Mote: Tips on using pesticides safely

October 30, 2013 

Because the question, “What can I spray?” follows the question, “What is it?” I want to go over pesticide safety.

A pesticide is defined as a product used to kill a pest. Pesticides include herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, rodenticides and bactericides. Pesticides are dangerous but when handled properly, they can improve our quality of living.

Proper identification of the pest is the No. 1 thing when selecting a pesticide. Without proper pest identification, the pesticide might not be effective or might cause harm to the treated area. The most important thing when handling pesticides is to read the label. I cannot stress this statement enough.

The label contains information regarding the chemical name, brand name, formulations, name and address of manufacturer, single words to indicate hazard, precautionary statement, statement of practical treatment, directions for use and misuse statement. This information is intended to ensure your safety, as well as that of others, and to give you the best results.

Once you have fully read the label there are other things that you should do before you begin applying the pesticide.

• Wear protective clothing. This includes, but is not limited to, gloves, long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Please be sure to wear items specified by the label.

• Never consume food, drink, smoke or use the restroom while handling pesticides. Mix and/or dilute pesticides in a well-ventilated area and only mix up the amount that you are going to use.

• Remove pets, children and toys from the area where the pesticide is being applied. Do not allow for re-entry into the area until it is safe to do so. Always apply pesticides in a well-ventilated area.

• To avoid killing honey bees while spraying during bloom, spray late in the evening. Always wash your hands and clothing separately after handling pesticides. Store pesticides in their original container in a separate, cool, dry and well-ventilated area.

• Do not keep pesticides for more than two years, since the product may break down after this time period. Have spill and first aid kits just in case of an accident. Always dispose of pesticides properly. Most premixed pesticides that can be bought by homeowners have low toxicity to humans.

• Pesticide poisoning usually comes from concentrated products. If you feel that you or someone else is experiencing pesticide poisoning, contact Poison Control. They can evaluate the situation and direct you in the correct manner.

If you would like training on pesticide safety, contact your local extension office. The extension office offers the Georgia Competent Applicator of Pesticide Program. This program offers pesticide safety training to people who are not required to obtain a pesticide applicator’s license.

Again, the most important thing when handling pesticides is to read and follow the label!

For more information on any program area, contact Houston County Extension at 478-987-2028 or drop by our office in the old courthouse, downtown Perry, 801 Main St. Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visit our website at for more news about your local Extension office.

Source: UGA Extension Publications

Dates to remember

Nov. 14-15: Perry Small Conference, recertification credits

Nov. 15: Master Gardener Advance Training, Cleanscapes

Dec. 14: Small Farming: Where to Begin

Charlotte Mote is the Houston County agricultural and natural resources agent. Contact her at 478-987-2028 or

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