[2012 State of the Industry Report] How are PMPs regulated?

Features - 2012 State of the Industry Report

NPMA and ASPCRO recently surveyed state pesticide regulatory agencies about how they oversee our industry. What they found may surprise you.


Over the last few years, officials at the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) have become increasingly concerned about the qualifications of companies that offer and perform canine detection services. Although MDA already requires any person soliciting or performing pest management services for compensation to be licensed or work as a registered employee for a company that is licensed, Maryland officials ultimately concluded that a regulation specific to canine detectors and their handlers — the first of its kind in the country — was necessary to better protect the Free State consumers from shoddy work.

Indeed, MDA will propose rulemaking in the coming months requiring canine detectors and their handlers to successfully complete third-party training. This imminent regulatory action perfectly underscores the difference in the scope of regulation of the professional pest management industry between the states.

Half Regulate Pesticide Use Only. Every state regulates pesticide use but, according to a recent survey of state regulatory agencies conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials (ASPCRO), 53 percent of responding jurisdictions also regulate wood-destroying insect/organism or other inspections, 41 percent regulate devices and 37 percent regulate non-chemical pest management. Or, in other words, almost half of the states don’t regulate anything other than pesticide use.


Forty-eight states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands responded to the survey, which was conducted in the spring and summer of 2012 and contained 30 questions covering a myriad of topics including licensing, fees, termite treatment standards, notification and posting, and insurance requirements. Only New Jersey and South Dakota did not participate in the survey. NPMA and ASPCRO plan to conduct another survey next year focusing on another series of issues.

Forty-one states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have placed the regulation of the structural pest management industry under their state departments of agriculture; six states, the District of Columbia and Northern Mariana Islands have charged their environmental agencies with oversight of the industry. Other states govern the industry through their state chemist’s office (Indiana), a state university (Clemson University in South Carolina), department of public health (Illinois), and department of commerce and consumer affairs (Hawaii), although the state’s department of agriculture has authority over the industry as well.

Generally speaking, most Southern states regulate pest management activities while New England and northeastern states only oversee pesticide use. Most states in the Midwest, Great Plains and Pacific Northwest also limit their supervision of the pest management industry to pesticide applications. States that lack the authority to regulate non-chemical services certainly will be forced to confront whether and possibly how to more rigorously administer these services, especially considering the uptick in the offering of “green” and other services that don’t involve the application of pesticides.

Moreover, as the bed bug resurgence moves into its second decade in some parts of the country, states that lack the authority to regulate non-chemical pest management activities like steam, freezing and heat treatments likely will have to revisit whether to expand the scope of their oversight to cover such services. State policymakers inevitably will become concerned that their jurisdictions do not oversee a service that involves heating a structure in excess of 122 degrees and seek to regulate non-chemical pest management activities. States may also follow Maryland’s lead and seek to more closely regulate canine detection services.

Some state regulatory agencies that presently oversee only pesticide use may be reluctant to also regulate non-pesticide activities. Such reticence could lead to the regulation of heat treatments being placed under a different agency than the state lead pesticide agency. The splintering of the regulation of the professional pest management industry would create another layer of regulation from an agency unfamiliar with structural pest control. With state budgets declining, most state agencies are not prepared to consider new regulatory activities without appropriate funding.

Other Important Results.
The survey included many other interesting and noteworthy findings such as:

Twenty-seven jurisdictions require service technicians to pass an examination and 21 require technicians to satisfy a training requirement in order to use a general-use pesticide. Only four states do not have any minimum requirement for service technicians applying general-use pesticides.

Forty-two percent of states require licensing of “not-for-hire” technicians working at government facilities and 37 percent require licensing of “not-for-hire” technicians making general-use pesticide applications at private facilities. Facility types that states require “not-for-hire” applicators to be licensed to apply general-use pesticides include day care centers, public and private schools, hotels, food-processing operations, health-care facilities, multi-family housing and restaurants. The slow but steady trend of states adopting and implementing requirements for persons using general-use pesticides at the aforementioned and other settings is likely to continue.

Surprisingly, eight jurisdictions have no minimum insurance requirements for pest management companies.

Only six states require criminal background checks for licensees.

Seventeen jurisdictions require pest management professionals to provide customer service records, post-pesticide application precautionary statements, and pesticide labels or material safety data sheets; 19 mandate that PMPs give consumers such information upon request.

Of the 35 jurisdictions that have a consumer information requirement, 18 permit PMPs to provide such information electronically. This highlights a regulatory challenge for industry: working with state regulatory officials to revise regulatory requirements to accommodate current technology and automation. NPMA will work with state lead agencies and ASPCRO to identify commonplace regulatory requirements that may need to be revisited because of the technology the industry is utilizing.

Six jurisdictions or 12 percent of respondents require PMPs using general-use pesticides to post signs prior to or at the time of indoor pesticide applications. Settings at which signs must be posted include schools, day-care centers, government buildings, multi-family housing, lodging and health-care facilities.

Twenty-seven jurisdictions require post-construction termite treatments to be performed at full label rate and 14 have minimum treatment requirements for post-construction treatments.

Fifteen jurisdictions require PMPs to include language in their contracts outlining the scope of the termite warranty/guarantee or otherwise inform the consumer of the scope of the warranty/guarantee.

Nine jurisdictions require persons performing a wood-destroying insect/organism inspection to post information about who performed the inspection or when it was performed and six mandate businesses warranty/guarantee such inspections.

Rosenberg and Harrington are with the National Pest Management Association. Lastinger is with the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials.

For More Information

For additional survey results, go to www.npmapestworld.org/publicpolicy/NPMAASPCROSurvey.cfm or contact Bob Rosenberg at rosenberg@pestworld.org, Gene Harrington at gharrington@pestworld.org or Derrick Lastinger at