State Chemist

The State Chemist Section has been in continuous operation since 1833. It regulates the sale and distribution of pesticides, animal feeds, pet foods, fertilizers, compost, soil conditioners and agricultural liming materials in order to enhance and promote agricultural production; protect consumers, animals and the environment from unsafe products; ensure the sale of effective products and provide the regulated industry with a competitive marketplace. Regulation is accomplished by product registration, laboratory analyses, inspection, voluntary compliance and enforcement actions such as stop sale orders. In addition, individuals who are composting materials to be sold or distributed must demonstrate their competency by passing an exam at the department and becoming certified as a Compost Facility Operator.

The Section supports MDA’s Pesticide Regulation Section (PRS) by providing data from the chemical analyses of environmental investigations relative to potential misuse of pesticides and PRS’s Pesticide Container Disposal program. It also provides chemical testing for the Department’s Organic Commodity Certification Program and chemical analyses to support MDA and other state agencies’ environmental projects and programs.

The Section works closely with federal agencies (FDA, EPA, USDA, ATF) in performing inspections, collecting samples and performing chemical analyses for; (1) ensuring production and distribution of safe animal feed in order to prevent the transmission of Bovine Spongiform Encepthalopathy (Mad Cow Disease) in Maryland); (2) monitoring state grown produce for unacceptable levels of pesticides; (3) collecting food samples from distribution centers for gathering data relative to establishing safe levels of pesticides in food consumed by children; (4) evaluating the potential spread of pathogens in produce samples collected from mid-atlantic distribution centers, and (5) educating distributors on the need to monitor and identify users of the fertilizer ingredient ammonium nitrate, a powerful explosive material that has the potential to be used by terrorists.

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