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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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April 23, 2014

Contact:Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Larry Ragonese (609) 292-2994
Bob Considine (609) 984-1795


(14/P31) TRENTON – With the spring boom in home, landscape and gardening activities kicking up now, the Department of Environmental Protection today urged New Jersey residents to use caution when applying pesticides, and to employ only licensed commercial pesticide applicators when hiring for pest control services that include pesticide product applications.

Similarly, the DEP also reminds residents to use lawn and garden fertilizers that comply with New Jersey’s strict content standards for nitrogen and phosphorus, or to hire certified fertilizer applicators for their lawn care.

"While this is typically the time of year when we care for and beautify our properties, it’s important to remember we have an obligation to the environment, to our neighbors and to ourselves. When it comes to applying pesticides, we suggest using them sparingly or to explore non-chemical alternatives whenever possible,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin.

“Additionally, an overabundance of nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizer can hurt lawns and plants, stimulate algae and weed growth in our waterways through stormwater runoff and ultimately choke healthy aquatic life. It is important to remember the steps we can all take to reduce these risks,” added Commissioner Martin.

Professional pesticide applicators for weed, termite and household pest controls are licensed through the DEP’s Pesticide Control Program and are required to carry a license when applying pesticides. The use of pesticides by unlicensed and untrained applicators increases the risk of harm or damage to human health and the environment.  

The DEP’s Bureau of Pesticide Compliance is increasing efforts this spring and summer to bring unlicensed applicators into compliance with state pesticide regulations. Residents who suspect a misapplication of pesticide or wish to report an unlicensed applicator should call the bureau at (609) 984-6568 or the DEP’s 24-hour hotline, 1-877-WARN-DEP.

For a pesticide health emergency, call the New Jersey Poison Information System at 1-800-222-1222.

“The certification and licensing of commercial applicators provides the necessary training and expertise to effectively apply pesticides with a minimum of risk to people and the environment,” said Knute Jensen, Director of DEP’s Division of Licensing Operations, Solid Waste & Pesticide Enforcement.

On January 5, 2011, Governor Chris Christie signed into law one of the most restrictive fertilizer content standards in the nation for nitrogen and phosphorus. The law was passed to address nonpoint source pollution caused by misuse of fertilizers. 

Since January, 2012, all professional fertilizer applicators and lawn care providers are required to undergo training and become certified through the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University. Hiring a certified fertilizer applicator can help ensure the proper use of fertilizer on and around your property.

All fertilizer products for turf must contain at least 20 percent slow-release nitrogen, and zero phosphorus - unless a soil test demonstrates a need for more. The DEP urges consumers to check the first and second number on the package for nitrogen and phosphate content. (For example, Formula 26-0-3 means no phosphate). The purchase and proper use of this new, reformulated fertilizer can help reduce the amount of nitrogen that can enter a waterway.

Do-it-yourselfers are also asked to use fertilizer wisely by following the directions on the fertilizer bag and using the proper spreader settings. It is recommended to not apply fertilizer if a heavy rain is forecasted and to sweep up excess fertilizer.

For more information on using fertilizer in New Jersey, visit:

For more information, visit the DEP Pesticide Control Program's website at:




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Last Updated: April 23, 2014