Government of Nova Scotia Government of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia, Canada


Pests and Pesticides

Non-Essential Pesticide Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What products are on the on the allowable list?

A: The List of Allowable Pesticides (allowable list) includes such things as: soaps, horticultural vinegar, sulphur, iron, diatomaceous earth, corn gluten meal, and borax. A complete list is available at the above link or by contacting your local Nova Scotia Environment office.

Q: What makes pesticides on the allowable list lower risk?

A: The pesticides on the allowable list have been approved by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency at Health Canada. They are considered to pose a lower risk to humans and the environment based on toxicity, persistence in the environment, and ability to build up, or bioaccumulate, in living organisms.

Q: Will pesticides still be available to eliminate lawn damaging pests, weeds and insects?

A: Pesticides on the allowable list (designated by the Minister of Environment) will still be widely available. If you are considering using a pesticide you should consult the “allowable list” of products to see if one is available for use against your pest problem. Homeowners should discuss any lawn pest problems they have with their local vendor/garden centre.

Q: Do the regulations require people to post a sign when they are applying pesticides?

A: While Nova Scotia Environment supports neighbours talking with one another (especially if someone self-identifies as having sensitivities), homeowners are not required to post signs when applying pesticides.

Q: The regulations include a number of exceptions to the prohibition on use or sale of pesticides for lawns and ornamental plants. What would be considered an exemption?

A: Nova Scotia Environment recognizes that there are some circumstances that may require the use of a pesticide that is not on the allowable list. Regulations were created to outline the circumstances in which pesticides not on the allowable list may be used on lawns and ornamental gardens.

These circumstances include the control of insects, plants and fungi that may:

  • be a health concern, such as European Fire Ant;
  • be poisonous to the touch, such as poison ivy;
  • be an invasive species, such as Japanese Knotweed; or
  • cause structural damage to buildings, such as carpenter ants.

Excepted pesticides will be available at stores with vendors certified by Nova Scotia Environment. It is important to remember that many pests can be controlled without pesticides.

Q: Will pesticides for these exemptions be widely available?

A: Pesticides that are not on the allowable list, but which may be permitted for excepted uses, will be available through retailers who hold a Class 1 certificate of qualification from Nova Scotia Environment (see: vendor certification requirements). To obtain pesticides not on the allowable list, purchasers will need to speak to a qualified vendor and receive written information regarding the legal use of the pesticide, as well as best practices.

Q: How important is it to read the label on pesticide products?

A: Very important. The label explains how to use the pesticide properly. It describes what pests the product controls and under what conditions, and provides directions for mixing and applying it. Labels also contain precautions regarding exposure and disposal of the pesticide.

Q: How will vendors and purchasers know whether a particular pesticide is an "exception" under the regulations?

A: Nova Scotia Environment is responsible for determining excepted uses, that is, the circumstances in which pesticides not on the allowable list may be legally used. Information on excepted uses will be provided to certified vendors by Nova Scotia Environment. Homeowners should discuss any lawn pest problems they have with their local vendor/garden centre.

Q: Why are pesticides that are not on the allowable list being removed from store shelves?

A: The intent of the legislation is to encourage homeowners and property managers to use the lower risk pesticides on the allowable list, if pesticides are necessary at all. If shelves are filled with other pesticides, it will be more difficult for consumers to make the right choice. If homeowners or property managers need a product for an excepted use, they can still buy it from a certified vendor.

Q: How will Nova Scotia Environment enforce the new pesticide rules?

A: Nova Scotia Environment is helping Nova Scotians transition to the new rules by ensuring that only lower risk products are widely available. Like other jurisdictions, our compliance program will emphasize education. In addition, the department will also audit vendors to ensure they are abiding by the rules. Furthermore, staff within the department have the authority to issue a fine of up to $2500 to any person who contravenes the use and sale prohibitions in the Non-essential Pesticides Control Act.

Q: How do the province’s pesticide rules fit with municipal pesticide bylaws?

A:In areas where pesticide bylaws exist, Nova Scotians are required to follow provincial rules and municipal bylaws. For information regarding the legislation and regulations, Nova Scotians can contact their local Nova Scotia Environment office (provide link to regional offices location and contact information) or call 1-855-455-4034; or email questions to Questions about municipal bylaws should be directed to municipalities.

Q: Could the combination of provincial and municipal bylaws result in a patchwork of rules across the province?

A: The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities asked the provincial government to develop a province-wide ban on the use and sale of non-essential pesticides to put all municipalities on a level playing field.

Q: Why hasn’t the province implemented a permitting system?

A: Permitting systems require substantial human resources to be effective. Sales restrictions, education and enforcement at point of sale are the most effective means of helping Nova Scotians transition to healthy lawn maintenance and ornamental gardening.

Q: Are homemade pesticide recipes safe and effective?

A: Nova Scotia Environment cannot recommend the use of homemade pesticides. Just because a pesticide is made with ingredients found in supermarkets and homes, does not mean it is safe for humans or the environment. Under federal legislation, all pesticides must be approved by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Health Canada before they can be used or sold in Canada.

Q: Is there a way to maintain a lawn without the use of pesticides?

A: To maintain a healthy and attractive lawn, you don’t need to rely on chemical pesticides. In fact, preventing lawn problems is usually much easier than trying to treat them after they start. Proper mowing, watering, fertilizing and other maintenance practices can help prevent pest infestations.

Q: Will products commonly known as "weed and feed" still be available?

A: The weed and feed products that contain 2,4-d will be eliminated from the marketplace. This is consistent with every province east of Manitoba. However, products that contain corn gluten meal and advertised as “weed and feed” can continue being sold without restriction.

Q: Why did Nova Scotia base its allowable list on the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and the Canadian General Standards Board Permitted Substances lists?

A: Nova Scotia Environment evaluated a number of different lists based on toxicity and biodegradability. The Ontario list was chosen initially as a result of this evaluation. After consultation, this list was expanded using the Canadian General Standards Board’s Organic Production Systems Permitted Substances List to address certain lawn pests prevalent in Nova Scotia.