Pesticide Application Requirements at Children's Camps

This guidance was developed to help children’s camp operators comply with outdoor pesticide applications. It covers use of pesticides such as insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, and others as defined in Environmental Conservation Law (ENV) § 33-0101.35. This guidance was developed in cooperation with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Pesticides are:

  • Any substance(s) intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest.
  • Any substance(s) intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant or desiccant.

All pesticide applications at children’s camps must be done by a DEC-certified pesticide applicator or technician. This includes applications of pesticides that are exempt from the requirements outlined in this guidance.


If the children’s camp is located in a county that has adopted the Neighbor Notification Law (NNL), the pesticide applicator must adhere to all notification requirements.

Public Health Law (PBH) § 1396(2) prohibits, with some exceptions (listed below), the application of pesticides to any playground, turf or athletic or playing field at children's camps. It applies to:

  • Regulated children’s camps
  • Non-regulated children’s camps (defined in General Business Law (GBS) § 398-f that are not subject to regulation under Subpart 7-2 of Title 10 of the New York Codes, Rules, and Regulations)
Camps on publicly owned or leased property in New York City are not part of these requirements.

While the camp is in session, Public Health Law (PBH) § 1396(2) applies to playground, turf, athletic or playing fields utilized by regulated and non-regulated camps that operate at college campuses, town-owned parks, or multi-use facilities. Any necessary pesticide application to the playground, turf or athletic or playing field should be done at least one-month (30 days) prior to the camp’s start date or after the camp has ended for the season.

Pesticide Applications Exempt from these Requirements

Application of the following specific pesticide product types is allowed under PBH § 1396(1):

  • Antimicrobial products as defined by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) in 7 US Code §136 (mm) and 136q(h)(2).
  • Aerosol products with a directed spray in containers of 18-fluid ounces or less used to protect individuals from an imminent threat from stinging and biting insects, including venomous spiders, bees, wasps, and hornets. Fogger products or aerosol products that discharge to a wide area are not exempt.
  • Nonvolatile rodenticides in tamper resistant bait stations or in areas inaccessible to children.
  • Products containing boric acid or disodium octaborate tetrahydrate.
  • Horticultural oils and soaps that do not contain synthetic pesticides or synergists.
  • Pesticides classified as “exempt” from registration by the US EPA under 40 CFR Part 152.25.

Emergency Determinations

  • A one-time application of a non-exempt, prohibited pesticide may be applied to address a public health or environmental emergency.
  • Emergency determinations to use a non-exempt, prohibited pesticide at a regulated children’s camp (as defined in PBH § 1392(1) and (2)) are made by the local health department for the county where the camp is located.
  • A non-regulated children’s camp (as defined in General Business Law (GBS) §398-f) must seek a determination from the NYS DOH's Bureau of Toxic Substance Assessment at (518) 402-7800 or
  • If the children’s camp is in a county that has adopted the NNL, a good faith effort must be made to provide the 48-hour notification.

A request to use a non-exempt, prohibited pesticide should be for an imminent public health threat that happens unexpectedly or needs immediate action. The use of a non-exempt, prohibited pesticide is warranted when its use would significantly reduce the threat to the safety and health of children and adults present. Some examples include:

  • An unusual infestation of a vector population, such as ticks that may carry human pathogens.
  • Situations that may arise in the future, but that have not yet been identified or are not currently problems in New York State (e.g., establishment of fire ant colonies).

The following situations generally would not warrant the use of a non-exempt, prohibited pesticide under PBH § 1396:

  • Issues that can be managed with the allowed products or alternative pest management methods (even when it takes time to learn and fully practice pesticide alternatives).
  • Routine or repetitive pest problem or a normal population of insect species that occur on a seasonal basis and do not usually rise to the level of a public health or environmental threat that constitutes an emergency.
  • Pesticide applications for aesthetic reasons, such as the presence or growth of any undesired species.
  • Treatment of pests or plants that impact the quality of turf on sports playing fields. Bare patches and ruts are not considered a public health threat that constitutes an emergency, even for those playing on them.

More Information

  • Your local health department (regulated children’s camps) or the NYS DOH’s Bureau of Toxic Substance Assessment (non-regulated children’s camps) at (518) 402-7800 or for emergency determinations and health information.
  • Your Regional DEC Office for compliance with pesticide regulations.
  • DEC at (518) 402-8768 for information on invasive species and outdoor pesticide applications.

Resources for Managing Grounds Without Pesticides