To ensure pesticides are applied properly by trained and competent applicators, the
Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) Pesticide Regulation Section (PRS):
- regulates the distribution, sale, storage, use and disposal of pesticides; and,
- establishes qualifications for the licensing of businesses and certification of persons applying
or recommending pesticides or perfoming pest inspections,
MDA does not regulate matters involving contractual disputes between consumers and pest
Authority to Inspect Land, Facilities or Equipment
The Agriculture Article, Section 5-205, states that the Secretary of Agriculture may
sample any pesticide and inspect any device, container, product, apparatus or equipment used or
intended for use in pest control operations, any establishment from which pest control is
conducted, and any pesticide applicationor treatment performed by or under the supervision of a
In addition, Section 15.05.01.18 A (12) of the Regulations Pertaining to the Pesticide
Applicators Law states that failing to allow the Department to inspect or sample as provided in
the law is grounds for issuing a civil penalty or suspending, revoking or denying a license,
permit or certificate of any person.
Role of the Pesticide Inspector
- Contact all pertinent individuals to conduct investigations and/or interviews.
- Document incident information through maps, photographs, statements, pesticide labels, and
on-site assessments, which are compiled into an investigative file.
- Collect physical evidence such as soil, vegetation, and water samples to aid in the
determination of violations.
- Deliver samples to MDA's State Chemist Section to be analyzed for pesticide residues or to
the Plant Protection Section for detection of disease, insect or pesticide damage.
Access to Information Gathered in an Investigation?
The Maryland Public Information Act, Maryland State Government Article10-611, et
seq., gives the public the right to view case files once an investigation is closed. Therefore,
information contained in a closed case file must be released to the public, upon written request.
The goal of the Pesticide Regulation Section is to respond to the complainant within 24
hours of learning of an incident. However, there are many variables involved in an investigation
that determine how long it will take to close a case. Some of the factors that delay the closure
are complex lab analyses, the need to have a follow-up investigation, and backlog of legal cases
under review. Because each case varies, it is impossible to provide a good estimate of how long
it will take to achieve case closure. The top priority is to provide a complete and thorough
investigation of any complaint.
After the inspector has gathered all of the necessary information related to an
investigation, a Supervising Inspector reviews the file to determine the completeness of the
documentation. After the initial review by the Supervising Inspector, the file is reviewed by the
Case Review Officer for possible violations of the Maryland Pesticide Applicators Law or
regulations. Once this review is complete, the staff forwards the case to the Chief of the Section
for review for possible regulatory action.
In some instances no violations are noted and a report of findings is issued. However, if
evidence is sufficient to prove a significant violation of the law, the Department can resolve the
conflict by taking any of the following actions against the pest control business or pesticide
- Notice of warning
- Negotiated settlement agreement,
- Informal conference before the Chief of the Pesticide Regulation Section,
- Formal hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings,
- Criminal action in court, or
- Civil penalty.
Information regarding laboratory analysis performed on samples collected from a
property can be shared with the owner while an investigation is underway, but some information
can not be released until a case is closed. This is to insure that decisions on any potential
regulatory action are not prejudicial.
Penalties For Violating The Maryland Pesticide Applicators Law or Regulations
Any person who violates any provision of the Pesticide Applicators Law is guilty of a
misdemeanor and, upon conviction, is subject to a fine of up to $1,000, or imprisonment not
exceeding 60 days, or both.
In addition, a person who violates any provision of the law or regulations is subject to a
civil penalty of not more than $2,500 for a first violation or $5,000 for each subsequent
violation. Each day a violation occurs can be considered a separate violation. The total
penalties imposed on a person for violations that result from the same set of facts and
circumstances may not exceed $25,000. Violation of the law and regulations is also grounds for
revocation, suspension or denial of a license, permit or certificate issued by MDA.
The Maryland Pesticide Applicators Law contains no provision for compensation to be
made to individuals. All civil penalties collected by MDA go into the State's General Fund and
are not used by MDA. Private civil action would be required in most instances to recover
The Pesticide Regulation Section will provide notification when a decision has been made as to
whether further regulatory action will be taken, and of any final action taken. Parties directly
involved in a complaint can receive information by contacting the Pesticide Regulation Section at
MDA's function is to ensure compliance with the State pesticide law and to deal with the licensed
firm or certified applicator, which is regulated by MDA. MDA does not assist the complainant
with preparing a civil suit against the pest control firm or applicator.
For information about a specific complaint, call the Pesticide Regulation Section at 410-841-5710
and ask to speak with the inspector in charge of the investigation, the Supervising Inspector or
the Case Review Officer.
If you have any questions not addressed here, please to call the MDA, Pesticide Regulation
Section at 410-841-5710.