Pesticides – NSW overview

Pesticides control or destroy pests by physically, chemically or biologically interfering with their metabolism, life cycle or behaviour. Pesticides can be natural or manufactured substances.

About pests and pesticides

Pests harm or destroy agricultural crops, native or useful ecosystems, plants or animals. They are often introduced from other countries, and include:

  • weeds such as bitou bush and madeira vine
  • fungi such as myrtle rust which affects native plants
  • insects such as fire ants
  • animals such as foxes and cane toads.

Pesticides include herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, fumigants, bactericides, rodenticides, baits, lures and repellents. They also include products used on animals to control external parasites if they are diluted or mixed with water, unless they are listed as low-risk under the Stock Medicines Act 1989.

Regulating pesticides

Many Commonwealth and NSW government agencies, as well as other organisations, manage pesticides in NSW. The EPA regulates the proper use of pesticides through the provisions of the Pesticides Act 1999 and Pesticides Regulation 2017.  The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) controls which pesticides are registered and sold in Australia.

Preventing pesticide misuse

The EPA administers regulations, and conducts investigations and campaigns, to protect people and animals from being harmed by pesticides.

Integrated pest management is a technique to prevent problems from occurring rather than dealing with them after they have happened.

Informing people about using pesticides

It can be difficult working out how to use pesticides correctly. The pages listed below should help you find the information you need. There are pages for:

  • the public, school teachers and volunteers
  • business, industry and government.

There is also specific information for

Preparing for safe pesticide use

The following information is important for anyone who uses pesticides

  • disposing of pesticides – general information on disposal and special instructions for disposing of pesticide rinsate
  • registration and off-label use of pesticides – find out about the Commonwealth Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) that assesses and registers pesticides before they can be used in NSW to ensure they meet current environmental, health and trade standards.

Compulsory training in pesticide use

People who use pesticides as part of their job or business in NSW must undertake training every five years to

  • keep their knowledge up-to-date
  • minimise mistakes when pesticides are used
  • protect workers, their families, the community, trade and the environment.

Compulsory record keeping

Keeping records of pesticide use is compulsory for people who use pesticides as part of their job or business in NSW. Keeping accurate records

  • reduces health, trade and environmental impacts by providing vital information if problems occur
  • tracks the effectiveness of the pesticides used
  • if there is an incident or accident, proves that pesticides were used responsibly.

Notification of pesticide use

Certain businesses must provide notification of pesticide use

Pesticide control orders

When the APVMA classifies pesticides products as restricted, they can only be supplied to and used by persons authorised under state legislation.

A person is authorised to use a restricted pesticide through pesticide control orders (PCOs). There are PCOs for use of 1080, certain timber treatments and other substances.

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