California’s Rodenticide Prohibition: Simplified

Published on June 11, 2021 by Nate Bortz

PST – 6.11.21 Blog

Back in September, 2020, California passed a bill (AB 1788) that effectively prohibited the use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs), with some exceptions.

While the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released their FAQ document a while ago, we want to give you a simpler, easier to read version so you can be sure you’re complying with the latest requirements.

And remember California SPCB Applicators, Field Representatives, and Operators –  your certification renewal deadline is every three-years by June 30th. Click here to view our course bundles!

Legislation Summary

Effective January 1, 2021, the California Food and Agricultural Code (FAC) was amended and expanded to prohibit use of four SGARs—brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, and difethialone, with some exemptions, until the DPR completes its SGAR reevaluation and adopts any additional restrictions. As of June 30, 2020, the new law applies to all 69 DPR-registered SGAR products.

Prohibited Uses

The amended law prohibits any residential SGAR use, and prohibits most industrial/institutional uses. 

For example, SGARs are prohibited around:

  • Restaurants (that do not have an attached brewery or winery)
  • Grocery stores
  • Airports
  • Offices
  • Construction sites
  • Transport vehicles (ships, trains, aircraft)
  • Ports and terminal buildings
  • Shipyards & timber yards
  • Schools
  • Shopping malls 
  • Sewers and sewage treatment plants
  • Non-production agricultural sites (such as cemeteries, golf courses, and parks)

Consequences of Prohibited Use

Violating this amended law is subject to the standard enforcement response procedures, which can include taking an administrative civil penalty or negative licensing action from the DPR or the Structural Pest Control Board.

Allowed Uses

The amended law does not apply to certain specified uses and users. For those allowed uses and users, current federal and state pesticide laws and regulations must still be followed. If an allowed use requires a restricted material permit, the permit can still be issued.

User exemptions:

  • Certified Vector Control Technicians employed by a vector control district or other government agency
  • Government agency employees protecting water supply infrastructure and facilities (wells, surface-water intakes, dams, reservoirs, storage tanks, drinking-water facilities, pipes, and aqueducts)

Use exemptions:

  • For eradication of nonnative invasive species on offshore islands
  • To control an actual or potential infestation associated with an urgent, non-routine public health need declared by the State Public Health Officer or a local public health officer
  • For DPR research to provide information for SGARs reevaluation 
  • At medical waste generators as defined in Health and Safety Code, such as:
    • Medical, dental, and veterinary offices, clinics, hospitals, surgery centers, etc.
    • Pet shops
    • Trauma scene waste management practitioners
  • At FDA-registered and inspected drug manufacturing facilities
  • On agricultural sites producing any horticultural, viticultural, aquacultural, forestry, dairy, livestock, poultry, bee, or farm product
  • At other noted sites, specifically:
    • A warehouse used to store foods for human or animal consumption
    • A food manufacturing or processing plant, such as a slaughterhouse or cannery
    • A factory, brewery, or winery
    • On-farm water storage and conveyance (e.g., tanks and pipes)
    • On-farm storage housing rights-of-way and other transportation infrastructure materials.

Questions and Answers – Simplified

Structural Uses

How does this law affect structural pest control Branch 2 SGAR uses?
Registered Branch 2 companies practicing structural pest control are prohibited from using SGARs with certain limited exemptions allowed under the law (see above) provided the use site is listed on the product labeling. All other SGAR uses are prohibited as of January 1, 2021.

Currently, some agencies contract with a DPR or Board-licensed pest control business to conduct rodent control with SGARs. Will this practice still be allowed?
Generally, no – because most SGAR use is now prohibited. Exemptions only apply to government agency employees using SGARs for protecting water supply infrastructure and facilities or for applications by vector control districts. 

These applications cannot be conducted by professional pest control services under contract with a government agency.

The law exempts use of SGARs in “warehouse[s] used to store foods for human or animal consumption.” Are distribution centers that contain food considered “warehouses?”

Distribution centers are not covered by the exemptions in the law and SGAR use in and around them is prohibited. While somewhat similar to warehouses, distribution centers store products other than just food and typically only for a short time.

What if a building where use is exempt is within 50 feet of a building where use is prohibited?

Regardless of the buildings, facilities, or sites within 50 feet of an exempt use site, use of SGARs in or around any exempt site (e.g. the brewery) likely meets the exemption in the amended law.

Other Uses and Permitting

How does this law affect farmers, ranchers, or growers?

Provided the use site is listed on the label, use of SGARs within 50 feet of agricultural buildings or agricultural man-made structures on a farm producing agricultural products is unaffected.

However, there may be cases where a farmer or rancher has a grazing or agricultural lease in a wildlife habitat area (defined in the law as “any state park, state wildlife refuge, or state conservancy”). Most SGAR use is broadly prohibited in those state areas.

Who will notify the County Agricultural Commissioners (CACs) when DPR authorizes SGAR use for research purposes?

In order to generate data for the re-evaluation of SGARs, the DPR may approve specific applications of SGARs in California. These research programs must be reviewed by DPR scientific staff involved in the re-evaluation of SGARs and will receive approval from the director. As a courtesy, the DPR will provide the local CAC with a copy of the approval.

What can end users do with SGAR product they have in storage, which they can no longer use?

All end users, including structural pest control businesses, with an unopened container can consider contacting the dealer or registrant to ask about returning it. Alternatively, end users may contact their state or local hazardous waste disposal program to find out how to dispose of SGAR products appropriately.

For uses requiring a restricted material permit, the user is allowed to keep the SGAR, except for sale, of any restricted material listed on the permit after the permit expires.

Does this law affect SGAR applications on federal property?

Other than certain “pollution control standards,” federal agencies and their employees are not subject to California pesticide laws and regulations. The amended law instructs state agencies to encourage federal agencies to comply with the law’s requirements. However, pest control businesses licensed by DPR or registered with the Structural Pest Control Board conducting pest control on federal property are still subject to California laws and regulations.