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Applying acephate

Approved handler

You must be an approved handler or be under the direct supervision of an approved handler to handle any insecticide containing acephate.

Application amount and frequency

From 1 July 2015, acephate products can be applied at a maximum rate of 3,500 g of acephate per hectare and no more than three times per crop cycle.

Don't enter the treated area for 24 hours

The new rules prohibit people entering the area where acephate has been applied for 24 hours unless they are wearing full personal protective and respiratory protective equipment. This period of time is sometimes called a restricted entry interval (REI) and is to protect peoples' health from any acephate still present on plants or in the air.

The 24 hour time period starts when the application is complete and, if applied indoors, the ventilation system is switched on.

If acephate was applied indoors you can only enter the building within that 24 hour period to carry out tasks associated with ventilation.

Outdoor application

Applying acephate outdoors has the potential to affect people and places outside of your property. To manage the potential risk to others, there are a number of new rules that you must follow.

Notification requirements

Before using wide-dispersive methods such as a boom sprayer or aerial application, you must notify anyone that could potentially be affected. People affected could include occupiers and owners of land, homes or property that share a boundary with the property where you are applying the product.

You must notify people in writing at least two working days before each application but no earlier than four weeks prior to applying acephate.

The notification must include the following information:

  • where the substance will be applied
  • the date and approximate duration of each application
  • how to avoid exposure (for example, closing windows and doors, staying indoors during application and bringing laundry indoors)
  • the name of the organisation(s) undertaking the application
  • contact details for the person in charge of the application (phone, email or postal address, including a contact number for immediate contact during application).

Avoiding spray drift

When applying acephate outdoors you must take all practical steps to avoid spray drifting onto neighbouring properties and sensitive areas. Sensitive areas might be places where people are present or where native animals and plants are found.

Taking practical steps is particularly important when you apply acephate using wide-dispersive methods such as by aerial application or boom sprayer.

Record how you reduce spray drift

You also need to record the measures you have taken to reduce spray drift when applying acephate containing products. You can include this information in your spray diary.

Your record must include:

  • The name of the substance
  • The date and time of each application
  • The classification(s) of the substance
  • The amount of the substance applied
  • The location the substance was applied
  • If the substance is applied to or discharged into the air, a description of the wind speed and direction when the application took place
  • The name of the user of the substance and the user's address
  • Details of measures taken to ensure that there is no harm caused to neighbouring properties or sensitive areas.

These records must be kept for at least three years after applying acephate.

Indoor application

Buildings or structures, such as greenhouses or pack houses that house crops, are closed environments where natural ventilation is limited. Because of this limited ventilation, specific rules apply to the use of acephate indoors.

Use automatic equipment for indoor application

The new rules prohibit anyone from manually applying acephate indoors. Only automatic equipment like remote operated fogging equipment or a spray robot can be used to apply acephate indoors.


The person in charge of the building where acephate is being applied, along with the person in charge of the application, must ensure that signs are put up at each entry point to the building. This rule makes sure other people in the area know when it is safe to re-enter the building.

The signs must be in place from the beginning of the application until the end of the 24 hour period when people are prohibited from entering the building. Signs must be in English, be clear, easily understood and readable from a distance of at least ten metres. They must state:

  • that application of a substance toxic to humans is being carried out
  • that entry into the application area is not permitted unless PPE and RPE are worn.

Signs must also:

  • identify the person in charge of the application
  • state the date on which the application began
  • state the time and date when it is safe to re-enter the building.

You must remove the signs within three days of the end of the REI.

Source: EPA, 2013. Safely using insecticides containing acephate on plants EPA0291

Acephate is an organophosphate that is an active ingredient in some insecticides to control psyllid, leafroller, mealy bug and other pests. However, acephate is toxic to both people and the environment.

You should only use acephate if there are no safer alternatives and as part of an integrated pest management system (IPM).

The product label of insecticides will list the active ingredients. Check the label to see if acephate is one of the actives. If it is, you need to follow the practices outlined in this document.

Insecticides that are known to contain acephate include:

  • Raider
  • Lancer 750DF
  • Othene WSG.

Protect your health

You need to take extra care when using acephate so that you are exposed to as little of the product as possible.

  • While using the product you must wear the right safety gear – this is explained in more detail under the heading Wear the right safety gear.
  • After using acephate you must wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before eating, drinking, chewing gum, smoking or using the toilet. If you don't, you will end up consuming some of the insecticide, which can cause longterm health problems.
  • Once you have finished using acephate for the day remove the clothes you were working in, have a shower or bath with soap and water, shampoo your hair, and put on clean clothes.
  • Wash your work clothes separately from other clothes before wearing them again.

Wear the right safety gear

Because of the toxicity of acephate you must wear the right safety gear to protect your health.

If you are an employer, you must provide your staff with this gear and train them to wear it properly.

The new rules specify that full personal protective equipment (PPE) and respiratory protective equipment (RPE) (see box below) must be worn when mixing, loading or applying acephate.

The product label and safety data sheet will give you information about what PPE and RPE you must wear when handling the product. If you can't find this information, call the supplier of the product or contact the Health and Safety Group at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment during business hours on 0800 20 90 20.

Protect yourself – with full PPE

When using acephate you must wear:

  • chemical resistant coveralls
  • chemical resistant gloves
  • chemical resistant footwear plus socks
  • protective eyewear
  • chemical resistant headgear.

and RPE

  • You must also wear appropriate respiratory protective equipment to protect against breathing in the substance in dust, mist, gas or vapour forms.

After wearing PPE make sure you clean it according to the manufacturer's instructions before you, or anyone else, wears it again.

If the insecticide label offers specific instructions on how to clean the PPE, follow those instructions.

If there are no instructions available you should wash the PPE in detergent and hot water. The person washing the PPE should wear gloves when handling it.

Always have a safety data sheet (SDS) available for your products. Information about what to do in the event of a poisoning is usually given in Section 4 of the SDS.

Monitor your health

Wearing personal protective equipment does not eliminate exposure to a hazardous substance. If you are an employer and your staff are using organophosphates, such as acephate, you are required under the Health and Safety in Employment (HSE) Act to monitor your staffs' exposure to organophosphates and, with their informed consent, monitor their health.

This monitoring is usually done by a health service provider such as an occupational health nurse or general practitioner with a qualification in occupational health.

For further information on how to set up a monitoring regime see the information sheet Organophosphates: health effects, monitoring and first aid on the website

Acephate is toxic to the environment

Acephate is toxic to the environment, especially to insects, birds, fish and other aquatic creatures.

You must not apply acephate into or onto water

Protect bees

Acephate is toxic to bees. You must not spray acephate where bees are foraging or onto any flowering plants, including weeds.

Bees are generally not active in the early morning or late evening. Spraying at these times will reduce the chance that bees come into contact with acephate.

If you choose to spray early in the morning, make sure there is time for the spray to dry before bees become active.