Pesticide Awareness Week – Safety Tips

Byron-Duff-applying-pestici

The Pesticides Control Authority (PCA), Ministry of Health, observes Pesticides Awareness Week each year to promote pesticide safety among users. It is a Caribbean-wide event under the auspices of the Coordinating Group of Pesticide Control Boards of the Caribbean (CGPC), with the theme being decided each year at the annual meeting of the CGPC.

The theme chosen for 2014 is ‘Pesticides: Buy as required, use before expired.’

Below are some tips for using and storing pesticides in the safest manner:

  • Always read the label first and follow the directions to the letter, including all precautions and restrictions.
  • Don’t use products for pests that are not indicated on the label and don’t use more pesticide than directed by the label.
  • Use protective measures when handling pesticides as directed by the label, such as wearing impermeable gloves, long pants, and long-sleeve shirts. Change clothes and wash your hands immediately after applying pesticides.
  • Before applying a pesticide (indoors or outdoors), remove children, their toys, and pets from the area and keep them away until the pesticide has dried or as recommended by the label.
  • Don’t spray outdoors on windy or rainy days. Take precautions to keep the pesticide from drifting or running off into the vegetable garden, pool, or neighbor’s yard.
  • Remove or cover food during indoor applications.
  • Do not store pesticides in drink bottles, as someone who is unaware – like children, might consume it accidentally.
  • Don’t buy more pesticides than you will need. Lengthy storage can be a risk to health and the environment for the following reasons:
    • It can result in the deterioration of the container and lead to leakage, contaminating the surroundings or even the person handling the container.
    • There is more time for accidents to occur, including mistaking the contents due to the deterioration and loss of the label; improper use or disposal could result.
    • The pesticides’ active ingredients will break down over time, and, therefore, will be less effective in killing the pests. The user may decide (wrongly) to over-apply the product in order to achieve the required kill, resulting in greater contamination of the treated area. It must be noted that some active ingredients break down to products that are more toxic than the original and, therefore, pose more risk.
    • Follow label directions and any state or local regulations regarding disposal.

Agriculture-specific tips

  • Use pesticide for recommended crop and pest only.
  • Follow mixing and dosage instruction closely.
  • Do not re-enter field before recommended time.
  • After pesticide application, do not harvest ahead of the recommended time.
  • Again, follow all storage and disposal instructions.

Information from the US Environmental Protection Agency and the PCA. See also a list of prohibited pesticides. For additional information, call the Poison Centre at 1888- POISONS or 1888-764-7667.