Neighbor Notification Law Fact Sheet

Questions and Answers about the New York State Neighbor Notification Law

  1. Why did I receive notice of a pesticide application?
    • You most likely received notice because your neighbor is having a commercial lawn application of a pesticide to their property, and you reside in a county that has adopted the New York State Neighbor Notification Law. To find out whether a county has adopted the law, you can either visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) website listed at the end of Question 9 of this document, or contact the county government offices. The Neighbor Notification Law became effective on March 1, 2001, and requires that neighbors who reside in a New York State county that has opted into the law be informed, depending on the type of dwelling, 24 to 48 hours in advance of a pesticide application to an abutting property. The advanced notification is intended to provide neighbors time to take measures that may reduce their risk of exposure, if any, to the pesticides being applied if they so choose.
  2. What is a pesticide?
    • Pesticides are synthetic or naturally occurring substances used to kill or control pests such as insects, weeds, bacteria, fungi, and rodents. Repellents and growth regulators are also considered pesticides. Pesticide products often contain both "active" and "inert" ingredients. The chemical names of the "active" ingredients are identified on the label. As the name implies, "active" ingredients within the pesticide product are those materials that kill or control the target pest. "Inert" ingredients do not act directly on the target pest. They serve other functions such as helping to spread the active ingredient or making the active ingredient more effective. Both "active" and "inert" ingredients may have toxic properties.
  3. Does the Neighbor Notification Law require prior notice for all commercial pesticide applications?
    • No, certain commercial lawn pesticide applications are exempt from prior notice. Such exemptions include granular pesticide products and certain types of horticultural soaps or oils. The Neighbor Notification Law applies only to outdoor applications to ground, trees or shrubs. Fertilizers, when not combined with pesticides, are not regulated as pesticides and therefore not subject to notification.
  4. Do these pesticide applications pose health risks?
    • Pesticides generally have some toxic potential, so no pesticide should be considered as absolutely risk-free. Risk is a combination of the toxicity of a pesticide and one's exposure to that pesticide. The toxicity of a pesticide (active and inert ingredients) is determined by its chemical nature and how it works. Exposure is determined by how much of the pesticide you come in contact with and for how long. If there is no exposure to a pesticide, there is no risk of adverse health effects regardless of the pesticide's toxicity. Properly applied lawn pesticides should pose minimal risks to those on neighboring properties because exposure, if any, to these individuals is expected to be minimal.
  5. Are some people more at risk from pesticide exposure?
    • People react differently to chemicals and some people may be particularly sensitive to one or more of the chemicals in certain pesticides. Uncontrollable factors, like a person's age, sex, genetic makeup, and/or general health condition, may impact his/her potential for experiencing health effects from exposure to a pesticide. When practical, children and pregnant women should take particular care to avoid exposures to pesticides and any other chemicals. Children's behavior, for example hand to mouth activity, could lead to greater exposures if the child is playing in an area where a pesticide application has occurred.
  6. What is pesticide spray drift?
    • Properly applied pesticides are not supposed to carry over to neighboring properties. However, for spray applications, there is always the potential that some of the pesticide could reach a bordering property. This movement of the pesticide through air at the time of application to unintended areas is called spray drift. Besides the physical characteristics of the pesticide being sprayed, a number of factors can influence the potential drift of a pesticide including wind conditions, application method (for example whether a pesticide is sprayed into trees or onto the ground), and the landscape of the area being sprayed.

      Some pesticides contain chemicals with strong odors. In some cases these chemicals may be petroleum based, similar to paint thinner or kerosene, and can evaporate during and after use. However, any such odors should disappear after a short time depending on wind conditions, temperature, and the pesticide being applied.

  7. How can I reduce my potential for exposure?
    • If you feel that it is necessary and wish to reduce your potential for exposure, there are a few basic steps you can take as precautions before, during and after spraying, regardless of the specific pesticide being used.
      • If possible, remain inside or avoid the area near your neighbor's whenever spraying takes place and for a short time afterwards. This will reduce the likelihood of your breathing pesticides in air if any drift occurs. Once the spray has dried and any vapor has gone away, your likelihood of exposure to the pesticide should be greatly reduced.
      • Consider closing windows and doors and turning off window air conditioning units or close their vents to circulate indoor air before spraying begins and keep closed until about 30 minutes after spraying.
      • Consider bringing laundry, pet dishes, and small toys inside before spraying occurs.
      • If possible, move or cover lawn furniture and play equipment that are near the neighboring property before spraying begins.
  8. When can I use my yard again?
    • You may choose to stay off your lawn until the application is complete. If any drift has occurred, residues may be present on some outdoor surfaces (e.g., areas near the neighbor's property) after spraying and should be avoided until the spray has dried or according to label requirements, which may be obtained from the National Pesticide Information Center at 1-800-858-7378.
  9. Does the Neighbor Notification Law require residents to do anything when they apply pesticides on their own property?
    • Yes, individuals who make residential lawn applications of pesticides to more than 100 square feet of property they own, lease, or rent must post visual notification markers around the pesticide application site. This is only required in the counties that have adopted the Neighbor Notification Law that relates to lawn applications. More information regarding homeowner and business compliance with the Neighbor Notification Law can be found in guidance documents developed by DEC. These documents can be found at the following website: http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/8529.html.
  10. Where can I get more information?
    • The pesticide label will provide specific information regarding warnings and use restrictions about the pesticide being applied. The pesticide applicator is bound by law to follow all directions written on the pesticide label. The label should be available from the pesticide applicator, or it can be accessed from the NYS Pesticide Product, Ingredient, and Manufacturer System (PIMS), maintained by the Cornell University/ Pesticide Management Education Program and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) at: http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/pims/

      Additional information regarding reducing your exposure to pesticides can be found at the following web addresses:

You may also wish to call the New York State Department of Health, Center for Environmental Health at 518-402-7530 or 1-800-458-1158.