Agrochemicals: Label Guidance

Agrochemicals: Label Guidance

Agrochemicals are very useful in the farm industry, but can be hazardous if used incorrectly. Therefore, reading and following labels is essential to keep you and others safe. It is a federal violation to use products inconsistently with package labeling.

Use this factsheet to learn more about reading chemical labels.

Agrochemicals on Your Farm: Label Guidance [PDF]

Agrochemicals: Label Guidance

Chemical Labels

Agrochemicals are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

  • It is a federal violation to use products inconsistent with their package labeling.

Always read packaging labels, as it will tell you

  • Proper use of a product
  • Proper handling procedures
  • Safe storage instructions
  • First aid information

Read the label before purchasing a product.

  • The chemical must be registered for your intended use.
  • You must make sure there are no restrictions that would prohibit its use.

Read the label before mixing and applying chemicals.

  • Understand how to mix and safely apply the chemical.
  • Know the necessary first aid measures should an accident occur.

Read the label when storing chemicals.

  • Know how to properly store chemicals to prevent breakdown, contamination and fire hazards.
  • Keep the storage area securely locked.

Read the label before disposing of unused chemicals and empty containers.

  • Special measures may be needed to prevent environmental contamination and human health hazards.

Product Information

Brand (trade) name.

  • Unique name used to advertise the product.; different names are used by different manufacturers even though their products contain the same active ingredient.

Product type.

  • General term for what the product is used for or what it will control. Example: “Herbicide for the control of lawn weeds (dandelion, clover, thistle).”

Name and address of manufacturer.

  • The law requires the maker or distributor of a product to put the company name and address on the label. Often the manfacturer will also list a telephone number and/or web address where users may seek technical advice.

EPA registration number.

  • Indicates the product has been reviewed and registered by the Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA establishment number.

  • Identifies the facility that formulated the product.

Ingredient statement.

  • Provides the common and/or chemical name, amount of each active ingredient and the percentage of inert ingredients in the container.

Use classification or registered uses.

  • Classification of the use (e.g., use pesticide versus a restricted use pesticide) or uses of the product that are approved by the EPA.
  • If the intended use is not on the label, the product should not be used!

Directions for use.

  • Correct application of a product is accomplished by following the use instructions found on the label.
  • It is a violation of federal law to use products in any manner inconsistent with its labeling.
  • Labels may list the number of days which must pass between application and activities such as crop harvest, slaughter, or grazing livestock useage.
  • These intervals are set by EPA to allow time for the pesticide to breakdown in the environment and prevents illegal residues on food, feed, or animal products and possible poisoning of grazing animals.

Storage and Disposal

General instructions for the appropriate storage and disposal and its container.

  • Generally includes temperature requirements (minimum and maximum).
  • Should include information on the disposal of containers or mixtures (e.g., triple-rinse procedures, recycling of punctured containers)
  • State and local laws vary considerably, so specific instructions usually are not included.


Warning and caution statements tell you in what ways the product may be poisonous to humans and domestic animals.

Child hazard warning.


Signal words (toxicity categories).

  • Printed in large letters on the front of the label
  • Indicates how acutely (rapidly) toxic the product is
    • DANGER or POISON: Highly toxic, oral lethal dose is a few drops to a teaspoonful [Example: DANGER! Fatal if swallowed]
    • WARNING: Moderately toxice, oral lethal dose is over a teaspoonful to one ounce [Example: WARNING! Harmful or fatal if swallowed]
    • CAUTION: Slightly toxic, oral lethal dose is over one ounce to one pint [Example: CAUTION! Harful if swallowed.]

Precautionary statements.

  • Information about possible hazards and how to avoid them.

Physical and chemical hazards.

  • Tells the type of hazard of product (corrosive, flammable, toxic, etc.).
  • Makes recommendations on how to avoid the hazard.
  • Example: “Protective equipment needed. For proper handling and use of the chemical. This may include masks, gloves, and respirators” or “Do not use or store near heat or open flame”.
  • Hazard statements are listed in their order of immediacy and severity.

Specific Action Statements.

  • These statements usually follow the route of entry statements and recommend the specific action needed to prevent poisoning accidents.
  • Examples: “DANGER! Do not breathe vapors or spray mist. Do not get on skin or clothing. Do not get in eyes.” Or “CAUTION = Avoid contact with skin or clothing. Avoid breathing dusts, vapors or spray mists. Avoid getting in eyes.“

Medical/Treatment Information

First aid or statement of practical treatment.

  • Details on what to do in case of exposure.
  • This is not a substitute for medical advice.
  • Always call poison control or your healthcare provider.

All DANGER levels and some WARNING and CAUTION labels have a section on:

  • First aid treatment
  • Poison signs or symptoms
  • Note to physician or antidote
  • An Emergency Assistance telephone number

ALWAYS call the National Poison Center Hotline at 1-800-222-1222

  • For further medical instructions
  • Have the label available when calling the hotline.
  • Take the product label with you to the hospital; it will have specific instructions and information the healthcare provider will need,
  • Examples: “If swallowed: DO NOT induce vomiting” or “If in eyes: Hold eyelids open and flush with a steady, gentle stream of water for 15 minutes.”

Agrochemical Safety

All chemicals should be stored and handled in a safe manner. For more information, see the “Agrochemicals on Your Farm: Safety” factsheet.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

  • All chemical products have a MSDS sheet which contains the following information:
    • Name & trade name of the substance
    • Hazardous ingredient(s) it contains
    • Physical characteristics of the chemical
    • Detailed toxicity information
    • Protective equipment to be used
    • What to do in event of a leak of spill
    • Precautions needed for emergency personnel
    • Any other precautions to be followed

Environmental Hazards

Chemical residues can contaminate water supplies, accumulate to dangerous levels in the environment or harm birds, fish or wildlife. This section of the label explains potential hazards and the precautions needed to prevent impact to the environment. Examples include “This product is highly toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates.” Or “Do not apply where runoff is likely to occur.“

Important Websites

Call the National Poison Center Hotline at 1-800-222-1222

National Pesticide Information Center
A database of pesticide information for all audiences. Includes general information for individuals, details on specific pesticides for farmers, and regulations for manufacturers.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
National Poison Center Hotline
Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222
American Association of Poison Control Centers
NFPA Chemical Hazard Label
How to read National Fire Protection Association labels.
National Fire Protection Association

Label Guidance Resources

Chemicals/Pesticides: Labels
Materials that can be used to teach farm workers how to read labels.
National Ag Safety Database (NASD)
Pesticides: Learning About Labels
Lists information found on pesticide labels, where to find it, and how to use it.
North Dakota State University Extension Service
Read the Label First: Protect Your Household
Document with key safety points for chemicals used in the home.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Reading Pesticide Labels
Instructions on identifying and understanding information on a pesticide label.
Ohio State University Extension