There are many hazards when working or playing in the garden – tumbling rocks, falling limbs, and nasty bug bits. For all of these problems there are some common actions to take in order to prevent a catastrophe. This is also true when using pesticides. Following a few common sense rules will save a lot of grief in the future.
There are two categories of potential ailments when spraying pesticides: 1) Acute – these occur right away, like nausea, headache, and rashes. 2) Chronic- these will manifest themselves much later, like cancer and neurological disorders. Pesticides always need to be treated with respect. Here are some good rules to follow:
· Make sure the pest is properly identified and choose an appropriate pesticide that is labeled for that pest on that specific plant. Consider other control measures first before resorting to pesticides. See my article entitled Integrated Pest Management – A New Approach, under the ‘pest management’ label.
· Read the entire label. It’s the best source of information about that product.
· Time your treatments to catch the pest at its most vulnerable stage.
· Spot treat whenever possible, rather than spraying the entire garden.
· The label on the pesticide container is a legal document. Follow all directions exactly.
· Don’t smoke, eat or drink when handling pesticides.
· Follow label directions for wearing protective gear when mixing and applying pesticides - rubber gloves, safety glasses, respirator, long sleeved shirt, long pants or coveralls and closed shoes.
· Mix up the smallest quantity that will do the job and use it up. Many mixed pesticides quickly loose their potency.
· Never use kitchen utensils for mixing pesticides. Use a dedicated set of spoons, cups, etc. for mixing pesticides, and label them as such.
· Always store pesticides in their original containers, in a cool, dark and dry place outside the house and out of the reach of children and pets. A locking cupboard in the garage or storage shed is ideal.
· Never remove labels or transfer pesticides to other containers.
· After applying pesticides, take a shower and put on clean clothes.
· Teach children that pesticides are poisons that should not be touched or consumed.