Over the years, pesticides often can no longer be used as they were intended when initially purchased. This is a result of product cancellations taken by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), changes in agricultural practices, or in response to environmental and health concerns. As a result, these pesticides are often placed in the back of the storage area and forgotten. The problem is compounded by the high cost of disposal and the uncertainty of legal requirements associated with storage or disposal of these pesticides.
As a result of leaving these materials in long term storage, there is a potential health risk to owners and the possibility of environmental contamination due to pesticides leaking from deteriorating containers. In an effort to alleviate the potential for human exposure or environmental impact from these pesticides, MDA obtained grant money from EPA to conduct a pilot program in 1995 for the disposal of unusable pesticides. The pilot program was offered as a one time opportunity for growers in Caroline, Dorchester, and Talbot Counties to dispose of their unusable or unwanted pesticides. MDA received additional funding to continue the program in 1996 in Baltimore, Harford and Washington Counties. MDA plans to offer the program to additional counties each year in an effort to provide this one time program in each county of the state.
There are no registration or disposal fees associated with the disposal program. For growers to participate in the program, they must complete and return to MDA a Disposal Program Registration Form. This form provides information on the type and quantities of pesticides to be disposed and can be obtained from MDA or from the participating county office of the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service (MCES). Due to the costs associated with the disposal of these pesticides, since the pesticides must be handled as hazardous waste, participants are selected on a first-come first-served basis. Upon receipt of the registration form, an inspector with the Pesticide Regulation Section of MDA contacts each participant to schedule an on-site inspection. The inspection is conducted to verify the type and amount of pesticides listed for disposal. In addition, each container inventoried is logged and tagged by the inspector.
If there is a large quantity of an unknown material that does not have a product label affixed, a sample must be collected by the inspector for analysis. Once the sample is identified by MDA's State Chemist Section, the container is labeled with the name of the contents by the inspector. Smaller quantities of unknown materials are analyzed by the contractor. Only materials identified as pesticides, either with an EPA or USDA Registration Number or identified through analysis, can be accepted for disposal as part of this program. Materials such as fertilizers, used motor oil, antifreeze, or unidentified materials cannot be taken.
Upon completion of the inventory, MDA awards a contract to a commercial hazardous waste hauler to pack, overpack, transport and dispose of the pesticides. The inventoried pesticides are picked up in a "milk run" fashion by the contractor, where the contractor goes directly to each farm or location participating in the program to pick up the materials. The contractor is responsible for contacting the participants in order to arrange a date and time to pick up the registered pesticides for disposal. The pesticides will then be transported by the hauler to an EPA approved incinerator or hazardous waste landfill for disposal.
Registration for the program is available to growers in selected counties within specific time frames. MDA issues press releases and direct mailings to growers within the selected counties to inform them of the availability of the program and registration procedures. In addition, MDA works with the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service to coordinate the program within the respective counties.
- This program is a one-time opportunity for agricultural producers to safely and legally dispose of old, unwanted, banned or unusable pesticides.
- The best way to avoid the accumulation of unwanted pesticides is to use them according to label directions, provided the uses have not been cancelled.
- Pesticides that are properly labeled and still legal to use may be given to a properly trained individual for use according to label directions.
- Do not store rinse water from empty containers, but use it as part of the tank mix at the time the container is emptied.
Additional information on the storage of pesticides can be obtained from MDA Pesticide Information Sheet No. 11, "Storage and Transport" or from the MDA brochure "Ground Water Protection - Pesticide Storage Best Management Practices".