Regulating pesticides in NSW

The EPA, Commonwealth and NSW government agencies and other stakeholder organisations all play a role in managing pesticides in NSW to ensure they do not damage the environment or harm human health.

Pesticide products sold in Australia must be approved and registered by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

Before registering a product, the APVMA assesses the pesticide’s

  • potential impacts on the environment, human health and trade
  • likely effectiveness for its proposed uses

If a pesticide contains an active constituent not previously used in Australia, the APVMA must seek public comment before registering it.

Only registered pesticides can be used in NSW, unless the APVMA grants approval for use under a permit. Registration includes approval of label directions, which specify

  • how, and under what circumstances, the pesticide may be used
  • clean-up, storage and disposal requirements
  • measures needed for personal and environmental safety

After registration, the APVMA regulates pesticides up to and including the point of retail sale. After sale, pesticides in NSW are regulated by the EPA.

Under its Chemical Review Program, the APVMA also reviews the registration of existing pesticides to determine whether

  • changes are necessary to the registration
  • the registration should be withdrawn

Public submissions are considered during the review.

Find out more about the APVMA’s role and responsibilities

The EPA enforces the proper use of pesticides in NSW, including those used

  • in agriculture, except veterinary medicines
  • on public lands, including national parks
  • on domestic and commercial premises

The EPA licences

  • aerial pesticide applicators
  • pest management technicians and fumigators

Some pesticides, because of their flammability, combustibility or toxicity, are classified as dangerous goods. When they are transported on public roads, the EPA regulates them under the Dangerous Goods (Road and Rail Transport) Act 2008.

Pesticide pollution and waste may be regulated under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act). For example, fish kills caused by pesticide residues in waterways are generally investigated under the POEO Act.

The EPA encourages pesticide users to improve their management of pesticides through education programs and by fostering liaison and communication with other stakeholders.

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act), SafeWork NSW seeks to protect workers in the workplace. Regulations under the WHS Act control hazardous substances including most pesticides.

The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (WHS Regulation) covers

  • identifying hazardous substances in the workplace
  • assessing and controlling risks associated with using these substances

SafeWork NSW has developed codes of practice to help industries achieve the health, safety and welfare standards required by the WHS Act and Regulation.

SafeWork NSW regulates the classification, packaging, labelling, use and storage of dangerous goods and the transport of dangerous goods on private roads.

NSW Health has a range of responsibilities in relation to pesticides. These include

Under the NSW Food Act 2003, the NSW Food Authority

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) regulates

DPI also

  • administers the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 and the Local Land Services Act 2013
  • provides training and advice, including information on integrated pest management systems to minimise the use of pesticides
  • ·oversees the use of poisons for the control of feral pest animals
  • publishes Primefacts and factsheets on a range of agricultural topics including the use of farm chemicals

For more information, see Agriculture and horticulture.

Local Land Services (formerly Livestock Health and Pest Authorities) responsibilities include

  • advice on control of pest animals
  • supply and distribution of pesticide baits
  • pest control training courses
  • coordinating regional control programs
  • developing pest management plans

The detection and control of plague locusts is coordinated nationally by the Australian Plague Locust Commission.

Local councils have planning, regulatory, management, research and monitoring roles. Local councils and some county councils are responsible for local noxious weed control.

Agsafe

The agricultural and veterinary chemicals industry program, Agsafe, accredits agricultural and veterinary chemical supply premises and staff, and may impose sanctions where accreditation obligations are not met. Commercial resellers of agricultural and veterinary chemicals must have Agsafe-trained staff who are bound by an industry code of conduct to provide responsible and professional advice.

Agsafe also coordinates DrumMuster, a program managing waste farm-chemical containers, and ChemClear, a program for disposing of unwanted chemicals.

Other groups

Many other industry groups, chemical suppliers, and community and environment organisations have expertise in pesticide matters. 

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