This week, we’ll be discussing something many people try to avoid – pesticides.

According to Health Canada: “A pesticide is any product, device, organism, substance or thing that is manufactured, represented, sold or used as a means for directly or indirectly controlling, preventing, destroying, mitigating, attracting or repelling any pest.”

They can include herbicides (used against weeds), insecticides (used against bugs), fungicides (used against fungus), repellents, and even devices like mouse traps.

Since pests can affect our quality of life such as undermining the structural integrity of buildings, decreasing the productivity of gardens, and damaging sensitive ecosystems to name just a few reasons, we have turned to using pesticides to try to control unwanted organisms.

While many people equate pesticides to dangerous and harmful chemicals, pesticides can be homemade using household ingredients like vinegar and borax. Many pesticides can also be purchased commercially, and there are strict regulations and requirements when it comes to their use and application.

For products that are sold to control bugs, pesticides are a regulated category of products and in Canada, fall under 3 main categories: domestic (for personal use in and around the home), commercial (used in commercial activities generally in and around the home), and restricted (those that can be used certain circumstances by specially-trained individuals.

In Ontario, there are 11 main categories of pesticides that can be sold and used in this province. These are regulated by the federal Pest Control Products Act. For home gardeners, the most common products will fall under Class 6, which are those pesticides most commonly used in household applications. These are the least hazardous and are sold in amounts less than or equal to 1 kilogram or 1 litre. Class 6 pesticides can be bought and sold without a license unlike other categories of pesticides, and you also don’t need a license to use them.

For all other applications, especially those that may pose a higher risk to human and environmentla health, a permit is required, with different permits being required for different provinces. Click here for more information on Ontario pesticide licensing requirements.

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