Safe use of pesticides does not have a simple, one-size-fits-all solution, but here are some basic pesticide safety principles – a starting point for safety from purchase to disposal.
- Read the entire pesticide label before purchase and use. You are legally required to read and follow everything on the label except the information about crops or sites that you are not going to treat.
- Follow all applicable federal, state, tribal and local laws and regulations concerning the use of pesticides and personal protective equipment.
- Seek competent advice if there is something you don’t understand on the label or in other applicable laws and regulations.
- Transport pesticides in the trunk or truck bed, separate from passengers, groceries or animal feed, and secure the containers to prevent spills.
- Store pesticides in a locked cabinet or secure area, away from food, feed, or personal protective equipment.
- Measure and mix pesticides in a well-ventilated area away from children, pets, toys, and food.
- Calibrate and maintain application equipment so that the amount of pesticide applied will be accurate, uniform, and legal.
- Keep pesticides on target – use untreated buffers if necessary or delay the application if conditions favor off-target movement due to wind or water.
- Identify sensitive areas and organisms that could be affected by the application, and take all necessary precautions.
- Do everything possible to prevent spills and leaks, and always have an absorbent material such as cat litter or sawdust readily available.
- Wash slightly contaminated work clothes separately before re-use, and follow all directions on care and disposal of personal protective equipment.
- Dispose of the pesticide properly, as well as any excess spray mixture, empty containers, and contaminated cleanup material and clothing.
Success in protecting yourself, others, and the environment depends on your personal knowledge and diligence when handling pesticides!
For state and territory laws and more, here are the regulatory agency contacts:
- Association of American Pesticide Control Officials
- Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials
A few examples of helpful resources:
- Homeowner’s Guide to Pesticide Safety
- Homeowner’s Guide to Pesticide Use Around the Home and Garden
- What you need to know about…Reading a Pesticide Label
- What you need to know about…Storing a Pesticide
- Using Your Handheld Lawn and Garden Sprayer
- Pesticide Safety and Calibration Math for the Homeowner
- How to Handle Spills of Household Pesticide
- What you need to know about…Protecting Yourself When Using Pesticides
- Disposal of Household Pesticide Products
- Pesticide and Container Disposal for Homeowners
More examples of helpful resources can be found in the ‘Helpful Educational Links’ and ‘Pesticide Safety Education Program Contacts and Websites’ sections of this webpage.