OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

Jun 26, 1985

MEMORANDUM FOR:      James W. Lake
                     Regional Administrator

FROM:                John B. Miles, Jr., Director
                     Directorate of Field Operations

Subject:             Jurisdiction for Pesticide Health Hazards

This is in response to your memorandum of May 15 requesting clarification of which Federal agency has jurisdiction over pesticide application.

Any application of a registered pesticide comes under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency. Except for farm workers, whose health EPA seeks to protect with field reentry standards, EPA has jurisdiction for protecting the health of only the pesticide applicators, however. Any other employees at a work site who are at risk of exposure to the pesticide being applied come under the jurisdiction of OSHA.



May 15, 1985

                    Directorate of Field Operations

FROM:               JAMES W. LAKE
                    Regional Administrator

SUBJECT:            OSHA Pesticide Jurisdiction

This is to request clarification of OSHA's jurisdiction or responsibilities with respect to pesticides application and/or treatment when such pesticides do not contain arsenic. Also, is there a distinction with respect to jurisdiction contingent upon whether we are dealing with pesticide treatment after infestation or initial application of a pesticide to preclude infestation?

The enclosed memorandum from our Boise Area Office posed related questions which we have decided deserve your attention.

Your assistance in clarifying this subject area for us will be appreciated.


May 10, 1985


                  Regional Administrator

FROM:             CINDY A. COE 
                  Industrial Hygienist

                  Acting Area Director

SUBJECT:          OSHA-EPA Jurisdiction in the Application of Pesticides

Recently, in response to a complaint, I conducted an inspection of Osmose Wood Preserving Company. There was a two man crew engaged in the treatment of utility poles wherein several holes are drilled into the base of the pole and the employee pours chloropicrin into the hole. The chemical protects the pole against insect infestation. The company was cited for a serious violation of 29 CFR 1910.132(a) for not ensuring that gloves were worn by the employee handling the chloropicrin. The company has contested, stating that EPA has sole jurisdiction.

Mr. Beeston contacted the national office in this regard, and was told that EPA has jurisdiction over the application of pesticides. I am also aware of OSHA Directive CPL 2-2.22 which states that arsenic containing pesticides and wood preservatives are not within the scope of 29 CFR 1910.1018.

I contacted Bill Frutel, Environmental Protection Specialist with the Boise EPA office to find out what is being done in Idaho. He explained that the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) gives EPA juurisdiction over the application of pesticides, however there are limitations as to their enforcement of worker safety and health. Essentially, EPA enforces that the applicator follows label directions. Often, the label will not be specific as to the safety and health provisions necessary to protect the worker. He said he would prefer it if OSHA had jurisdiction because EPA does not have "that good of a grip" on worker safety and health.

This could have wide-spread consequences in our activities as there have been several occasions where I have cited companies, primarily grain and bean elevators, warehouses and seed treatment plants for deficiencies in the protection of employees engaged in the application of pesticides. None have contested, so a question as to our authority has not arisen until this time.

We need clarification as to where OSHA's duty lies in ensuring worker safety and health in the application of pesticides.



May 3, 1985

Dr. James A. Singmaster III
Box 25151, Venezuela Sta
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico 00928

Dear Dr. Singmaster:

Thank you for your letter of April 12, 1985, regarding the chemical, N- (or 1-) methyl-4-phenylpyridinium chloride (MPP salt).

As you may know the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to register all pesticides to be marketed in the United States, based upon data adequate to demonstrate that their use will not result in unreasonable adverse effects on people or the environment.

You are concerned that MPP salt may cause adverse health effects and believe that paraquat, an herbicide, may have wastes or be contaminated with MPP salt or closely related compounds. Since MPP has never been registered by EPA, we have no data on it. Paraquat, on the other hand, is a registered pesticide which has undergone a thorough review by the Agency. However, we have no indication that MPP salt is present in the formulation. If you have some evidence to the contrary and can provide us with scientific references, we would appreciate receiving them. Such information should be sent to Mr. Thomas Adamczyk, Registration Division, EPA Office of Pesticide Programs, 401 M Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20460.

You also refer, in your letter to the Kansas State Commissioner of Health, to the possible exposure of workers to MPP salt. Exposure of workers to hazardous substances in the manufacturing process comes under the jurisdiction of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). You may wish to correspond directly with OSHA regarding your concerns.

If I can be of further assistance, please let me know.

Sincerely yours,



John A. Moore
Assistant Administrator for Pesticides and Toxic Substances
United State Environmental Protection Agency
Washington, D.C. 20460


April 12, 1985

Mr. Lee Thomas, Administrator
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
Washington, D.C. 20460

Dear Mr. Thomas:

Enclosed is some information on a developmental herbicide distributed some years ago by Gulf Oil Chemicals. The active ingredient, MPP salt, was recently reported as a bioconversion product of a contaminant found in a synthetic substitute used by heroin abusers, who developed an irreversible Parkinson's disease-like condition. The most recent work seems to indicate that MPP may be the active compound causing this condition.

In addition to the problem outlined in the letter to the Commissioner of Health in Kansas, paraquat, a major herbicide in very large use, might have wastes, or be contaminated itself, with traces of MPP or very closely related compounds. Consequently, I bring these two problems to your attention to get prompt action to investigate both Gulf and Chevron for possible health effects in workers and the plants' wastes sites for possible exposures to others.


James A. Singmaster III, Ph.D.
Box 25151, Venezuela Sta
Rio Piedras, PR 00928


April 12, 1985

Commissioner of Health
Dept of Health
State of Kansas
Topeka, KS

Dear Sir,

I have enclosed information to indicate that a very toxic chemical, N(or 1-) -methyl-4-phenylpyridinium chloride (MPP salt) was in all probability made in your State by Gulf Oil Chemicals. The enclosed Science reports indicate that this compound is involved in causing a disease which is very similar to if not identical to Parkinson's. While this chemical never became a commercial herbicide, developmental quantities were prepared by Gulf and distributed so that some got to Puerto Rico. Consequently, some production wastes and probably left-over product were disposed possibly in a manner causing exposures to people. Therefore, I advise your department to initiate an investigation to find how the wastes of this chemical were disposed in order to remove them if necessary from any site where human exposures might still be occurring. If they are found to have gotten spread on soil, they probably are permanently bound and not hazardous.

Also I suggest workers, who were involved in making the chemical and the formulated product at the plant, ought to have careful health examinations for Parkinson's disease symptoms. The company may still have data from its toxicity studies that can show if oral or dermal exposures in test animals causes effects similar to those found when MPP precurser was injected. I will appreciate hearing from your department especially if some indications of symptomology show up in workers. Action by your State will be needed before much consideration by E.P.A. or other Federal agencies will be taken with this old compound that never became commercial.


James A. Singmaster III, Ph.D.
Bos 25151, Venezuela Contr. Sta
Rio Piedras, PR 00928