Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Safe Handling of Pesticides

Whether you have a small herb garden on your apartment balcony, raised beds in your front yard, or a spacious backyard garden, you may have uninvited and unwanted pests visiting your garden. Most critters that pass through or live in your garden are beneficial or do little to no harm to you or your plants. However, there are some pests that can be harmful to your garden. There are many ways to combat pests without using harmful pesticides (visit our Common Sense Gardening page!), but if you choose to use them, there are steps you can take to safely handle pesticides.

Pesticides are natural or synthetic chemicals that kill, attract, repel, or control the growth of pest plants (like weeds), animals and microorganisms. Most people use pesticides with the purpose to kill bugs and weeds protruding their lawn or garden. Pesticides are all toxic to some degree, however the amount needed to cause an effect varies greatly. Some are toxic to people, pets or wildlife in amounts as small a tablespoon! But some may take gallons to have the same level of toxicity. 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.

So, how do you use these products safely?
  1. Do your homework! Research what method will solve your pest problem. A helpful resource to assist in the selection of pesticide products is the Grow Smart Grow Safe guide. This guide rates pesticides from the lowest-to-highest hazard. There are many low hazard options for a variety of pest problems.
  2. Read the directions before you buy! Before you purchase a pesticide, read the directions and precautionary statements. Be confident that you are willing, able, and comfortable handling and using the product. Purchase only the amount you need. The less hazardous products you have stored in your home, the less likely your family and pets will be exposed to them. When transporting pesticides home from the store, be sure to bag pesticides separately from groceries and place in the trunk of your car, away from people and groceries.
  3. Follow the directions. All pesticide products contain directions that describe how they should be applied along with the precautions you should take while applying them. If a hazard is stated, be sure to take necessary precaution to avoid the hazard. For example, corrosive liquids may require you to avoid skin contact by wearing gloves, additional clothing to cover skin, glasses and/or goggles.
    1. Example of a precautionary statement:
    2. 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.
      The next label warns to avoid contact with eyes, skin or clothing, but it does not specifically tell the user how to avoid contact (such as the use of gloves, goggles or waterproof clothing).
      General Precaution 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.

  4. Dispose properly. You safely applied a pesticide product and are free of slugs eating your precious plants, success! But, you have some leftover pesticide product. It is important to safely dispose of pesticide. Leaving unused pesticides in your home is dangerous, especially if you have small children or pets that could be harmfully exposed. It also reduces pesticides from polluting our water ways.

Lucky for you, we have the HazoHouse in Thurston County!

HazoHouse is a household hazardous 
waste disposal location that is a free resource for Thurston County residents. It is located at the Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center in Lacey, WA. They accept pesticides, along with motor oil, cleaning supplies, products containing mercury and more.

If you have additional questions about pesticide use and common sense gardening, please visit our website or call (360) 867-2674.

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