Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatique
Home Site Map Qué E-Mail Search About the site Français

The Pesticides Management Code

Protecting the environment and health in agricultural areas

 Milieu agricole - Photo : N. Boulianne, Ministère de l'EnvironnementUpdated: April 2019

Other documents

Circular notices relating to regulatory amendments: Preventing groundwater contamination by pesticides - Protecting your health and the environment (French, PDF, 189 KB)
Safe stand-off distance when using air-blast or pneumatic sprayers – Instruction Notes (French)

The Pesticides Management Code introduces regulations controlling the storage, sale and use of pesticides. The enactment of the Code is among the initiatives undertaken by the government of Québec to reduce the health and environmental risks that these products entail. As regards the agricultural sector, these regulations are designed to ensure that farm producers use pesticides with all the necessary prudence and precautions.

The use of pesticides in agricultural areas may cause water, air and soil contamination and thus represents a risk to public health, including the health of your family, friends and neighbours. Surface water and groundwater sampling programs, undertaken by the Ministère in regions characterized by intensive potato, corn and soybean cultivation, have led to regular detection of pesticides in the wells and river water sampled.

Moreover, the results of a study of pesticide use in apple orchards have revealed that when pesticides are applied, residues are transported beyond the target areas to be discovered in the air and on the soil of neighbouring land.

The Pesticides Management Code and you

These regulations affect the storage, preparation and application of pesticides in agricultural areas. Permit and certificate holders targeted by the Regulation respecting permits and certificates for the sale and use of pesticides.

Permit and certificate holders from the agricultural sector who are targeted by the pesticide regulations are as follows:

  • holders of Class C permit, “Remunerated Work permit” and Class D “Non-Remunerated Work permit”:
    • Subclasses C1 and D1 “Aerial Application”
    • Subclasses C6 and D6 “Application by Fumigation”
    • Subclasses C8 “Application on Cultivated Land”
    • Subclasses C10 and D10 “Application in Buildings for Horticultural Purposes”
  • holders of the following certificates:
    • Class CD “Certificate for the Application of Pesticides”
      • Subclass CD1 “Certificate for Aerial Application”
      • Subclass CD6 “Certificate for Fumigation;”
      • Subclass CD8 “Certificate for Application on Cultivated Land”
      • Subclass CD10 “Certificate for Application in Buildings for Horticultural Purposes”
    • Class E “Farmer’s Certificate for the Application of Pesticides,” subclasses E1, E1.1, E2, E3 and E5

Pesticide classifications are established according to the Regulation respecting permits and certificates for the sale and use of pesticides. They differ from the federal classifications.



  Class 1
Pesticides for restricted use Class 2
Pesticides for commercial, agricultural or industrial use Class 3
Class 3A*
Pesticides for domestic use Classes 4 and 5
* Neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid or thiamethoxam) that coat the seeds of certain crops (oats, wheat, canola, corn, grain corn, sweet corn, barley or soybeans)

Storage regulations

  • Class 1 to Class 4 pesticides, including Class 3A, must be stored in premises where the ambient conditions are not likely to alter the product or its container, and in such a manner that its contents are not released into the environment. However, this requirement does not apply to a Class 4 pesticide stored for personal use or for another person free of charge (e.g., an exchange of services).
  • A sign (PDF, 77 KB) indicating the list of certain services (e.g., the Centre Anti-Poison du Québec) and their telephone numbers must be posted in a conspicuous place near the entrance to the storage premises. However, this requirement does not apply to a Class 4 pesticide stored for personal use or for another person free of charge (e.g., an exchange of services).
  • A person who stores Class 1, Class 2 or Class 3 pesticides must have on the premises adequate equipment and material capable of stopping any leak or release of pesticides and, if required, of cleaning the premises. In the event of a leak or release of pesticides, the person must immediately take measures to stop the leak or release and clean the premises.
  • A person who stores Class 1, Class 2, Class 3 or Class 4 unprepared or undiluted pesticides in quantities equal to or greater than 1,000 litres or 1,000 kilograms must immediately notify Urgence-Environnement in the event of pesticide fire, and specify at that time the nature of the stored pesticides and the approximate quantity stored on the premises.
  • The storage of Class 1, Class 2 or Class 3 pesticides within a flood area that is mapped or identified in a development plan or a metropolitan land use planning and development plan or in a municipal zoning by-law is subject to the following conditions:
  • Within a flood area having a flood recurrence interval of 0 to 20 years

It is prohibited to store pesticides in this area.

Within a flood area having a flood recurrence interval of 20 to 100 years

It is prohibited to store pesticides in this area, except under the following conditions:

  • the quantity of stored pesticides is less than 100 litres or 100 kilograms;
  • the quantity of stored pesticides is equal to or greater than 100 litres or 100 kilograms and the storage time is less than 15 consecutive days;
  • the pesticides are stored higher than the highest level reached by water in a 100-year interval flood.
  • Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 unprepared or undiluted pesticides must be stored in premises having a containment works. The same applies to any person who stores a quantity equal to or greater than 100 litres or 100 kilograms of these pesticides for a period longer than 15 consecutive days, particularly pesticides stored on application sites or close to buildings.

A containment works is a floor, platform or watertight basin built so as to contain and allow for the complete recovery of any pesticide leak or spillage.

Do you need civil liability insurance for damage to the environment?

A civil liability insurance contract is required under the Pesticides Management Code for premises with a storage capacity greater than 10,000 litres or 10,000 kilograms for Class 1 to Class 4 unprepared or undiluted pesticides. The contract must include a provision under which the insurer undertakes to notify the Ministère within 48 hours following the revocation, cancellation, termination or modification of the insurance contract coverage.


Regulations governing pesticide preparation and application

  • The preparation and application of any pesticide must be carried out in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions appearing on the label. Where the instructions and a provision of the Pesticides Management Code are inconsistent, the more restrictive of the two applies.
  • Adequate equipment and material must be available on premises where pesticides are loaded or prepared capable of stopping any leak or release of pesticides and, if required, of cleaning the premises. In the event of such a leak or release, measures must immediately be taken to stop the leak or release and clean the premises. The person loading or preparing the pesticides must remain on site throughout the operations.
  • The unloading of unprepared or undiluted pesticides from a mobile tank or from the tank of equipment used for pesticide application, with the exception of an aircraft, must be carried out in a containment works.
What is a tank or mobile tank?

The term “tank” is used here to designate a tank with a capacity of 1,000 litres or more, permanently installed and used to store Class 1 to Class 4 liquid pesticides.

The term “mobile tank” is used here to designate a tank with a capacity of 1,000 litres or more that is used to store Class 1 to Class 4 liquid pesticides, that can be attached to a truck, trailer or semi-trailer and that can be moved. Mobile tanks are used, for example, by pesticide distributors.

  • The water supply system used in pesticide preparation must be designed to prevent pesticide backflow to the water supply source (anti-backflow system).
  • Equipment used for the application, loading or unloading of pesticides must be in good working order and be adapted to the type of work to be done.
  • A person applying pesticides must ensure that no person other than a person participating in the application is present on the application premises or is exposed to pesticides.
  • It is prohibited to apply, for agricultural purposes, a Class 3A pesticide or a Class 1 to Class 3 pesticide containing atrazine, chlorpyrifos, clothianidin, imidacloprid or thiamethoxam unless a justification signed by an agronomist has been obtained in advance.
  • Pesticides covered by an agronomic justification (PDF, 254 KB) are sold only to individuals who provide retail vendors with a valid prescription signed by an agronomist.
  • Farmers must maintain and keep a record of pesticides used for the work they perform or have performed, including information related to Class 3A pesticides.
  • Birdseed treated with an avicide and left for harmful birds must be placed in a feeder equipped with a device preventing the wind from carrying the seed away. In addition, the feeder must indicate the name of the avicide, the name, address and telephone number of the permit holder and the telephone number of Centre Anti-Poison du Québec.
  • A person who is to carry out a fumigation in a location where air is confined (e.g., buildings, trailers, cattle cars, grain elevators, silos, greenhouses, or under tarpaulins other than tarpaulins used on crops or on soil in fields) must first ensure that no animals or humans remain in the premises, to avoid their being exposed to the fumigant. Fumigation that releases gas may be carried out only if all openings have been sealed. In addition, the person must seal and post a sign on each entrance to the premises to be treated, prohibiting access before the specified dates.
  • The use of strychnine and DDT is prohibited.

Application by aircraft

Certain requirements apply to companies offering services involving the application of pesticides by aircraft. A person who intends to apply pesticides must, before any application, identify the limits of the application areas at ground level, indicating where applications are permitted and prohibited, unless a flight line guidance system is to be used for such purposes. In addition, the pilot or the person authorized to supervise the application from another aircraft must have a map or aerial photograph at hand showing the areas where pesticide applications are permitted and prohibited. The map or aerial photograph must cover a 300-metre strip around the pesticide application area.


Application distance requirements

In agricultural areas, application distances are prescribed for lakes, watercourses and ditches for applications of pesticides on the ground or by aircraft. These distances vary according to the dimensions of the watercourse or ditch in question:

  • watercourses or ditches where the total flow area (average width multiplied by average height) is greater than 2 m2;
  • watercourses or ditches where the total flow area is 2 m2 or less.
Note: The application distances from watercourses and ditches to be respected during ground applications of pesticides are the same as those required under the Regulation respecting agricultural activities.

In the case of aerial applications for agricultural purposes, a watercourse does not include an intermittent watercourse, and the application distances are greater for sections of a watercourse of more than four metres in width.

The relative distance from a lake or a watercourse is measured from the high water mark, and the relative distance from a ditch is measured from its edgeline

The high water mark

An easy way to establish the high water mark is to determine the place where there is a change from a predominance of aquatic plants to a predominance of terrestrial plants. Thus the high water mark corresponds to the place where nature itself has established this point of balance between aquatic and terrestrial vegetation.

The following table summarise the mandatory minimum distances in agricultural areas according to the premises where pesticide storage, preparation and application (on the ground or by aircraft) activities are carried out.

Note: If you are planning to apply pesticides in a forest area (e.g., a farm woodlot), please note that specific rules apply.


Did you know that you require an ministerial authorization from the Ministère in order to use pesticides in any aquatic environment with an aboveground outlet?

With this regulatory requirement, the Ministère ensures that measures will be taken to minimize risks, among them the risk of contamination occurring downstream from the pesticide application area.

If someone close to you becomes ill from pesticides

Guide the individual in question to a well-ventilated area and ask him/her to lie down on his/her side.

Then contact the Centre Anti-Poison du Québec, at 1-800-463-5060 (toll free emergency number, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or in the Québec City area (local call) at 418-656-8090, and follow their instructions to the letter. If the person’s condition appears serious, go to the hospital immediately, making sure to bring the label or the name and the registration number of the product in question.

For more information, please see Reference leaflet 10: Milieu agricole (PDF, 866 KB).

The information provided in this document is in no way meant to replace the full official text of the Pesticides Management Code.

Acting together to protect health, pollinators and the environment

Rate this page

As part of its 2019—2023 Strategic Plan, the Ministère wishes to improve access to information that is available on its website. Can we count on your co-operation by responding to a survey at the bottom of each page? This will enable us to evaluate how easy it was to find the information you were looking for.

Return to the top