What Is An ‘Exempt’ Pest Control Product?

Many pest control products on the market today are synthetic poisons or carcinogens that affect the nervous system of pests. Typically, pesticides must be registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before they can be legally sold or distributed.
The EPA performs testing to determine maximum safe exposure levels and the effectiveness of a product to control specific pests. Once testing is complete, a registration number is issued and placed on all labeling of the product. This is a protection mechanism for the sake of public health to minimize exposure, misuse, or access to toxins. However, not all pest control products are created equally. The EPA ‘exempt’ pest control products do not need to be registered.
Under section 25(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), there is a list of active pest control ingredients identified by the EPA staff Pest Control Assessment Report and Administrator “to be of a character which is unnecessary to be subject to this Act”. In other words, these ingredients pose no threat to public safety.
The EPA published List 25(b) of exempt, active pest control ingredients in 1996. EPA exempted the active ingredients [described in 40 CFR section 152.25(f)] for several reasons. One reason is to reduce the cost and regulatory burdens on businesses as well as the public for pesticides posing little or no risk. Why protect the public from things it needs no protection from? The other reason is to focus EPA’s limited resources on pesticides which pose greater risk to humans and the environment.
So pest control products with an active ingredient found on List 25(b) and which use safe, inert ingredients, form a special class of pesticides that are not subject to federal registration requirements because their ingredients, both active and inert, are demonstrably safe for the intended use. These are EPA ‘exempt’ products; these are safe pest control.
Products identified as ‘exempt’ under Section 25(b) do not require EPA label approval; do not undergo review by the EPA; and have no label requirements for an EPA Registration Number, an EPA Establishment Number, any signal word, or any personal protective equipment (PPE). However, individual states can require registration.
In order to be considered for List 25(b) EPA Exempt status, there are five conditions that a pest control product must meet:
Condition 1: The product must contain only active ingredients that are listed in 152.25(f). The active ingredient of a product is the ingredient that kills, destroys, mitigates, or repels pests named on the product label. Below is the List 25(b) of active ingredients:
Castor oil (U.S.P. or equivalent)
Linseed oil
Cedar oil
Malic acid
Cinnamon and cinnamon oil
Mint and mint oil
Citric acid
Peppermint and peppermint oil
Citronella and Citronella oil
2-Phenethyl propionate
Cloves and clove oil
Potassium sorbate
Corn gluten meal
Putrescent whole egg solids
Corn oil
Rosemary and rosemary oil
Cottonseed oil
Sesame and sesame oil
Dried Blood
Sodium chloride (common salt)
Sodium lauryl sulfate
Garlic and garlic oil
Soybean oil
Thyme and thyme oil
Geranium oil
White pepper
Lauryl sulfate
Zinc metal strips (consisting solely of zinc metal and impurities)
Lemongrass oil
Condition 2: The product must contain only those inert ingredients that have been classified by EPA as List 4A “Inert Ingredients of Minimal Concern.” An explanation of the Inert Ingredients of Minimal Concern and links to List 4A are available on EPA’s Permitted Inerts Web page.
Condition 3: All of the ingredients (both active and inert) must be listed on the label. The active ingredient(s) must be listed by name and percentage by weight. Each inert ingredient must be listed by name.
Condition 4: The label cannot include any false or misleading statements, and claims that minimum risk pesticides protect human or public health are prohibited. For example, since these products are exempt from federal registration, label language implying federal registration, review or endorsement, such as “It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with the label,” or the use of an EPA registration or establishment number is not allowed.
Condition 5: In general, public health claims are prohibited. It is acceptable to say ‘Controls Mosquitoes’ but it is NOT acceptable to say ‘Controls Mosquitoes that transmit West Nile Virus’.
Products that have EPA registration pose a threat to public safety. What Are The Approaches For Managing Pests EPA Exempt products do not pose any safety concerns.
So which would you choose?