Source: UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE submitted to
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Sep 1, 2011
Project End Date
Aug 31, 2012
Grant Year
Project Director
Seitz, J. A.
Recipient Organization
Performing Department
Entomology and Wildlife Ecology
Non Technical Summary
Under an agreement with the US EPA, individual state Pesticide Safety Education Programs (PSEPs) provide training for applicators of restricted use pesticides (i.e., those designated as potential hazards to human or environmental health even when used according to label directions). The PSEP coordinators of each Land Grant University are responsible for the program in their state or territory. In Delaware, initial training for certification is conducted primarily through self-study manuals, but private applicators (growers) have the option of attending supplemental training offered by county Extension agents. Recertification training is offered for both private and commercial applicators. The Delaware PSEP Coordinator provides state leadership on pesticide safety education and serves as a liaison to state and federal pesticide agencies on matters affecting pesticide users throughout the state. Specifically, the Coordinator provides leadership and develops materials for PSEP; offers annual in-service professional development training for Extension educators throughout the state; plans, implements and evaluates major conferences for pesticide applicators in forest, right-of-way, mosquito, and aquatic categories; and maintains and updates the Pesticide Education and Assessment Program website and the internal website for professional development of UDE pesticide safety educators in the counties, regions, and on campus. Outputs include: initial development and revisions of training materials (manuals, fact sheets, PowerPoint presentations) for pesticide applicators; initial development and revisions of background materials (fact sheets, web-based materials) for UDE pesticide safety educators; postings to the public website for access by pesticide applicators, other stakeholders and the general public; postings to the internal website for UDE pesticide safety educators. Outcomes from UDE PSEP are due to improvements in pesticide applicators' safe and effective use of pesticides, and include short-, medium-, and long-term horizons. Short-term outcomes include: improvement in knowledge, skills, and attitudes of pesticide applicators. Medium-term outcomes include adoption of recommended practices by pesticide applicators. Long-term outcomes include: maintenance/improvement of personal health & safety for applicators and their families; maintenance/improvement of public health; and maintenance/improvement of environmental integrity.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Goals / Objectives
The Delaware Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP) provides research-based outreach to pesticide applicators to maintain/improve personal safety, public safety, and environmental integrity/health. The objectives are to (1)increase applicators' knowledge of safe and effective pesticide choice, use, and disposal; (2) build applicators' pesticide handling skills, and (3) improve pesticide applicators' attitudes and adoption of recommended pesticide handling practices.
Project Methods
The Delaware Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP) uses a variety of methods to teach occupational pesticide users, occasional users, and the general public how to best protect and/or improve personal and public health as well as maintain and/or improve environmental integrity when using pesticides. Activities include presenting educational programs in a classroom setting or hands-on environment; developing, updating and distributing manuals, fact sheets, and other educational materials; offering certification and recertification training programs; and informing pesticide applicators of programs, materials, and new policies/regulations impacting proper pesticide use. Timely, updated information is presented through (1) a public website ( for pesticide applicators (2) an internal website for professional development of Extension pesticide educators within the state, and (3) the Just-In-Time listserv for pesticide applicators and other stakeholders interested in remaining informed of time-sensitive pesticide issues. The Delaware PSEP Coordinator works closely with the Delaware Department of Agriculture to identify the needs and activities for the year.

Progress 09/01/11 to 08/31/12

OUTPUTS: (1) PESTICIDE APPLICATOR CERTIFICATION AND RECERTIFICATION. (a) Commercial applicators in Right-of-Way, Aquatic, and Forest Pest Control categories achieved recertification in Delaware through attending the Maryland Pesticide Safety Conference. The Conference was organized by Dr. Amy Brown, the PSEP Coordinator for Delaware and Maryland. (b) More than 250 pesticide applicators were trained for recertification through a PSEP presentation at the Delaware Horticultural Industry Expo. (c) More than 150 tree professionals were trained for recertification through a PSEP presentation at the 2nd Annual Arborist and Tree Care Seminar. (d) Applicators also were recertified through attendance at University of Delaware Cooperative Extension Ornamental Horticulture Short Courses. (2) PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT. In-service training on pesticide issues was offered for University of Delaware extension educators. Topics covered included discussion/distribution of new resources for pesticide safety education (18 PowerPoints and other teaching tools; regulatory & policy update; emerging/evolving issues, including Web-distributed labeling, "green" labels, bilingual labels; Agricultural Health Study outreach for applicators; NIOSH Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) barriers project & related issues; illegal use of acephate on watermelons; cancellation of azinphos-methyl uses; arthropod-borne disease transmission & pesticides; and a report on from the First International PPE Symposium in Brazil. PARTICIPANTS: Amy E. Brown, Professor, Department of Entomology, University of Maryland College Park, serves as Coordinator of PSEP for Delaware as well as Maryland. In this role, Dr. Brown provided coordination between Extension educators and federal and state authorities; served as a resource on pesticide safety for Extension educators; developed, distributed, acquired and provided access to pesticide safety teaching materials; offered recertification training opportunities for commercial applicators in certain categories; and developed and maintained an internal website for Delaware Extension educators whose responsibilities include providing pesticide information and education. University of Delaware Extension professionals involved in PSEP during this period included Extension Agents Dot Abbott, Bill Brown, Valann Budischak, Bill Cissel, Brian Kunkel, Carrie Murphy, Phillip Sylvester, Cory Whaley, and Tracy Wootten; and Extension Specialists Bill Mulrooney, Richard Taylor, Mark VanGessel, Joanne Whalen, and Mark Isaacs. TARGET AUDIENCES: (1) The primary target audiences consists of pesticide applicators, including (a.) commercial and private applicators; (b) those working under the supervision of a certified applicator; (c)those whose job-related responsibilities include at least occasional application of pesticides (e.g., employees of schools, day care facilities, parks, restaurants, etc.). (2) A secondary audience is comprised of those whose jobs require them to reenter pesticide-treated areas and thus may be exposed to pesticide residues (primarily workers at farms, forests, greenhouses, and nurseries). (3) Another target audience comprises Delaware residents who may apply pesticide to their own yards or homes, and/or those who have questions about the use of pesticides, residues in food and water, exposure and its implications, etc. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

In January 2012, a presentation on pesticide safety education, developed and delivered at the Delaware Horticultural Industry Expo by the PSEP Coordinator, was evaluated for impacts. Questions were incorporated into the presentation using audience response system technology (commonly referred to as "clickers"). First, clicker questions were presented to collect baseline data on current use of pesticide safety practices by attendees. The the presenter covered basic principles of exposure including routes of exposure and acute, chronic/delayed, and allergic responses; current research results on pesticide-related illnesses based on data from the Agricultural Health Study, an ongoing large-scale investigation of exposures and outcomes in agricultural pesticide applicators; and best practices to reduce exposure to pesticides. At the end of the presentation, another set of clicker questions queried attendees about their expected adoption of the recommended practices based on what the attendees learned during the PSEP presentation. Current practices were then compared to the intended practices as a measure of the impact of the educational program presented. The following results were obtained (n = 253 applicators); for each pair, the first figure represents self-reported practice; the second figure represents intended adoption of the practice. (1) Use of chemical-protective gloves while applying any pesticide -- 58% before, 78% after; (2) Use of extra personal protective equipment (PPE) during mixing & loading concentrates -- 22% before, 51% after; (3) Washing hands before eating, smoking, or using the toilet -- 73% before, 82% after; (4) After pesticide application, showering before greeting family members -- 50% before, 79% after. (5) Washing PPE separately from household laundry -- 58% before, 100% after. The above-listed figures are for BEST practices, and these results demonstrate a significant increase in their adoption. Smaller shifts were also shown in moving from worst to "better" practices. Practices 1 - 3 provide information about practices that would protect the individual applicator, while numbers 4 - 5 would protect family members from pesticide residue transfer. Overall, this evaluation provides evidence that PSEP information can change the intentions of pesticide applicators and could be expected to have potentially significant effects on protecting and maintaining health of the applicator and his/her family. A current research project by the PSEP Coordinator is investigating the relationship between intended and actual adoption of recommended practices by pesticide applicators.


  • Brown, A.E. 2012. A low-cost method of evaluating outreach-based changes in recommended practices. J. Pestic. Safety Educ. 14:13-22.
  • Brown, A.E., C. Ramsay and C. Foss. 2012. Pairing epidemiological research results with a practical message to improve pesticide applicators' personal safety practices. J. Pesticide Safety Educ. 14:23-32.
  • Brown, A. E. 2012. Pesticide Resources for Delaware Extension Educators. Internal website at This password-protected internal website serves the needs of Maryland Extension educators and includes 12 sub-pages.