Skip to main content
Pesticide News

New pesticide laws around schools

school football field

Illinois pesticide applicators should familiarize themselves with two new laws that restrict pesticide applications around schools. The intent of course is to minimize student exposure to pesticides when they are used to reduce the risks to students from noxious weeds, disease bearing insects, and other pests that can result in unlevel playing surfaces.

Pesticide Application at Schools Act

The Pesticide Application at Schools Act (SB1772) provides that, beginning July 1, 2024, a school serving students grades kindergarten through 8th grade is prohibited from scheduling pesticide applications on school grounds during the school day, including during a partial day, when students are in attendance at school for instructional purposes. Areas     prohibited from treatment include paved surfaces, playgrounds, and playing fields. This Section shall not apply to areas of school grounds where children are not typically present, including, but not limited to, flower beds and lawns surrounding the school not used as playing fields. 

Amended Illinois Pesticide Act

Another newer law that many still are unaware of bans the use of restricted use pesticides near schools. The Illinois Pesticide Act was amended to ban the application of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) within 500 feet of any school. If the pesticide label is more restrictive, then that should be followed. For specific changes to the Act, please see Public Act 102-0548. While this became effective January 1, 2022, the enforcement rules were determined by the Illinois Department of Agriculture in 2023.

The administrative rules state the following: 

Any person who uses a restricted use pesticide on or within 500 feet of school property during normal hours, except for whole structure fumigation, shall be assessed a penalty of $1,000. As used in this section, "normal school hours" means Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m., excluding days when classes are not in session.

A restricted use pesticide is a pesticide that, without additional regulatory restrictions, may cause unreasonable adverse effects to the environment or the applicator. An RUP is for retail sale to and use by only certified applicators or persons under their direct supervision and only for those uses covered by the certified applicator’s certification. Certified applicators have demonstrated that they have the knowledge to use these pesticides safely and effectively. Reasons for restricting product use include acute toxicity, environmental safety, and residue effects harmful to birds or other animals. Every pesticide is classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) at the time of registration. In classifying a pesticide for either general use or restricted use, the US EPA considers the toxicity of the pesticide, how the pesticide will be used, and its effect on the environment. 

The pesticide label identifies RUPs with this statement: “Restricted use pesticide for retail sale to and use only by Certified Applicators or persons under their direct supervisions and only for those uses covered by the Certified Applicator’s certification.” Certain products are for use by certified applicators only, which will be specified in this box. Read carefully. The restricted-use statement must appear at the top of the front panel. Often this statement includes the specific hazard of the product (groundwater concerns, toxicity to fish, etc.)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Wiesbrook provides subject matter expertise and training in pesticide safety with an emphasis on horticultural weed science. She serves as the Illinois Pesticide Review newsletter editor, collecting and organizing material; and co-coordinates social media information for the PSEP program and ensures its timely publication. Her other interests include herbicide injury and invasive species.