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Applicator Core Study Guide

Applicator Core Study Guide


Use this study guide to help you prepare for the core certification exam.


  1. Know the federal and state laws that regulate pesticide application.Know:
    • the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) regulates pesticide registration, sale and use
    • FIFRA sets minimum standards for certification, training and licensing of pesticide applicators
    • the State of Delaware Pesticide law, and its rules and regulations regulate pesticide registration, sale and use in Delaware; and certification, training and licensing of pesticide applicators
    • the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 (FQPA) changes the way tolerances are set and the way pesticides are registered
    • the Worker Protection Standards (WPS) protects workers on farms, forests, nurseries, and green houses
  2. Understand the applicator’s responsibility under the law for handling & use.Know the requirements of:
  • pesticide transportation, storage, mixing/loading and application.
  • waste pesticide disposal
  • pesticide rinsate disposal
  • pesticide container disposal


  • the applicator’s responsibility in supervising non-licensed applicators
  • the applicator’s responsibility in making pesticide recommendations according to the “label”
  • that the “label” is the law
  1. Know the federal and state record keeping requirements/laws.Know:
    • the records required of applicators and the length of time to be kept
    • the penalties for not keeping proper records
  1. Know applicators responsibilities under WPS.
  2. Understand consequences of illegal use of pesticides.Know that a fine or sentence can be imposed for illegal use of pesticide products for:
    • detaching, altering, defacing or destroying the pesticide label
    • placing a pesticide in a container other than the original
    • improper transportation, storage or disposal of pesticides
    • improper mixing, loading or application of pesticides
    • application to a site not listed on the label
    • application of higher concentrations or more frequent applications than listed on the label
    • failure to keep proper records
    • making a recommendation not in accordance with the label
    • failure to properly inform non-licensed applicators under the supervision of a licensed applicator

Know that a pesticide may be:

  • applied to a pest not listed on the label
  • applied with equipment not prohibited by the label
  • applied at rates below those listed on the label


  • pesticides & pesticides or pesticides & fertilizers may be mixed if not prohibited by the label
  • the consequence of not reporting a spill
  1. Know procedure for certification and recertification of applicators.
  2. Be aware that there are agencies that regulate pesticide applicators.Know the function of:
    • the EPA in regards to regulation of pesticide registration, use and disposal
    • the Delaware Department of Agriculture in regards to regulation of pesticide registration, use and disposal
    • the Delaware Department of Natural resources and Environmental regulation in regards to spill cleanup
  3. Know distinction between private and commercial applicators.
  • Know the definition and categories of pests (insects & relatives, weeds, plant pathogens, vertebrates).
  • Understand importance of pest identification in making control decisions.  Know the environmental and economic consequences of basing control decision on incorrect pest identification.
  • Know how to obtain identification of pest beyond major group (if needed) for control decision.
  • Know that there are resources for information from Delaware Cooperative Extension service.
  1. Know how to decide if and when to use pest control; and know what information is needed to decide whether or not to apply pest control.Understand the concept of economic threshold.
  2. Understand the objectives of pest control:
      • prevention
      • suppression
      • elimination
    • Know how and when to use each type of pest control:
      • chemical control
      • cultural control
      • biological control
      • mechanical control
      • host resistance
      • sanitation
    • Know how to combine different types of pest control (chemical, cultural, biological, mechanical, host resistance, sanitation and natural control) in an IPM program.
    • Understand importance of knowing life cycle of pests to control decisions.Know which stage of the pest:
    • is most susceptible to pesticides
    • most susceptible to other means of control
    • is not susceptible to pesticides
    • is not susceptible to other means of control
  1. Be able to recognize treatment stage(s) of pests.Know:
  • the distinction between mature and immature insects
  • how to recognize different life stages of weeds
  • Know how to find certain information on the label.Know how to determine:
    • the type of pesticide (insecticide, fungicide, herbicide, avicide, rodenticide, nematicide, algicide, etc.)
    • what action to take to prevent poisoning
    • what PPE to wear
    • how to find first aid information
    • the environmental hazards
    • the toxicity to bees, fish and wildlife
    • the reentry time
    • proper storage and disposal
    • the formulation
    • physical or chemical hazards
    • directions for use
  • Know that the Label is the Law.  Know the consequences of using a pesticide not in accordance with the label.
  • Know terminology on the label.  Know the definition of pesticide-related terms often found on the label.
  • Know that there are different types of pesticide registrations.
  • Know the applicator’s responsibilities under each:
    • Section 18 (emergency exemption) registration
    • Section 24C (special local need) registration
  1. Know common symptoms of pesticide poisoning.Know the significance of:
  • nausea, headaches, dizziness, confusion, weakness, sweating, diarrhea, shaking, thirst, cramps, hallucinations, and other changes in the body while applying pesticides or afterward
  • Know emergency procedures for accidental exposure.Know what to do:
    • if someone swallows a pesticide
    • if someone inhales a pesticide
    • for pesticide exposure to the eye
    • when pesticide spills on the skin
  • Understand the differences between short-term and long-term health effects of pesticide poisoning.
  • Know that there are precautions for special groups.Know that:
    • some people may be hypersensitive to pesticides
    • pregnant women may suffer adverse effects from pesticides
  • Understand the concept of risk = (toxicity x exposure).Know how to:
    • reduce toxicity levels of pesticides
    • reduce exposure to pesticides
  • Understand the routes of entry of pesticides into the human body.Know how:
    • inhalation exposure may happen
    • dermal exposure may happen
    • exposure from ingestion may happen
  • Know how to protect the routes of entry from exposure to pesticides.Know:
    • how to protect from ingestion of pesticides
    • how to protect from inhalation of pesticides
    • how to protect the skin from exposure
    • how to protect the eyes from contact with pesticides
    • how to properly launder clothing used in pesticide application
    • the steps of personal cleanup
  • Know the types of PPE available to applicators and required features.
  • Know how & when to use; how to clean, maintain & store; and when to dispose of:
    • head protection
    • outer clothing protection
    • hand protection
    • foot protection
    • respirators
    • goggles and face shields
  • Know how to determine what PPE is needed when the label does not specify.Know how to interpret the signal words, route of entry statements and the specific action statements.
  • Know the action to take for accidental exposure.Know what to do when:
    • a pesticide splashes on the skin
    • a pesticide splashes in the eyes
    • a pesticide splashes on clothing
    • pesticide fumes or vapors are present
    • a pesticide splashes on the face
  1. Know how to safely transport pesticides.Know:
    • the safest vehicle to use
    • where to place containers in the vehicle
    • how to properly secure containers
    • what to do in case of an accident on the highway
    • the reason for not carrying food, feed, fertilizer, people, or animals with pesticides
  2. Know how to properly store pesticides.Know:
    • to separate pesticides by type in storage
    • to never store pesticides in any container other than the original
    • that pesticides should be stored in a cool, dry, locked, well-ventilated facility equipped with stainless steel shelves and a sealed concrete floor
  3. Know how to legally dispose of waste pesticides, rinsate, empty containers and contaminated clothing.
  4. Know how to handle a spill in the storage facility or during transportation.Know:
    • how to contain the spill
    • how to pick up the spill material
    • how to decontaminate the site
    • how to dispose of the spill material
    • what agencies must be notified
  1. Know the function of different types of pesticide application equipment and how to operate them.
  2. Know the parts of certain types of application equipment, such as pressure gages and regulators, control valves, strainers, and agitators.
  3. Know how to clean and maintain certain types of equipment.Know:
    • the general cleaning steps to take after finishing an application
    • where to do clean-up
    • the general maintenance steps to take after finishing an application
    • the proper procedure for end-of-season-storage for equipment
  4. Know how to safely load pesticides.Know:
    • the general procedures for loading liquids, dusts and granulars
    • how to avoid back-siphonage
  5. Know application techniques.Know how to make:
    • banded, broadcast and directed applications with boom sprayers
    • in-furrow, t-band, band and broadcast applications with granular applications
  6. Know how to choose the proper pesticide/adjuvant/ formulation for the job.
  7. Understand importance of pesticide spray compatibility and know how to conduct pesticide spray compatibility tests.
  • Understand importance of proper calibration.
  • Know the legal, environmental, and economic consequences of over application, as well as the economic consequences
    of under application.
  • Know how to do calibration using portion of acre method and tank refill method.
  • Know how to calculate dilutions/mixtures for application to a given spray area.
  • Know the factors influencing the severity of environmental contamination from pesticides.Know how:
    • soil texture and chemistry may affect the fate of pesticides
    • wind speed, direction and temperature affect pesticide movement
    • pesticide chemistry & formulation will affect the impact of pesticides on the environment
  • Understand the importance of protecting the environment from pesticide contamination.Know the consequences of environmental contamination to humans and off-target organisms.
  • Understand the concepts of pesticide movement, accumulation and persistence in the environment.
  • Know how pesticides breakdown in soil, air and water.
  • Understand the concepts of point-source and non-point source pollution by pesticides.
  • Know how to protect the environment from pesticide contamination.
  • Know how to prevent water and soil contamination, and drift.

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