Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Reminder for Safe Pesticide Practices

It is always important to remind ourselves of proper safety when mixing and applying pesticides. Always keep in mind that just because a chemical may seem like a safe material, when concentrated it will not necessarily be safe or less toxic to humans or other animals! We must do our part to protect ourselves and our environment by reading and following the pesticide label directions!
Personal protection equipment depends on the job and the pesticide label, but some good suggestions are to wear a long sleeved shirt, long pants, waterproof gloves, a wide brimmed hat, waterproof boots, an approved respirator with the right cartridge when mixing dust or wettable powders and safety goggles when applying pesticides.
When mixing pesticides, weigh the material carefully, fill the tank with water until half full, and then add the concentrate while water is swirling. Remember to stand above the fill hole to prevent splashing onto face or eyes. After application, rinse the container three times and pour rinses into a mixing tank.
For application, wait until the pesticide needs to be applied, then read the entire label, and wear full coverage protection required by the label. DO NOT attempt to spray when there are gusting or heavy winds, if rainfall is imminent within 6 hours of spraying or if you are feeling angry and frustrated. Also do not smoke, eat or drink while applying any pesticides.
For pesticide disposal, buy only the amount of pesticide you need for the season. It is important to try to only mix the amount of material needed for the treatment. If there is too much, then apply excess material to labeled site or border row. The improper disposal of pesticide containers can lead to ground water contamination. To prevent ground water contamination, use returnable containers and take them back to the dealer when empty. If non-returnable containers are used, then triple-rinse the containers immediately after use (residue can be difficult to remove after it dries) and pour it into the spray tank. Puncture non-returnable containers and store them in a covered area until they can be taken to a container recycling program or a permitted landfill. Contact the Ag Container Recycling Council at http://www.acrecycle.org for more on a recycling program. If bags are used, shake them out, bind or wrap them to minimize dust, and then take them to a permitted landfill.
In case of spill, remove contaminated clothing and wash chemical from skin with soap and water. Launder contaminated clothing separately from other clothing. Follow recommended cleanup and sanitization procedures printed on the pesticide label. Contain spill with containment soil, soda, or absorbent materials. Use cat litter, clay sawdust, soda ash or absorbent cleaning compound to soak up excess pesticide. Always have someone with you as you apply pesticides, in case of an accident. If symptoms of poisoning arise, seek medical help and take the pesticide label or container with you to the hospital.

Photo of proper safety equipment. Photo by: Bart Drees, Professor and Extension Entomologist, Texas A&M University.

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