Crop and Pest Management Guidelines

A Cornell Cooperative Extension Publication

1.2 Use Pesticides Safely

Using pesticides imparts a great responsibility on the user to protect their health and that of others and to protect the environment. Keep in mind there is more to "pesticide use" than the application. Pesticide use includes mixing, loading, transporting, storing, or handling pesticides after the manufacturer's seal is broken; cleaning pesticide application equipment; and preparing a container for disposal. These activities require thoughtful planning and preparation. They are also regulated by state and federal laws and regulations intended to protect the user, the community, and the environment from any adverse effects pesticides may cause.


1.2.1 Plan Ahead

Many safety precautions should be taken before you actually begin using pesticides. Too many pesticide applicators are dangerously and needlessly exposed to pesticides while they are preparing to apply them. Most pesticide accidents can be prevented with informed and careful practices. Always read the label on the pesticide container before you begin to use the pesticide. Make sure you understand and can follow all directions and precautions on the label. Be prepared to handle an emergency exposure or spill. Know the first aid procedures for the pesticides you use.


1.2.2 Move Pesticides Safely

Carelessness in transporting pesticides can result in broken containers, spills, and contamination of people and the environment. Once pesticides are in your possession, you are responsible for safely transporting them. Accidents can occur even when transporting materials a short distance. You are responsible for a pesticide accident so take every effort to transport pesticides safely. Be prepared for an emergency.


1.2.3 Personal Protective Equipment and Engineering Controls

Personal protective equipment needs depend on the pesticide being handled. Required personal protective equipment (PPE) are listed on pesticide labels. The required PPE are based on the pesticide's toxicity, route(s) of exposure, and formulation. Label required PPE are the minimum that must be worn during the pesticide's use. Pesticide users can always wear more protection than the label requires.

The type of protective equipment used depends on the type and duration of the activity, where pesticides are being used, and exposure of the handler. Mixing/loading procedures often require extra precautions. Studies show you are at a greater risk of accidental poisoning when handling pesticide concentrates. Pouring pesticide concentrates from one container to another is the most hazardous activity.

Engineering controls are devices that help prevent accidents and reduce a pesticide user's exposure. One example is a closed mixing/loading system that reduces the risk of exposure when dispensing concentrated pesticides. Consult the product label for more information on using engineering controls in place of PPE.


1.2.4 Avoid Drift, Runoff, and Spills

Pesticides that move out of the target area can injure people, damage crops, and harm the environment. Choose weather conditions, pesticides, application equipment, pressure, droplet size, formulations, and adjuvants that minimize drift and runoff hazards. See product labels for specific application and equipment requirements.


1.2.5 Avoid Equipment Accidents

Properly maintained and carefully used equipment contribute to safe pesticide application. Use the following guidelines to prevent accidents:


1.2.6 Pesticide Storage

Existing buildings or areas within existing buildings are often used to store pesticides. Whether you choose to build a new storage area or use existing buildings, consider several points:

Storage facility check list:

Additional guidance on pesticide storage is available online from the NYSDEC at 8871.html.

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