Every employer is responsible for protecting staff and all collection users from the hazards and risks associated with pest management activities. These pages identify hazards, mitigation strategies, and provide some examples of policy and procedure documents that can be adapted for your institutional needs.


Safety for Humans

Human safety depends upon the type of treatment; each solution has its own inherent risk.




· Injury from use of hot tools and sharp tools
· Electrical /hazards

Low temperature or high temperature

· Low temperature or high temperature
· Electrical hazards

Controlled atmosphere environments, including use of compressed gases and oxygen scavengers

· Exposure to oxygen depleted environments
· Heat generation
· Handling concerns for compressed gas cannisters
· Injury from use of hot tools and sharp tools
· Injury from heat generation
· Electrical hazards
· Confined space hazards

Fumigation with toxic gases


· Exposure to oxygen depleted environments
· Handling concerns for compressed gas cannisters
· Exposure to toxic chemicals
· Injury from use of hot tools and sharp tools
· Confined space hazards

Pesticide Treatment of Collection areas

· Handling and exposure to chemicals in liquid, aerosol, powder form
· All hazards listed in labeled information

Insect Growth Regulators, in collection areas or for subterranean termites

· Handling and exposure to chemicals in liquid, aerosol, powder form
· All hazards listed in labeled information


· Handling of blunder traps/insect monitors and mechanical traps for vertebrates
· Exposure to diseased vertebrates or their residues

Pesticide residues

· Exposure to toxic chemicals
· Risks are known for historically applied pesticides



Risk Mitigation 

Always consult and collaborate with your institutional operations/facilities management and health and safety professionals as you embark on a pest management solution. Note, that in the US and other countries, some solutions require individuals applying these treatments to follow very specific regulatory guidelines and restrictions. If you are using a chemical solution or treatment procedure that requires licensing or certification, be sure to contract and communicate with a pest management professional. These laws and regulations are set up to ensure human health.

Commercial pest management manufacturers are required by law to provide protocols for all pesticides for sale in the US. All pesticide products registered in the US are required to be properly labeled, with information specifying target pests, dose, application details, toxicity, and other details. Use of registered products is restricted by law; see the Regulatory Information section of this page for information about US national resources on pesticide risks and uses.

  • Products labeled as “Restricted Use” can only be used by licensed pest control operators and pest management professionals.
  • Products that are unrestricted are widely available and generally have lower toxicity but review of the label information is prudent.

For all pesticide use, protocols and measures must planned and established to protect both the operator and the environment. Each state has its own licensing requirements for pest management; these programs provide education and testing for safe use of pesticide products in a wide variety of situations. In addition, many resources are available to guide your safe implementation of solutions to active pest problems.  

When items are handled prior to treatment using any of the solutions documented in the chart above, museum staff should be aware that historically, many organic and inorganic pesticides now known to be toxic to humans have been used for the protection of collections. While inorganic pesticides such as arsenic and mercuric chloride are no longer used in museums, they may remain on collections treated in the mid-twentieth century or prior. For example, organic pesticides like naphthalene may have been applied to collections more recently and have potential to become volatile, particularly at elevated temperatures and humidity. Collections care staff have reported dizziness and irritation immediately following acute exposure to collections treated with naphthalene, and chronic effects such as inflammation of the lungs are also a possibility. Sources for information on pesticide residues can be found on the AIC Wiki.

The AIC Wiki is a good starting point for basic health and safety information for museum professionals.

  • See Personal Protective Equipment
  • Chemical Safety
  • Recognizing the hazards associated with your collection items
  • Workplace Safety
  • Regulatory Compliance  

Collections care staff should take caution when handling collections, particularly those composed of organic materials as they may have been treated with pesticides, and be aware that exposure can occur through inhalation, ingestion, or dermal contact.

Applying each Solution requires a specific set of risk mitigation techniques. Refer to the specific JHA for on each solution page.

Safety for Collections

Monitoring programs improve the safety of collections through data gathering and analysis, and when properly implemented, can identify threats before collections are damaged. Ensure that all institutional stakeholders are aware of trap/insect monitors placement, so that traps/insect monitors do not get inadvertently stepped on, kicked, or removed. Lost traps/insect monitors result in lost data, and this reduces the effectiveness of your program. Stakeholders can include a wide range of museum professionals, such as facilities staff, IT staff, and collections staff.

Hazards for Collections:

Collection hazards when monitoring are generally related to trap/insect monitors placement, collection damage due to handling, and materials choice.


  • Monitoring for rodents and/or other vertebrate pests using poisons, even if allowed in your municipality, is not recommended in a collection setting because the poisoned creature can die in hidden crevices/walls/pipes causing further problems and providing food for a host of other pests.
  • Follow appropriate protocols for removal of pest residues such as expired pests, urine trails, or rodent smear/rub marks, because their presence will increase the likelihood of future infestations.
  • Always consult with a licensed certified pest manager for any questions relating to chemical components of products used for pest residue clean-up, pheromone, or poison baits.


  • Blunder traps/insect monitors are of minimal risk for collection items, so long as care is taken to place the traps/insect monitors a safe distance from all collection items (so that the adhesive does not inadvertently come into contact with the art/artifact or housing materials).
  • Pheromone lures, unlike blunder traps/insect monitor which are passive in their collecting method, attract insects towards the traps/insect monitors. Consider their placement carefully to avoid drawing insects into your collection area.
  • Vertebrate traps should always be placed in an area near point of suspected ingress to discourage potential damage to collections. Ingress areas can include a wide range of building openings, such as conduit, ceiling pipe runs, and other small openings.


Regulatory Information

To protect human health and the environment, most nations regulate pest management through development, assessment, use, and evaluation of pesticides. Regulatory control can take the form of complex laws, statutes and regulations that guide who can apply pest control, how it is applied, what species it is meant to eliminate, and what amount can be used. For more information, see the Regulations page under the Solutions tab.

These pages provide an overview of regulatory control based on the United States format, with recognition that different regulatory structures occur in other countries. In the United States, pesticides (fungicides, insecticides, rodenticides, and fumigants) are regulated by national and state laws, and some municipalities have their own requirements.

Tracking and tracing federal regulations and laws can be complex. The following information is designed to provide you with a framework of where and how to find information:

  • Discussion and legal interpretation about Federal Code: Further information about federal bills and legislative history in a series of publicly available resources can be found in the Congressional Record, pertaining to specific legislations or actions relating pest control and specific chemical use. A variety of these resources can be searched using Proquest Congressional, a gateway allowing access to congressional publications and legislative research.
  • Regulations upheld by federal agencies (arms of the executive branch of the federal government) set the standards for these overarching laws (Federal Code). Information available from specific agencies, such as the Departments of Commerce, Defense, and State, publish information in separate venues. The EPA falls under this category; its broad mission means that you may need to consult publications available from other organizations such as the Department of Agriculture, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and state and local government agencies.
  • State and Local Governments complies with federal laws (following laws and statutes enacted by Congress) and can also create and administer their own laws and regulations. The laws and regulations pertaining to insects, bioremediation, and pesticides cross a broad range of interests and jurisdictions.

Each state has its own pesticide division which may also be closely associated with the individual state’s Department of Natural Resources and/or Agriculture, or Environmental Health. These agencies:

  • certify and conduct examinations
  • issue licenses
  • review pest practices
  • interpret regulations
  • issue citations and fines
  • recommend civil and criminal prosecution

A pest control license and specific prerequisites are required by states for pesticide use, teaching, training, bioremediation, and/or any pest control activities. Note that state requirements may be broad or activity specific and may not be applicable to cultural heritage materials.

  • Local statutes and regulations are community-based but are usually informed by state requirements (such as a requirement to let local community members know about pesticide applications). Many communities rely on their local Agricultural Extension Offices as a resource for providing information to residents.
  • Labeling Requirements for specific products are regulated by the EPA; in the US, any product used for pest control must be licensed and labeled. Labels include all aspects of chemical (or product) formulation, targeted pests, directions for use, health and safety information, and storage and disposal specifications.
  • Specific Product information can be found at the National Pesticide Registry: http://npic.orst.edu/. This site informs the user about any products labeled/restricted/ in general use. The site can also be used to compare products.

Legality of Chemical Use for Pesticides

In the United States, chemicals are categorized by the EPA as restricted, minimum risk, or inert ingredient, in addition to label requirements.

Job Hazard Analyses (JHAs)

Check back soon

Translate »