Pesticides come in a variety of formulations with many different ingredients. They are used in our homes, in our workplaces and in our communities. Households with young children need to be particularly careful about using pesticides correctly. Proper use of pesticides is essential so that we can enjoy the benefits of these products while limiting the dangers of their use.

Pesticide exposure can occur through contact with the skin, by inhalation (breathing), or by ingestion (swallowing). Poisoning from these chemicals can happen immediately or over time from repeated exposures.  Symptoms of poisoning from commonly used pesticides can include skin, eye and lung irritation, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, salivation, muscle weakness, tremors and/or seizures. When Buying Pesticides:

  • Choose the right pesticide for the job.
  • Buy and use only legally sold, EPA-registered pesticides. Never use pesticide products that are not specifically approved for what you intend to use them for.
  • Never use pesticides from workplaces or commercial sites. Concentrated products that are made for commercial use are not safe for home use and can present a major poisoning risk if a child or animal gets into them.
  • Ask the place of sale to provide you with a MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for the product. The MSDS can discuss the risks associated with a particular product, the precautions to use and give other helpful information. Federal law requires retailers to have the sheets available and to provide them if a consumer requests them.
  • Safety tips for using pesticides:
  • Read the label carefully and follow the directions for mixing and use exactly as stated on the label – never guess how to use a product. If instructions for use are missing, don’t use that product.
  • Always use protective clothing with gloves, long sleeves, long pants and goggles or a face shield.  Avoid leather and canvas. Leather and canvas items that are contaminated with pesticides cannot be cleaned and will have to be thrown away.
  • Remove contact lenses as they can absorb pesticides and trap them in your eyes. Wear safety goggles over your glasses.
  • Check your equipment with water first for leaking hoses, connections, or dripping nozzles. 
  • When spraying outdoors, make sure all pets and people are out of that area. 
  • Apply only on days with no wind or breeze.  Never spray upwind or on hot days to reduce the risk of vaporization. 
  • When spraying indoors, close all windows and turn off all ventilation. Cover or remove items such as eating utensils, food and pet dishes to protect them from contamination. Remove pets and people from the area.  After spraying, keep the area closed for the amount of time specified on the label and then ventilate the area until the chemical has dried and the area is odor free.
  • Once projects are completed, clean your equipment immediately. Keep protective clothing on while cleaning and then remove it and clean it separate from other clothing to prevent contamination.
  • Wash your skin with soap and water. 

When storing pesticides:

  • Lock them away out of the reach of children. 
  • Always store pesticides in the original container with the original label intact.
  • Never leave mixtures in open jars since even a small amount of residue in the container can become a toxic dose for a curious child. 
  • Discard empty containers in a closed trash canister out of the reach of children and animals.
  • Buy the smallest size container that will fit your needs and use it up so you won’t have to store dangerous pesticides.

For a poisoning emergency, call the Poison Center immediately at 1-800-222-1222 where experts are standing by 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year to help you.

Next entry: What’s in Your Child’s Backpack

Previous entry: Pool Chemicals