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Pesticide poses many potential dangers if used and/or stored in the home. Careful handling is necessary to ensure the safety of those applying the pesticide and those exposed to it in their environment. By following several guidelines, you can prevent several possible mishaps before they occur.

Always read the label before buying or using any pesticide. Use pesticides only for the purpose(s) listed and in the manner directed, and note warnings and cautions each time before opening the container. Pesticides that require special protective clothing or equipment should be used only by trained, experienced applicators.

Keep pesticides out of the reach of children, pets and irresponsible people. They should be stored away from food and feed. Always store pesticides in original containers and keep them tightly closed. Never transfer a pesticide to a container that would attract children, such as a soft drink bottle.

Care should be taken in the application of pesticides. Do not smoke or eat while working with pesticides. Do not apply more than the specified amount of pesticide, as overdoses can harm you and the environment. Avoid inhaling sprays or dusts. When directed on the label, wear protective clothing and masks, and do not spray on windy days. Keep children and pets away from sprayed areas to ensure their safety. Cover food and water containers when treating around livestock or pet areas. Do not contaminate aquaria or fish ponds.

If you spill a pesticide, spray, or dust on your skin or on your clothing after spraying or dusting, wash hands and face and change to clean clothing, laundering clothes before wearing again. Use separate equipment for applying hormone-type herbicides (such as 2,4-D) in order to avoid accidental injury to susceptible plants. Store herbicides (weed killers) separately to avoid mixing with other pesticides. Dispose of empty containers safely. Wrap single containers of home use products in several layers of newspaper, tie securely and place in a covered trash can. Never burn boxes or sacks, or pour unused portions into the sewer system. If symptoms of illness occur during or shortly after spraying or dusting, call your local poison treatment center or physician or take the patient to a hospital immediatedly.

In case of pesticide poisoning, CALL YOUR LOCAL POISON TREATMENT CENTER (see attached list) OR FAMILY PHYSICIAN. The following lists the poison treatment centers in Michigan which can furnish specific information, including antidotes, for various substances. These centers remain open 24 hours a day and can give emergency treatment advice over the phone.

FOR POISONS SPILLED ON THE SKIN: Remove clothing, drench skin with water, cleanse and wash thoroughly with soap and warm water. Particles in the eyes may be removed by thoroughly washing with a gentle stream of clean, warm running water. Summon medical help as soon as possible.

FOR POISONS THAT HAVE BEEN INHALED (DUSTS, VAPORS, GASES): Carry the patient to fresh air immediately. Loosen all tight clothing. Apply artificial respiration if breathing has stopped or is irregular. Keep patient as quiet as possible. Prevent chilling (wrap patient in blankets but don't overheat). Summon medical help as soon as possible.

FOR POISONS THAT HAVE BEEN SWALLOWED: Induce vomiting immediately, but never if the victim is unconscious or is in convulsions. Never induce vomiting if the victim has swallowed a corrosive poison. With corrosive poisons, the victim will have severe pain and signs of severe mouth and throat burns. Summon medical help as soon as possible.

To induce vomiting, give one tablespoon (1/2 ounce) of syrup of ipecac to a child over one-year-old or one fluid ounce (2 tablespoons) to an adult, followed by a glass of water. Make sure the victim is kneeling before inducing vomiting. If you do not have syrup of ipecac, give 1 cup of milk or water for victims up to five years old or 1 to 2 glasses for victims five years and older. Induce vomiting by putting your finger or the blunt end of a spoon on the very back of his tongue. Do not use anything which is sharp or pointed! An ounce of syrup of ipecac may be obtained without a prescription from your pharmacist. This should be kept on hand for emergency use.


J.L. Sayer and A.R. Putnam Department of Horticulture Michigan State University

Visuals associated with this text.

Visual title - Visual size Visual title - Visual size
Herbicide damage - 32K Herbicide injury, 2,4-D on tomato - 33K
Herbicide injury, soil sterilant used on lawn - 49K
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