What are pesticides?
According to the Department of Agriculture, “Pesticides are natural or synthetic chemicals that kill, attract, repel, or otherwise control the growth of pest plants, animals, and microorganisms.” Basically, pesticides are bug and weed killers. They are all toxic, but the amount that is needed to cause an effect varies greatly. Some are toxic to people, pets or wildlife in amounts as small as a tablespoon where others may take gallons. Concentrated products that are designed to be mixed with water before application are usually more toxic than ready-to-use products that are applied without any mixing.
How do you use these products safely?
1) The best way to avoid the hazards of pesticides is to not use them. Visit our Common Sense Gardening web page for gardening and lawn care guides or (360) 867-2674.
2) Research what will most effectively solve your pest problem. A helpful guide to aid in the selection of pesticide products that are rated low hazards can be found in the Grow Smart Grow Safe guide.
3) Read the directions before you buy it.
Before you purchase a pesticide, read the directions and precautionary statement. Be certain that you are willing, able, and comfortable handling and using the product. And purchase only the amount you need. The less hazardous products you have stored around your home, the less likely your family and pets are exposed to them.
4) Re-read the directions each time you use it and follow them.
All pesticide products contain directions that describe how they should be applied and precautions about potentially hazardous situations. If there is a known hazard, there will be a direction to avoid the hazard. For example, corrosive liquids may require the applicator (that’s YOU) to avoid skin contact by wearing gloves, clothing to cover skin, glasses and/or goggles.
Here is an example of a precautionary statement from a potentially corrosive moss control product:
WARNING: Causes substantial but temporary eye injury. Causes skin irritation. Do not get in eyes, on skin or on clothing. Wear protective eyewear (goggles, face shield or safety glasses). Wash thoroughly with soap and water after handling. Remove contaminated clothing and wash before reuse.
Here is an example of a precautionary statement from a potentially toxic fungus control product:
CAUTION: Harmful if swallowed or absorbed through skin or inhaled. Causes moderate eye irritation. Avoid contact with eyes, skin or clothing. Avoid breathing spray mist. Prolonged or frequently repeated skin contact may cause allergic reaction in some individuals.
General Precautions and Restrictions: Do not allow people or pets to enter treated areas until sprays have dried. Do not apply this product in a way that will contact other persons or pets, either directly or through drift.
The second label warns the applicator to avoid contact with eyes, skin or clothing – it does not specifically tell the user how to avoid contact (use of gloves, goggles, waterproof clothing).
5) Dispose of unused, unwanted pesticides properly – take them to HazoHouse to be disposed of properly for free. HazoHouse is a household hazardous waste disposal location at the Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center (formerly the landfill). Disposing of hazardous products safely keeps them from polluting our water ways, makes sure that kids or pets don’t accidentally get into them and is free and easy!