Pesticides and biocides

Approved pesticide and biocide products and qualifications

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.

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 the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

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 the NIEA.

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. For advice on training requirements, read the DAERA code of good agricultural practice.

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.

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 CRD.

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

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