Environmental & Human Health

The Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) is Maine’s lead agency for all pesticide use, registration, and enforcement. This page is intended to be a directory for questions and comments on pesticide use and potential effects. Any additional questions regarding environmental or human health can contact the BPC office at pesticides@maine.gov or 207-287-2731.

Where to Find Information on a Pesticide

  • Reach out to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) for ANY question related to pesticides.
  • Northern New England Poison Center (NNEPC) is our regional poison control. Call or chat with their staff about any health symptom questions you may have from all types of chemical exposures. Call them at 1-800-222-1222, text POISON to 85511, or visit nnepc.org to chat.
  • Additional chemical research databases are linked below in the FAQs.

How to Report a Problem

BPC has field inspectors across the state to investigate pesticide incidents.

  • Concerned about a pesticide application? Please call our office to report inappropriate pesticide use. We cannot take action unless we know about the situation, reports to us can be made anonymously.
  • Call: 207-287-2731
  • Email: Alexander.R.Peacock@maine.gov

Visit our Enforcement page

Pesticide Applications and Notification

There are two ways Mainers can receive information prior to pesticide applications happening adjacent to their home. The first option is self-initiated request for notification, which anyone in Maine can do. The second option is only for non-agricultural applications, where participants are placed on a registry to recieve notification.

  1. Request for Notification
  2. Public Notification Registry

Maine's Efforts to Minimize Reliance on Pesticides

In the State of Maine 22 MRSA §1471-X outlines the state's policy on public and private initiatives to minimize reliance on pesticides.

“It is the policy of the State to work to find ways to use the minimum amount of pesticides needed to effectively control targeted pests in all areas of application. … shall promote the principles and the implementation of integrated pest management and other science-based technology to minimize reliance on pesticides…. “

Additional Integrated Pest Management (IPM) resources:

Frequently Asked Questions

I want to know technical information about (insert pesticide name) that my applicator wants to apply?  +

If you have the brand name try looking the product up on our registered pesticide portal, this will allow you to find out the the active ingredient name(s) for all products that are legal for use in Maine. If the product isn’t a Maine registered product, the database hosted by NPIC can be helpful.

If you know the active ingredient name(s) try looking the compound up at these different websites:

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Is it true organic farmers use pesticides? +

Maine BPC does not directly interact with the rules and certifications associated with organic farming, except for when talking about pesticides. Yes, there are many types of pesticides organic farmers are allowed to use.

Our agency does not keep track of which pesticides are for organic vs. conventional use -all pesticides are regulated the same way. Organic farmers applying anything more than water or fertilizer must be licensed with our agency just like other growers. The products used by organic farmers must be registered for use in the state of Maine in order to be legal, just like other pesticide products. In many cases, the organic designation does equate to a lower risk product, however, pesticide products are often intended to kill living organisms and care must be taken when handling all pesticides regardless of designation.

The rules supporting organic designations in the United States are run out of the National Organic Program (NOP) which is part of the US Department of Agriculture.

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How do I get rid of browntail moth caterpillars? +

Why are they called “inerts” if they help pesticides kill pests? +

As packaged and sold pesticide products are mixtures of the active ingredient which has the toxic action of the product plus other supporting ingredients. The term inert has been replaced with the term other to make clear that pesticide products are complex mixtures in which the supporting ingredients are often essential for the product to work as intended. EPA reviews other/inert ingredients that are part of pesticide products. An overview of inert regulations is provided on the EPA webpage.

While companies do not share the specific ingredients of their products with the public they must disclose ingredients to EPA as part of product registration review. EPA maintains a list of all possible other/inert ingredients used in the United States that can be queried.

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If pesticides are toxic why are people allowed to use them? +

This FAQ is too small to give this question its due space. In pesticides, the harm from an active ingredient is always determined by looking at two things:

  1. The exposure or how much is getting into people and the environment and;
  2. The hazard or the innate ability of the compound to cause harm.

Risk is the product of exposure and harm together. Alcohol is a great mental tool to think about this question. Alcohol is a known carcinogen, it causative for fatty liver disease and liver cirrhosis, it is associated with metabolic syndrome, and it is widely known to contribute to behavioral issues and addiction. Alcohol is used in many industrial processes and is an excellent solvent. Alcohol (as ethanol) is an active ingredient in many registered pesticides with disinfectant uses. And yet, how many of us have baby pictures of ourselves holding a bottle of beer? The exposure to the alcohol, which is based on how strong the drink is and how many you have, determines the potential for harm. Most people do not consider eating a cookie made with vanilla (mostly all are diluted in alcohol) to be a high-risk activity, but, in reality, that is a measurable dose of a known carcinogen that goes into every batch.

In some areas of our lives we accept more risk than in others and the decision often stems from each person’s own sense of the benefit; for many a fresh warm just-out-of-the-oven cookie give us a pleasure benefit in a way that rapidly dissolves fears of risk of cancer, tooth decay, and weight gain.

Each time someone applies a pesticide, be it an insect repellent or part of whole field fumigation, they should balance the risks and benefits prior to making the application.

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I want more detailed information about a pesticide so that I can make a choice between products. +

One thing you might consider is reaching out to NPIC (1-800-858-7378 or npic@ace.orst.edu). Their staff is trained to answer just about any pesticide question you can imagine. They can answer questions running from health effects to application guidelines and more.

Perhaps, you would like more information on a few specific chemicals to compare to one another? Each person and each situation calls for a focus on different aspects of risk. If your house is on the water, drift, leaching, and run-off become very important. If you recently recovered from cancer, you may want to make sure to prioritize carcinogenic potential. Pesticide registrations require publication of information on degradation rate; uptake into organisms; ability to leach in soil; ability to damage organ systems; carcinogenic potential; handling hazards; effects to aquatic plants, invertebrates, & fishes; potential for volatilization; effects to growth; and several more categories. The PPDB webpage is a great place to find the data to start comparing different active ingredients.

The percent active ingredient is unlikely to be a useful number for comparison because most products are diluted prior to use. That said, highly concentrated products carry higher risks to the applicators handling those products. Check pesticide labels for the required personal protective equipment (PPE) to be used with mixing and loading products.

Helpful links

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How much pesticide is being used in Maine? +

Pesticide Dealers and Commercial Applicators are required to submit data annually to the BPC reporting sales and use respectively. These data have been entered into our database and are available for use on this webpage. Over time we anticipate adding in acreage treated as well as a listing of the specific products associated with each of the active ingredients.

Chemical names have been standardized and reduced to a common chemical name; for example, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid is noted as 2,4-D. Likewise, all forms and salts of 2,4-D are lumped together simply as 2,4-D.

Currently, all liquid products reported are converted to pounds by multiplying the volume in gallons by ten to approximate the density of the contents. Future work will include extracting the volume weight reported on each pesticide label to better represent accurate quantities.

Pesticide Use in Maine for Years 2018 to 2021 (XLSX)

Notes about these data:

USE DATA - This dataset is inherently unreliable; however, it serves the purpose of evaluating annual trends in pesticide usage statewide. The data reported here are provided directly as reported by commercially licensed pesticide applicators. No attempt has been made to ground-truth the accuracy of these summary numbers against the applicator’s log books.

Only data from commercial applicators are included. Commercial applicators are those who receive compensation for pesticide applications, who treat spaces available to the public, and any governmental employee making pesticide applications. Specifically, privately licensed applicators are not required to submit annual summaries. Private licensed applicators include growers applying pesticides to their own land; this includes those with ag basic licenses as well.

SALES DATA - General use pesticide dealers report sales annually, this reporting specifies by EPA Registration Number the number of units sold and the weight of each unit. Restricted use pesticide dealers similar information broken up by to whom the product was sold. Those records are submitted as sold to other distributors/dealers as well as, as sold to consumers. If a dealer sells to a dealer and the second dealer sells to a consumer, at the state level, this chain of sales reports the sale of a single container twice. This creates the possibility of these records artificially inflating the total volume sold.

More details of distributor/dealer certification and licensing requirements

If you have questions about this data set, please contact the board’s toxicologist at pesticides@maine.gov.

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