Ohio pesticide applicators have until Nov. 23 to comment on a set of proposals from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to increase the requirements for the certification of pesticide applicators nationwide.

The proposed rules, if they were to go into effect as they are currently written, would impose significant changes to the process for both certification and recertification, said Mary Ann Rose, program director for Ohio State University Extension's Ohio Pesticide Safety Education Program.

OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

The Ohio Pesticide Safety Education Program provides training, education and outreach to pesticide applicators about the safe, effective and legal use of pesticides. The program works with farmers, businesses and public agencies to protect human health and the environment and serves as a critical part of job training and business growth in Ohio.

The proposed changes will impact individual states differently because the requirements for certification vary according to states, Rose said.

"For Ohio, the proposed changes would more than double the training time required for recertifying commercial pesticide applicators, and would triple the requirement for private applicators," Rose said. "Licensed applicators would still have the option of retesting instead of taking recertification training."

Other changes include:

• Requiring a minimum age of 18 for licensed pesticide applicators and trained service persons.

• Requiring annual training for trained service persons, who in Ohio may work under the direct supervision of licensed applicators without a license.

• Requiring applicators to present identification at both exams and recertification programs.

The changes are proposed as part of an effort by the EPA to make certification rules more uniform among the states, allowing applicators who work across state borders to more easily meet all certification requirements, she said.

"The proposed changes are also part of the EPA's strategy to increase the competency of pesticide applicators and reduce harmful pesticide exposure events," Rose said.

Comments on the proposed changes may be submitted to the EPA at www.regulations.gov in docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0183.

Rose said Ohio's pesticide applicators should take time to review the proposals and comment on the changes now if they wish their voices and opinions to be heard.

"It's important for the people who are directly impacted by these proposed rules to have a voice in the decision-making process," she said.