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Pesticides: Who Can Use

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies all pesticides in one of two regulatory categories: general use and restricted use. A general-use pesticide means that any person who can read and understand the label may purchase and use the product. A restricted-use pesticide requires a pesticide applicator’s license to purchase and use. The words "restricted use" are printed on the label, and the retailer must see proof of license before selling the product.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture certifies two types of applicators to purchase and use restricted use products; private applicators and commercial applicators.

A private applicator is a person who applies restricted-use pesticides for producing an agricultural commodity on their own land, or land they rented. In Colorado, farmers, ranchers, vegetable and fruit growers, nursery and greenhouse growers are classified as private applicators. To obtain a private applicator license in the state of Colorado, a person must pass an open book test.

Commercial applicator certification is required for applicators that receive compensation for applying any type of pesticide, general OR restricted use, on another person's property. To obtain a commercial applicator license in the state of Colorado, a person must pass a proctored exam for every category where they will be making applications. A commercial applicator may hold credentials in several categories such as turf, ornamental, right-of-way or structural. Colorado has over 26 categories for commercial application.

Both private and commercial pesticide applicator licenses are valid for three years, expiring on the applicator’s birthdate. To be eligible to renew, the applicator must have earned the appropriate Continuing Education Credits before their license expires. You can learn more about pesticide applicator licensing on the CSU Colorado Environmental Pesticide Education Program website.

Any business who provides pesticide applications on another person’s property must be registered with the Colorado Department of Agriculture and have at least one licensed Commercial applicator - Qualified Supervisor on their staff.

For more information, see the following Colorado State University Extension fact sheet(s).


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Updated Wednesday, September 24, 2014