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Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Chemicals and pesticides


Amendment of the Pesticides Act

As part of enacting nationally agreed pesticide reforms in NSW, the NSW Parliament passed the Pesticides Amendment Bill 2 015 on 13 May 2015.

These amendments:

  • Establish a legal framework in NSW for progressively implementing nationally agreed pesticide reforms.
  • Consolidate licensing at a single point by transferring the licensing of urban pest management technicians and fumigators from SafeWork NSW (formerly WorkCover) to the EPA in line with the national reforms. This will reduce regulatory complexity for these operators.
  • Ensure that most licensing requirements applying to aerial applicators, pest management technicians and fumigators will remain similar to those that currently apply. 
  • Require the EPA to keep a register of licences which will be made available to the public, similar to that already required for other occupational licences in NSW.
  • Improve protection for NSW landholders by clarifying that the existing offences of causing damage to another person’s property through pesticides misuse can include overspray that prevents a property’s current agricultural use.
  • Extend existing offence provisions regarding on-premises harm to companion animals to better protect working dogs and household pets from negligent poisoning by contractors and third parties.
  • Update links to the Commonwealth’s agricultural and veterinary chemicals legislation regarding definitions and notices issued by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
  • Allow for enforceable undertakings as an alternative to court action and improve and update various administrative provisions of the Act.

If you would like to know more

For more information:

What are pesticides?

A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances used to destroy, suppress or alter the life cycle of a pest. A pesticide can be a naturally derived or synthetically produced substance. A pesticide can also be an organism.

Pesticides include herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, fumigants, bactericides, rodenticides, baits, lures and repellents. Products used on animals to control external parasites are also considered pesticides if they require dilution or mixing with water, unless they are listed under the Stock Medicines Act 1989 as a low-risk veterinary chemical product. Pesticides control pest organisms by physically, chemically or biologically interfering with their metabolism or normal behaviour.

For more detailed information, including the legal definition of pesticides under the Pesticides Act 1999, see the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) webpage What are pesticides and how do they work?

Are there controls on pesticides?

Yes, because of the associated risks, pesticide use and pesticide users are subject to a range of NSW and Commonwealth controls. The APVMA assesses and registers pesticides before they are permitted to be used in NSW. The registration of existing pesticides is reviewed by the APVMA to ensure the pesticides meet current environmental, health and trade standards.

The EPA regulates the proper use of pesticides through the provisions of the Pesticides Act 1999. Many Commonwealth and NSW government agencies, as well as other stakeholder organisations, have a role in managing pesticides in NSW.The EPA's Managing Pesticides in NSW webpage explains the roles of some of these organisations.

Download the Regulating pesticides in NSW fact sheet (PDF 391KB)

About the Pesticides Act 1999

The focus of the Pesticides Act 1999 is to protect health, the environment, property and trade while safeguarding responsible pesticide use in NSW. 

Compulsory training in the use of pesticides

Since 1 September 2005, training in the use of pesticides has been compulsory for people who use pesticides as part of their job or business in NSW. These pesticide users must do a short refresher course every five years.

Pesticides can be dangerous if incorrectly applied or managed. Training in their correct use minimises mistakes when pesticides are used and helps protect workers, their families, the community, trade and the environment. If you apply pesticides as part of your job or business, then you need to be trained and keep your training up-to-date.

Compulsory to keep records of pesticide use

Keeping records of pesticide use is compulsory for people who use pesticides as part of their job or business in NSW. Keeping records can help reduce health, trade and environmental impacts by providing vital information if problems occur. It can also help track the effectiveness of the pesticides used, and in the event of an incident, assist in demonstrating that pesticides were used responsibly.

Notification of pesticide use

Since February 2007, certain groups must provide notification of pesticide use. Public authorities are required to develop notification plans, and property managers and pest management technicians must give notice of pesticide applications to common areas of flats and other multiple occupancy dwellings.

Pesticide control orders

When the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) declares pesticides products to be restricted pesticides, they can only be supplied to and used by persons authorised under state legislation.

The Pesticides Act requires a person who uses a restricted pesticide to be authorised to do so by way of pesticide control orders.

More information about pesticides laws and reporting a pesticide misuse

For more information about pesticides laws, contact Environment Line. For information on reporting a pesticide incident see How to respond to a pesticide incident.

For information on which pesticides are registered, which substances fall under the legal definition of a pesticide or what pesticides are under review contact the APVMA on (02) 6210 4748 or visit APVMA website.

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Page last updated: 13 October 2016