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> Health EH Neighbor Notification Law for Pesticides - FAQ

Neighbor Notification Law for Pesticides - FAQ


What is it?

Who do I call to report a violation?

•  For lack of notification (including homeowners who fail to post properties): Tompkins County Health Department (607) 274-6688
•  For inappropriate use of pesticide or drift: Department of Environmental Conservation (607) 753-3095
•  For lack in signage in retail stores: Tompkins County Weights and Measures (607) 274-5523 or the Health Department

Where else can I get information?

•  Cornell Cooperative Extension for general information, and information about low risk pesticides and alternatives to pesticides at (607) 272-2292

The Neighbor Notification Law became effective January 1st, 2003 following adoption by the County Legislature. It adopts the provisions of Title 10 of Article 33 of Environmental Conservation Law. Some important provisions are:

  • Retailers that sell general use pesticides must post an informational sign as close as possible to each display location of such pesticides.
  • Homeowners applying pesticides to ground, trees or shrubs on outdoor property of more than 100 square feet must post visual notification markers around the lawn to warn others of the pesticide application.
  • Commercial pesticide applicators making lawn applications must provide a 48 hour written notice to occupants of all dwellings and occupied structures on abutting property that is within 150 feet of the site of the application.

What is the law for?

The purpose is to allow neighbors to know a lawn application of pesticides is occurring next door to them. They can then take any precautions they feel are necessary, such as keeping children and pets away from the affected lawn; closing doors and windows; or protecting objects such as lawn furniture or pools from a possible spray “drift”.

What kind of sign do retailers have to post?

The sign must be in 16 point bold type, notifying customers that the law is in effect, and giving some basic instructions as how homeowners can comply with the law when they apply pesticides to their property. Details on how retailers can comply can be found on the New York State Department of Conservation (DEC) website at www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dshm/pesticid/retail.pdf using an Adobe? Reader.

What do homeowners have to know?

Homeowners applying any pesticide to the ground, trees or shrubs (not to fruits or vegetables) to areas over 100 square feet must mark the area being treated with markers at least 4 x 5 inches in size, with a minimum of 3/8 inch high letters, at least 12 inches off the ground, every 50 feet along the lawn perimeter (excluding areas with fences or hedges). The markers must include the date and time of the application and instructions not to enter the area or remove the markers for 24 hours. Each marker must include the phrase “PESTICIDE APPLICATION”, “PESTICIDE TREATMENT” or “PESTICIDES APPLIED”. Markers must be placed on the day of application, before treatment, and remain in place for 24 hours. The DEC website www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dshm/pesticid/home.pdf has more detailed information on how homeowners can comply with the law.

Do homeowners need to be certified in pesticide application?

No, but both homeowners and commercial applicators must apply the pesticide exactly according to the label instructions. The label instructions are federal law.

Are requirements the same for commercial applicators?

No. Commercial applicators must be certified by DEC Category 3A, Ornamentals and Turf. They must give neighbors a written notice 48 hours before application. The notice must identify the applicator, including business registration number or pesticide applicator certification number, the date of application, two alternative dates, the EPA registration number for each pesticide applied. The notice will include the National Pesticide Telecommunications Network number (1-800-858-7378) or the New York State Department of Health Center for Health Information Line (1-800-4458-1158) for more information on pesticides. The DEC website www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dshm/pesticid/appl.pdf has more information.

What about apartment complexes and shopping malls?

Commercial applicators must provide a copy of notice to the owner or agents, who will post the notice in a conspicuous location at least 24 hours prior to the proposed lawn application, visible to all individuals who enter the structure. Neighbors with boundaries 150 feet or less from the treated area must still be notified in writing.

Is the 48 hour notification required for any and all pesticides?

No. There are many cases where commercial applicators are not required to provide 48 hour written notification. (Posting properties is still required) Exemptions include: agricultural, greenhouse and cemetery applications; spot treatments of less than 9 square feet using containers smaller than 32 oz.; indoor pest control; emergency applications when public health is threatened; use of exempt pesticides; applications authorized by municipal agencies on public properties; and pesticides applied by residential property owners.

If you are not sure if the lawn product is exempt, contact the Health Department, Environmental Health Division at 274-6688.

What can happen if I apply pesticide without proper notification?

Confirmed first complaints result in a “warning” and informational material. Subsequent violations can result in substantial monetary penalties. Homeowner penalties can be up to $250. Commercial penalties can range up to $10,000.

Who do I call to report a violation?

  • For lack of notification (including homeowners who fail to post properties): Tompkins County Health Department (607) 274-6688
  • For inappropriate use of pesticide or drift: Department of Environmental Conservation (607) 753-3095
  • For lack in signage in retail stores: Tompkins County Weights and Measures (607) 274-0353 or the Health Department

Where else can I get information?

  • Cornell Cooperative Extension for general information, and information about low risk pesticides and alternatives to pesticides at (607) 272-2292