Skip to main content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Pesticide Management & Coordination

Health & Safety

The Forest Service places high priority on human and ecological health and safety. This is one of the reasons why the use of pesticides in forestry activities on National Forests must be based on analysis of effectiveness, specificity, environmental impact, economic efficiency and human exposure.

To assess the potential health effects of pesticides used in major forest programs and activities, pesticide Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessments are prepared. These documents are used to determine the probability of adverse effects to humans, wildlife, and the environment from the use of pesticides.

Forest Service units are required to prepare a safety plan for all pesticide-use projects, except housekeeping-type uses and minor uses of less than one pound active ingredient for any one project. Safety plans are developed to protect the public and employees from unsafe work conditions when pesticides are involved (FSM 2151.3-Pesticide-Use Safety Planning). Regardless of the preceding exceptions, Forest Service units prepare safety plans for all uses of sodium cyanide in any quantity.

Safety plans are designed to ensure workers:

  1. Are fully trained in the hazards of pesticide use and hazard communication requirements.
  2. Use protective clothing and equipment prescribed on the pesticide label or required by the Forest Service; and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
  3. Understand the importance of personal hygiene when working with pesticides.
  4. Understand emergency procedures in the event of accidental exposure or spill.

Additional safety guidance can be obtained from the Forest Service Safety and Health Program Handbook (FSH 6709.12).

Product labels and Material Safety Data Sheets for biopesticides registered by the Forest Service

In addition, we will include security information, advisories, and alerts that may help address concerns about pesticide contamination and unauthorized use of agricultural application aircraft.

Carbaryl application for Ips control.

Carbaryl application for Ips control. Photograph by A. Steven Munson, USDA Forest Service,