All about pesticides
Pesticides are designed to destroy and control organisms that are considered undesirable or harmful. Their use comes with risks to your health and the environment. These products can contaminate water and soil and have harmful effects on other life forms. Pesticides should be used as a last resort.
A pesticide consists of one or more active ingredients. The active ingredient is the component to which the desired effects of the pesticide are attributed.
Most pesticides can be grouped according to their target:
- Acaricides target mites;
- Avicides target birds;
- Fungicides target fungi that cause plant diseases;
- Herbicides target weeds;
- Insecticides target insects;
- Molluscicides target land mollusks;
- Nematicides target nematodes that cause plant diseases;
- Phytocides target herbaceous and woody plant species;
- Piscicides target fish;
- Rodenticides target rodents.
Pesticides are classified according to their use (e.g., commercial or household), based on the risk they pose to health and the environment.
Commercial pesticides are mainly used in agriculture, essentially for crop protection.
- They can also be used for the following:
- maintenance of green spaces in urban areas;
- pest management;
- some industrial processes;
- maintenance of hydroelectric transmission corridors;
- controlling stinging insects.
Household pesticides are less harmful than commercial pesticides and can be used for personal purposes.
In Canada, pesticide jurisdiction is shared between the federal, provincial/territorial and municipal governments. Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) controls the registration, marketing and labelling of pesticides.
In Quebec, pesticides are regulated by the Pesticides Act and its two implementing regulations. Here are some of the regulatory requirements:
- Permits or certificates are required for the sales and application of pesticides.
- Sales, purchases or application of pesticides registers must be kept.
- Sales must be reported annually to the Ministère. This makes it possible to maintain a record of all pesticide sales in Quebec.
- Distances from lakes, waterways and water withdrawal sites must be respected when storing, mixing or applying pesticides.
- The application of certain high-risk pesticides is prohibited in urban and agricultural areas, unless the farmer obtains agrologic justification.
In addition, the Environment Quality Act and certain of its regulations govern the use of pesticides. For example, some projects that require the use of pesticides, for example the control of stinging insects, require environmental authorization from the Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques.
Municipalities have the authority to further regulate, taking into account their local circumstances.
Initiatives that focus on information, education and alternatives to pesticide use complement the regulations.
Exposure to pesticides
If you have been exposed to pesticides and do not feel well, call the Poison Control Centre immediately at 1 800 463-5060 and follow instructions. If you are seriously ill, go to the emergency room of a hospital and bring the pesticide container label information with you or note the name and certification number of the product to show the triage nurse.
Pesticides and health risks
Last update: December 15, 2021