Best Management Practices for Handling Pesticides in
the Home Landscape
A pesticide is any substance intended for preventing, destroying or repelling
any pests, such as insects, rodents, diseases or weeds. Their active ingredients
vary, but they all contain one or more chemicals that control the pest.
|Some pesticides are referred to by their chemical names, while others
are called by their more familiar brand names. One of the most important
things you can do before using a pesticide is to read the label.
The label contains useful information that tells you the active ingredient
any the amount of it contained in that pesticide. It also tells you
how to properly apply the pesticide and how to protect yourself, others,
and the environment in the process.
Follow these guidelines for successful handling of pesticides:
- Know what problem needs to be controlled and its
best possible solution before purchasing a pesticide.
- Know what active ingredient is effective for controlling
- Be sure you don't already have the product on hand
before purchasing a pesticide.
- To prevent problems of storage and disposal, purchase
only what you will need to do the job. Don't purchase a large
container just to be economical.
- Read the label paying close attention to
- The active ingredient.
- Proper mixing and application.
- Protective measures (clothing: long pants, long sleeves,
gloves, goggles, etc.) to keep pesticides from entering your body
through your eyes, mouth, skin or lungs.
- The proper number of days to wait before harvesting
produce. This is the time that must pass before it is safe to consume
the crop treated with the pesticide. On the label it is called "days
to harvest" or "harvest interval."
- Signal words
- First aid measures to be taken in case of an accident.
- Code numbers (four numbers usually printed close to
the manufacturer's name and address) in case you need to identify
- Proper storage and disposal.
- Know that you, as the pesticide user, are legally
responsible for following all the directions on the label.
- Use only the recommended amount. "If a little
is good, more is better," is not true!!
- When necessary, calibrate the application equipment to
ensure proper application rate. You can get more information on calibration
from your local Cooperative Extension Service Office.
- Be careful that the pesticide goes only where it is needed.
Do not spray pesticides
on sidewalks, streets or driveways. Runoff can contaminate surface water.
Do not spray overhead unless
properly protected. Drift and skin contact can be hazardous.
Do not spray a pesticide
before it rains. The chemical could be washed off and into surface water.
One exception is to spray a fungicide before it rains as long as it has
time to dry on the plant.
Do not dump excess pesticide
in one location. Concentration from dumping in one location can contaminate
Do not dump excess pesticide
down a drain. This will contaminate surface water at the water treatment
plant. If you have excess pesticide left over after treatment, you can
reapply most pesticides to the target crop plant to dispose of it. However,
this is not true of pre-emergence herbicides.
Once you have finished using the pesticide, you need to properly store
and dispose of any leftover chemicals.
- Write the purchase date on the label and cover the
label with clear tape to protect from water or sunlight.
- Always store pesticides in their original containers,
out of reach of children and in a locked cabinet.
- Store them in a place that remains cool in the summer
and warm in the winter. Storage in extremely hot places could
cause an explosion. Allowing a pesticide to freeze could render
the chemical ineffective, particularly liquid formulations.
- Powder formulations should be kept dry to prevent
chemical reactions that alter the active ingredients.
- Dispose of unused pesticides properly, according
to the label and local landfill specifications. Consult your county
Cooperative Extension Service for more information.
- Dispose of empty containers first by triple rinsing,
pouring the rinse water back in the applicator for use. Then wrap
the container securely in newspaper before placing in the refuse
- Do not save excess diluted pesticide in spray container
until next application period in order to prevent pesticide breakdown
and inactivity, and sprayer clogging.
- Clean sprayer out after application.
How You Can Help Reduce the Use of Pesticides
The concept of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) originated in the 1960s.
The focus of IPM is to use a variety of ways to manage pests, and not
always with chemicals. This may include using horticulture practices that
discourage pests and encourage beneficial predators and parasites. IPM
also stresses correct identification of pests, which helps users determine
the best timing of pesticide applications based on the pest's life cycle.
The use of chemicals can also be reduced through the IPM tactic of determining
how much pest damage a plant can handle before control is necessary.
Developed by Mary Ann Madauss, Master Gardener and
Annette Meyer, Daviess County Extension Agent for Horticulture
Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension
Service serve all people
regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national
Scoutcat logo courtesy of C. Ware, copyright 2000