Pesticide Use

Pesticides have a long history of use in Alberta. In the 1920s, lead arsenate and sodium arsenite were used for grasshopper control. Early pesticides were mixtures of toxic compounds such as arsenic, mercury, copper, nicotine and sulfur. In the mid-1940s, organic chemicals were extremely effective in controlling pests, but sometimes harmed the environment in other, persistent ways. Most of these chemicals have been phased out and replaced with products less toxic and more favourable to the environment. The federal government ensures that pesticides registered for use in Canada are safe to use when applied according to the pesticide label.

Currently, over 7.5 million kg of pesticides are sold in Alberta each year.

Challenges related to pesticide use

Monitoring by several agencies in Alberta has found evidence of surface and groundwater contamination by pesticides. Other work has found pesticides in rainfall and air, suggesting that links between pesticide usage and water contamination must consider how pesticides are transported.

Several Canadian municipalities have implemented urban pesticide use restrictions. Alberta's focus is on Integrated Pest Management programs, and more judicious commercial and residential use.


Federal government regulates the products available for use. The provincial government regulates sale, use, application, storage and transportation in Alberta. It also carries out most of the environmental monitoring.


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Updated: Feb 4, 2015