or by designated employees within ACWM. Each recommendation shall be signed and dated, and include the following:

  • The name and dosage of each pesticide to be used
  • The identity of each pest to be controlled
  • Criteria used for determining the need for the recommended treatment
  • Certification that alternatives and mitigation measures that would substantially lessen any significant adverse impact on the environment have been considered and, if feasible, adopted
  • The owner or operator, location of, and acreage to be treated
  • Concentration and volume per acre or other units
  • The suggested schedule, time, or conditions for the pesticide application or other control method
  • A warning of the possibility of damages by the pesticide application that reasonably should have been known by the agricultural pest control adviser to exist
  • The signature and address of the person making the recommendation, the date, and the name of the business such person represents (unless prepared by ACWM)

Recommendations prepared by an ACWM biologist contain the following additional environmental protection safeguards:

  • A determination if the proposed treatment is in a State-designated groundwater protection area, and, if so, any mitigation measures necessary to prevent leaching or runoff

A written recommendation is not required for Structural or some Industrial/Institutional uses in certain sub-areas within a non-production agricultural use site. See Section 20 for more information or contact ACWM for guidance.


Certain pesticides require a Restricted Materials Permit issued by ACWM before they can be used in one of the non-production agricultural use sites listed in Table 3 above. This includes rodenticides with strychnine, zinc phosphide, aluminum phosphide, and certain anticoagulants as active ingredients as well as any herbicide listed by CDPR as having been detected in groundwater. The complete listing of materials requiring a Restricted Materials Permit is found in Section 6400 of the California Code of Regulations.  It is a good idea to check with ACWM before applying a pesticide in any non-production agricultural use site to ensure compliance with permits and other pesticide-use requirements.

Pre-Application Notice Requirements

Before applying any pesticide which requires a Restricted Materials Permit referenced above, applicators must file a NOTICE OF INTENT TO APPLY A RESTRICTED MATERIAL to ACWM at least 24 hours before the scheduled application.

Pesticide Use Records and Reporting

Registered Structural Pest Control companies and any person who uses a pesticide for an agricultural use (including on one of the non-production agriculture use sites listed in Table 3) must maintain records of the pesticides they have used in Los Angeles County. The records shall include the following information for each pest control operation:

  • Date of application
  • Name of the operator of the property treated
  • Location of the property treated
  • Site treated
  • Total acreage or units treated at the site
  • The pesticide(s) used including the US EPA Registration Number or State registration number which is on the label, and the amount used.

Each of the persons required to maintain records shall report a summary of the monthly use in Los Angeles County to ACWM by the 10th day of the following month. If no pesticides are used during a month, a report stating this fact (Negative Pesticide Use Report) must be submitted to ACWM. Appendix C has an example of the required pesticide use reporting form. The ACWM Pesticide Regulatory Division is available to answer any questions about pesticide use reporting. At the moment, these forms can still be submitted by mail or fax; however, it is strongly suggested that they be submitted electronically using the CalAgPermit System. By contacting ACWM’s Pesticide Regulatory Division, you will be issued a password and be instructed on how to set up an electronic filing account.

Going Low! (Lowest Risk and Lowest Rates)

Whenever a pesticide is used, the selection from among the range of effective products should be made based on the lowest risk to people, water, natural insect predators, and pollinators. Reducing the risk to water, natural predators and pollinators is discussed elsewhere in this document. For people’s safety, the lowest risk will almost always mean selection of a pesticide in Category 3 with the Signal Word CAUTION. Signal Words are required to be on the front of every pesticide label and Service Container. They give a one or two word indication of how hazardous the material is to people. Pesticide products with the Signal Word CAUTION are the lowest risk. A WARNING Signal Word means the product is considered moderately toxic and a DANGER or DANGER POISON Signal Word means the product could seriously harm or even kill a person if not handled properly.

Pesticides come in ready-to-use formulations or as concentrates that require mixing with water or some other diluent/carrier. Concentrates almost always have a range of dilution rates. The highest dilution rate (lowest concentration) of the product that will still be effective should be selected. Under no circumstances shall the maximum concentration on the label be exceeded. Be aware that some common pesticide products have limitations on the number of times they can be used within a specified time period, or, they have a cap on the amount of Active Ingredient that can be used within a one year period. Restrictions on the amount/timing established on a pesticide label should never be exceeded.

If a pesticide application, or more critically, if a series of pesticide applications don’t appear to be working, something is wrong and additional applications should be discontinued until the situation can be reviewed by a qualified person. The failure may be related to incorrect pest identification, incorrect product selection, inappropriate timing (wrong time of year), life stage of the pest, or improper application.

[1] Except use of consumer products, packaged for consumer use, at amounts not greater that typical consumer amounts.

[2] Qualified Applicator Certificate (QAC) or Qualified Applicator License (QAL)