1 Avoiding incidents with pesticide stocks

   The following action is recommended in order to avoid incidents with pesticide stocks, including stocks of obsolete pesticides.

Instructions for cleaning up spills and leaked pesticides

  1. First read the instructions on the product label or material safety data sheet.
  2. All unauthorized persons should be kept away from the contaminated area.
  3. The store should be ventilated immediately as much as possible.
  4. Work in teams of at least two people. All persons involved should wear appropriate protective clothing. Eyewash, water and soap should be kept at hand.
  5. In case of leakage: pu the leaking drum into another drum, or pump its content into another drum. As a very temporary "first aid" measure, it is often possible to stop leakage by rolling the drum in such a position that the leak is on top.
  6. Absorb the leaked product with absorbent material (sand, sawdust, earth, lime or spill-control material), sweep up and pack the material. Lay a ring (small dike) of absorbent material around the contaminated area. Wet the area with a detergent solution (e.g. 10 percent saturated sodium carbonate solution or 5 percent caustic soda solution), scrub the floor and then sweep the solution into the ring of absorbent material. Remove the material after all liquid has been absorbed. Repeat if necessary. Clean equipment with detergent solution.
  7. Contaminated soft surfaces of earth, sand or gravel should be excavated, packed and labelled. Contaminated absorbent materials and soil should be regarded as hazardous waste and should be carefully packed and properly labelled for disposal or temporary storage until disposal can take place.

N.B. Stores that have once contained pesticides are unsuitable for storage of food items, even when floors have been decontaminated.

2 Appraisal of requests for pesticide donations

Checklist for the appraisal of requests for pesticide donations1

A complete request for pesticides should contain the following information.


  • Purpose for which the pesticides are required.
  • Reason why the use of pesticides is necessary and why alternative non-chemical methods cannot be used.

Product specifications

  • Specifications of the active ingredient and formulation, with a justification for the selected active ingredient and formulation (referring to efficacy; environmental considerations; occupational and public health considerations; and type of application equipment available).


  • Required quantity (referring to the extent of infestation and the size of the area to be treated; present stocks; capacity to distribute the pesticides effectively; application capacity in terms of available equipment and trained staff; and storage capacity).

Packaging requirements

  • Required quality of packaging (referring to climate; storage and transport conditions; foreseen storage period; and risk of prolonged storage).
  • Required package size (referring to the end-user and the available type of application equipment).
  • Required languages for labels.

Hazard reduction

  • Envisaged end-users and degree of knowledge about the appropriate use of pesticides and hazards connected with the use of pesticides (to determine whether training is necessary).
  • Availability of protective clothing at the locality of use (to determine whether protective clothing should be supplied with the pesticides).
  • Availability of antidotes at the locality of use (to determine whether antidotes should be supplied with the pesticides).
  • Availability of facilities to dispose of empty containers (to determine whether a drum crusher should be supplied with the pesticides).

1 Source: OECD, 1995.

3 Recommendations for stacking containers

   If the label does not provide stacking instructions, the recommendations in the following table should be regarded as general guidelines.

Type of package

Maximum number of packs per palette

Maximum number of palettes per stack

Steel drums (200 l)



Steel drums (smaller than 200 l)



Fibre drums (200 l)



Fibre drums (smaller than 200 l)



Plastic drums (200 l)



Plastic drums (smaller than 200 l)



Paper sacks



Plastic sacks



Fibre case containing tins



Fibre case containing soft packages (plastic bottles, sachets)



Wooden cases



Source: UNIDO, 1983.

4 Summary overview of recommended preventive measures to avoid accumulation of obsolete pesticides

Cause of accumulation

Preventive measures

Banning of product

Left over after product banned

Formulate phasing-out clause when banning pesticides (see section 3.3)

Inadequate storage capacity and poor stock management

Insufficient storage capacity for pesticides

Invest in new stores or in upgrading old stores. Avoid procuring pesticide quantities that exceed the storage capacity (Box 2; Annex 1,3)

Staff not trained in stock management

Train staff in stock management, or at least provide them with copies of these and other relevant guidelines (Box 2)

Containers damaged through rough handling during transport

Train staff in the proper handling of pesticides during transport. Shorten transit periods as much as possible. Request repackaging material with each consignment

Unavailability of analytical facilities to determine product quality after prolonged periods of storage

Make arrangements with a laboratory inside or outside the country (section 3.3 and section 3.4)

Donations or purchases in excess of requirements

Inaccurate assessment of requirements

Use checklist to determine requirements. Keep stocks as low as possible. Do not stock up more than a one-season requirement (section 3.3, 3.4; Annex 2)

Lower than expected pest incidence

Keep stocks as low as possible. Purchase only when there is a direct need. Do not establish anticipatory stocks, but improve supply arrangements/systems instead (section 3.3, 3.4)

Overstocking of products with a short shelf-life

Do not stock up large quantities of products with a short shelf-life. Specify the desired product stability in tender documents or direct procurement orders in terms of the minimum storage period the product should last (section 3.3, 3.4; Box 1)

Excessive donations

Do not accept donations in excess of requirements. Aid agencies should not accept requests without a satisfactory justification (section 3.3, 3.4; Annex 2)

Left over because of reduced demand as a result of removal of subsidies

Anticipate a drop in demand when planning requirements at a time that subsidies may be removed (section 3.3)

Unsuitable products

Inappropriate active ingredient or formulation

Determine carefully what is required. Spell out product specifications in the tender document or direct procurement order. Do not accept donations of products that are considered unsuitable for the intended use (section 3.3, 3.3, 3.4)

Inappropriate package type or size

Determine carefully what is required. Spell out packaging specifications in the tender document or direct procurement order. Do not accept donations of products that are packaged inappropriately (section 3.3, 3.4; Box 1)

Missing or incomplete labels

Specify labelling requirements in the tender document or direct procurement order (section 3.3; Box 1)

Fraudulent practices of suppliers

Follow FAO guidelines on tender procedures for procurement of pesticides (section 3.3; Box 1)

5 References and further information


FAO. 1988. Guidelines on retail distribution of pesticides with particular reference to storage and handling at the point of supply to users in developing countries. Rome.

FAO. 1990. International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides (Amended version). Rome.

FAO. 1991. Guidance for governments, Joint FAO/UNEP Programme for the operation of Prior Informed Consent, Rome. [By end-1994, decision guidance documents had been published for aldrin, chlordane, chlordimeform, cyhexatin, DDT, dieldrin, dinoseb, dinoseb salts, EDB, fluorocetamide, HCH (mixed isomers), heptachlor and mercury compounds.]

FAO. 1994a. Guidelines on good labelling practice for pesticides (Revised version). Rome.

FAO. 1994b. Provisional guidelines on tender procedures for the procurement of pesticides. Rome.

FAO. 1995. Guidelines for packaging and storage of pesticides (Revised version). Rome.

FAOa. Manual on the development and use of FAO specifications for plant protection products, 4th ed. Rome. (In preparation)

FAOb. Guidelines on construction of simple pesticide storage facilities, using locally available materials in developing countries. (In preparation)

GIFAP. 1985. Options for ensuring quality in stored products. Technical Monograph No. 10. Brussels.

GIFAP. 1988. Guidelines for safe warehousing of pesticides. Brussels.

GIFAP. 1991. Disposal of unwanted pesticide stocks. Brussels.

GLOBE. 1993. Prevention and elimination of obsolete pesticide stocks in developing countries, Global Legislators' Organization for a Balanced Environment. Amsterdam, AIDEnvironment.

OECD. 1995. Guidelines for aid agencies on pest and pesticide management. DAC Guidelines on Aid and Environment No. 6. Paris.

UN. 1991. Recommendations on the transport of dangerous goods, 7th revised ed. New York.

UNCED. 1992. Agenda 21: Chapter 20 (Environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes including prevention of illegal international traffic in hazardous waste). Adopted 14 June 1992, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

UNEP/FAO/WHOa. Guidelines on disposal of bulk quantities of pesticides in developing countries. (In preparation)

UNEP/FAO/WHOb. Guidelines on disposal of pesticide containers and small quantities of pesticides waste. Guidance for farmers and extension staff. (In preparation)

UNEP/IEO. 1990. Storage of hazardous materials: a technical guide for safe warehousing of hazardous waste. Technical Report Series No. 3. Paris, UNEP Industry and Environment Office.

UNEP/SBC. 1994. Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, 1989. Decisions adopted by the First (1992) and Second (1994) Meetings of the Conference of Parties. Geneva, UNEP Secretariat of the Basel Convention.

UNIDO. 1983. Formulation of pesticides in developing countries. New York.

WHO. Specifications for pesticides used in public health, 7th ed. Geneva. (In preparation)

World Bank. 1993. Guidelines and best practice. Agricultural pest management. (GB 4.03, 1993). Washington, DC.

Also note: the FAO specifications for plant protection products, a continuing series of documents specifying chemical and physical properties of individual pesticides; and the WHO International Chemical Safety Cards, a continuing series of one-page information cards on the safe handling, use and disposal of specific pesticides, published by the WHO International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS).


For further information, contact:

Chief, Plant Protection Service
Plant Production and Protection Division
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome
Fax (39-6)5225 6347

Casa Postale 356
1219 Châtelaine, Geneva
Fax (41-22)797 3460

The publications mentioned above can be ordered from the following addresses:

Publications Division
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome

Avenue Hamoir 12
1180 Brussels

Development Co-operation Directorate
Head, Economics and Environment
2, Rue AndrÉPascal
75775 Paris Cedex 16

The Director of IRPTC
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10

20, Avenue Appia
CH-1211 Geneva 27

World Bank
Agricultural Policies Division
1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

6 Definitions

   For the purpose of these guidelines the following terms are used. Definitions marked with a "C" have been adopted from the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides. Definitions marked with a "B" have been adopted from the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal. Unmarked definitions have been drawn up specifically for the purpose of this document.

Active ingredient means the biologically active part of the pesticide present in a formulation (C).

Banned means a pesticide for which all registered uses have been prohibited by final government regulatory action, or for which all requests for registration or equivalent action for all uses have, for health or environmental reasons, not been granted (C).

Disposal means any operation to recycle, neutralize, destruct, or isolate products. Disposal operations are specified in Annex IV to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.

Distribution means the process by which pesticides are supplied through trade channels on local or international markets (C).

Environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes or other wastes means taking all practicable steps to ensure that hazardous wastes or other wastes are managed in a manner which will protect human health and the environment against the adverse affects which may result from such wastes (B).

Formulation means the combination of various ingredients designed to render the product useful and effective for the purpose claimed; the form of the pesticide as purchased by users (C).

Hazard means the likelihood that a pesticide will cause an adverse effect (injury) under the conditions in which it is used (C).

Integrated pest management means a pest management system that, in the context of the associated environment and the population dynamics of the pest species, utilizes all suitable techniques and methods in as compatible a manner as possible and maintains the pest populations at levels below those causing economically unacceptable damage or loss (C).

Label means the written, printed or graphic matter on, or attached to, the pesticide; or the immediate container thereof and the outside container or wrapper of the retail package of the pesticide (C).

Manufacturer means a corporation or other entity in the public or private sector or any individual engaged in the business or function (whether directly or through an agent or through an entity controlled by or under contract with it) of manufacturing a pesticide active ingredient or preparing its formulation or product (C).

Obsolete pesticides means stocked pesticides that can no longer be used for their original purpose or any other purpose and therefore require disposal. Such pesticides can no longer be used because their use has been banned, because they have deteriorated, or because they are not suitable for the use originally intended and cannot be used for another purpose, nor can they easily be modified to become usable.

Packaging means the container together with the protective wrapping used to carry pesticide products via wholesale or retail distribution to users (C).

Pesticide means any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying or controlling any pest, including vectors of human or animal disease, unwanted species of plants or animals causing harm during or otherwise interfering with the production, processing, storage, transport, or marketing of food, agricultural commodities, wood and wood products or animal feedstuffs, or which may be administered to animals for the control of insects, arachnids or other pests in or on their bodies. The term includes substances intended for use as a plant growth regulator, defoliant, desiccant, or agent for thinning fruit or preventing the premature fall of fruit, and substances applied to crops either before or after harvest to protect the commodity from deterioration during storage and transport (C).

Pesticide industry means all those organizations and individuals engaged in manufacturing, formulating or marketing pesticides and pesticide products (C).

Pesticide legislation means any laws or regulations introduced to regulate the manufacture, marketing, storage, labelling, packaging and use of pesticides in their qualitative, quantitative and environmental aspects (C).

Poison means a substance that can cause disturbance of structure or function, leading to injury or death when absorbed in relatively small amounts by human beings, plants or animals (C).

Poisoning means occurrence of damage or disturbance caused by a poison, and includes intoxication (C).

Prior Informed Consent (PIC) refers to the principle that international shipment of a pesticide that is banned or severely restricted in order to protect human health or the environment should not proceed without the agreement, where such agreement exists, or contrary to the decision of the designated national authority in the participating importing country (C).

Prior Informed Consent Procedure (PIC procedure) means the procedure for formally obtaining and disseminating the decisions of importing countries as to whether they wish to receive future shipments of pesticides that have been banned or severely restricted. A specific procedure was established for selecting pesticides for initial implementation of the PIC procedures. These include pesticides that have been previously banned or severely restricted as well as certain pesticide formulations that are acutely toxic (C). This procedure is described in FAO (1991), (see Annex 5).

Product means the pesticide in the form in which it is packed and sold; it usually contains an active ingredient plus adjuvants and may require dilution prior to use (C).

Protective clothing means any clothes, materials or devices that are designed to reduce exposure to pesticides when they are handled or applied (C).

Registration means the process whereby the responsible national government authority approves the sale and use of a pesticide following the evaluation of comprehensive scientific data demonstrating that the product is effective for the purposes intended and not unduly hazardous to human health or the environment (C).

Repackaging means the transfer of pesticide from any commercial package into any other, usually smaller, container for subsequent sale (C).

Severely restricted - a limited ban - means a pesticide for which virtually all registered uses have been prohibited by final government regulatory action but certain specific registered use or uses remain authorized (C).

Toxicity means a physiological or biological property which determines the capacity of a chemical to do harm or produce injury to a living organism by other than mechanical means (C).

Unwanted pesticides means pesticides that are not wanted or needed by the owner. These include obsolete pesticides (products that definitely cannot be used any more and require disposal), as well as pesticides of which the use has not been prohibited, which are in good condition and in principle could still be used, but are not being used for various reasons.

Wastes means substances or objects which are disposed of, or are intended to be disposed of, or are required to be disposed of by the provisions of national law (B).