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    Pesticide Information Center

    seeks to strengthen the Pesticide Safety Education by improving the quality, consistency, and accessibility of educational offerings, promoting collaboration and leveraging of educational resources and learning assessment tools.

    Follow these safety recommendations to transport pesticides properly:

    • Follow your local pesticide transportation rules and regulations. Transporting any hazardous material can be risky, so regulations have been established by each state or country to protect transporting employees, people around them, and the environment. The regulations inform shippers how to package the materials safely and drivers how to load, transport, and unload the material. Shippers and manufacturers communicate the risk by putting hazard warning labels on packages, providing proper shipping papers, emergency response information, and placards on transportation vehicles and vessels.
    • Never transport pesticides in the passenger area of a vehicle; instead, place them in the trunk or truck bed. If you must transport pesticides in a station wagon or van, secure them in the back away from passengers and pets and open the side windows
    • Do not bag pesticides with groceries or other household items, or carry them in the same area of a vehicle to avoid accidental contamination.
    • Make certain pesticide container lids are securely fastened.
    • Secure containers in an upright position to ensure they cannot fall or be knocked over. Boxes and other packing materials may be useful. Wrap glass containers in paper to protect from breaking. It is nearly impossible to thoroughly clean pesticides from upholstery, so take extra precautions to ensure spills do not occur in a vehicle.
    • Protect pesticides from extreme hot or cold temperatures. Temperature extremes can damage containers and cause chemicals to lose effectiveness.
    • Never leave pesticides unattended in an unlocked trunk or open truck bed to prevent contact by children or others.
    • Keep vehicle clean of any pesticide residues.

    To learn more about safe transportation of pesticides, please send your inquiry to

    Proper pesticide storage is important to protect people, animals, and the pesticide itself. Keep these tips in mind when storing pesticides:

    a) The Container Matters

    • Pesticides should be stored in their original containers. The original container is designed to protect the product and it's made of materials that will withstand the chemicals in the product.
    • Store containers with their original labeling which includes application and disposal directions, ingredient names and emergency information.
    • The original container also has the appropriate lid/cap to protect kids and pets.

    b) Temperature Matters

    • Extremes in temperature can change the chemistry of some pesticides inside the container.
    • Extremes in temperature can also damage containers.
    • Always read the label for storage instructions. As a general rule, pesticides are best stored between 4.44 – 32.22 °C (40-90 °F).

    c) Location Matters

    • Designate a place that is only used for pesticide storage.
    • Pick a well-ventilated location that children and pets cannot access, preferably with a latch or lock.
    • Keep pesticides away from food, feed and flames.
    • Choose a location away from ponds, streams and drinking water wells.

    d) Safety Matters

    • Try to keep your pesticide inventory as low as possible. Buy only what you need this season; mix only what you need today.
    • Dispose of unwanted pesticides properly rather than storing them.
    • Never store pesticides in food or drink containers.
    • Consider storing bottles inside a larger container that could contain liquids in the event of a leak or spill.

    If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please contact

    As a pesticide applicator or pest management professional you have many responsibilities:

    • You make daily decisions about how much and what chemicals you apply.
    • You deal with complex and sensitive sites such as daycares, forests, and food establishments, which often require extra knowledge, training, and certification.
    • You have higher exposure potential than most people because you are working with pesticides so often.
    • You may need to respond to questions from the public about pesticides.

    Safe Use Practices for Pesticides

    Using pesticides safely depends on many things. Some of the most important factors include selecting the appropriate product, and using that product according to the label directions. The label directions are written to minimize the risk of problems and to define the legal uses for the product.

    In addition to reading and following the label directions, consider these tips when using pesticides:

    • Make sure kids, pets, and anyone non-essential to the application is out of the area before mixing and applying pesticides.
    • Be sure to wear clothing that will protect you when using pesticides. Consider wearing a long sleeve shirt, long pants, and closed-toe shoes in addition to any other protective clothing or equipment required by the label.
    • Mix pesticides outdoors or in well-ventilated areas.
    • Mix only what you need to use in the short term to avoid storing or disposing of excess pesticide.
    • Be prepared for a pesticide spill. Have paper towels, sawdust or kitty litter, garbage bags, and non-absorbent gloves on hand to contain the spill. Avoid using excessive amounts of water, as this may only spread the pesticide and could be harmful to the environment.
    • Read the first aid instructions on the label before using the product. Have the telephone number for the Poison Control Center available in case you have additional questions.
    • Remove personal items, such as toys, clothing, or tools from the spray area to avoid contamination.
    • When spraying pesticides indoors, make sure the area is well ventilated.
    • When applying pesticides as a spray or dust outside, avoid windy conditions and close the doors and windows to your home.
    • After using pesticides, wash your hands before smoking or eating.

    To learn more about pesticide application and pesticide applicator safety education, please send your inquiry to

    Pesticides need to be disposed of properly to prevent accidents and to protect the environment. If you have unwanted pesticide products, store them safely and dispose of them as soon as you can.

    • Dispose of pesticides as instructed on the product label. Look for the "Storage and Disposal" statement on your pesticide label.
    • If any product remains in the container it must be disposed of as household hazardous waste.
    • To find out where to take your unwanted pesticides, you can contact your local household hazardous waste, talk to your state's environmental agency. Remember! State and local laws can be more strict than federal requirements.
    • After emptying a pesticide container rinse it properly for disposal or recycling. Never reuse a pesticide container for any purpose!
    • Be sure to wear protective clothing when rinsing pesticide containers, such as chemical resistant gloves and eye protection.
    • Apply rinse water according to label directions; only where the pesticide was intended to be used.
    • Do not pour rinse water into any drain or on any site not listed on the product label; it could contaminate the environment.
    • If you mixed or diluted a pesticide and you have a little too much left over, try to use it up while following the label. Consider asking a neighbor if they can use any leftover mixtures.

    Keep these tips in mind

    • Practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to reduce the need for pesticides.
    • Identify the pest and make sure the product will be effective against that pest before buying the product.
    • Buy only what you need this season; mix only what you need today.

    Tips for transporting pesticides for disposal:

    • Keep the pesticides in their original containers with the labels attached.
    • Place containers so they won't shift and/or spill.
    • Line the transport area in your vehicle or place pesticides in a plastic bin to contain any spills in case of an accident.
    • If pesticides are carried in the back of an open vehicle, secure and cover the load.
    • Don't put pesticides in the passenger compartment of a vehicle.
    • Keep pesticides away from groceries, including food for animals.
    • Go straight to the collection site once you have loaded your vehicle. Drive carefully!

    If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please contact

    Pesticides and Human Health

    Pesticides have a specific purpose in society. Pesticides are intended to:

    • kill organisms that cause disease and threaten public health
    • control insects, fungus, and weeds that damage crops
    • control pests that damage homes and structures vital to public safety

    Because people use pesticides to kill, prevent, repel, or in some way adversely affect some living organism (the pest), pesticides by their nature are toxic to some degree. Even the least-toxic products, and those that are natural or organic, can cause health problems if someone is exposed to enough of it.

    People come into contact with pesticides in many ways, including:

    • When pesticides are used in and around our homes and gardens
    • When pesticides are used on our pets
    • When we work with pesticides
    • When pesticides are used in our communities or in our environment
    • When pesticides are used on the food we eat

    The risk of health problems depends not only on how toxic the ingredients are (Pesticide Ingredients), but also on the amount of exposure to the product. In addition, certain people like children, pregnant women and sick or aging populations may be more sensitive to the effects of pesticides than others.

    To reduce the risk of health problems from pesticides there are several things you can do:

    • Identify the least-toxic way to control your pest; learn about Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
    • Always read the pesticide label first! Select the appropriate product for your site, method and goals.
    • Read all precautions and warnings on the label prior to use. These are intended to help you prevent harmful exposures.
    • Take steps to minimize your exposure, even when using low toxicity pesticides.

    To learn more about pesticides and human health, please send your inquiry to

    Pesticides and Children

    All pesticides have some level of toxicity, and pose some risk to infants and children. The risk depends on the toxicity of the pesticide ingredients and how much of the pesticide a child is exposed to.

    Infants and children are more sensitive to the toxic effects of pesticides than adults.

    • An infant's brain, nervous system, and organs are still developing after birth.
    • When exposed, a baby's immature liver and kidneys cannot remove pesticides from the body as well as an adult's liver and kidneys.
    • Infants may also be exposed to more pesticide than adults because they take more breaths per minute and have more skin surface relative to their body weight.
    • Children often spend more time closer to the ground, touching baseboards and lawns where pesticides may have been applied.
    • Children often eat and drink more relative to their body weight than adults, which can lead to a higher dose of pesticide residue per pound of body weight.
    • Babies that crawl on treated carpeting may have a greater potential to dislodge pesticide residue onto their skin or breathe in pesticide-laden dust.
    • Young children are also more likely to put their fingers, toys, and other objects into their mouths.

    Because of this, it is important to minimize your child's exposure to pesticides. One way to minimize exposure to pesticides is to take an approach called Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM is a pest control strategy that uses a combination of methods to prevent and eliminate pests in the most effective and least hazardous manner.

    If you choose to use a pesticide, keep these tips in mind to minimize risk to infants and children:

    • Always be sure to read the product label first. The product must be approved for the intended use and applied according to label directions.
    • Seek the least-toxic pesticide option available. Use the signal word to identify products that are low in toxicity.
    • Keep children out of treated areas while pesticides are being applied, and until areas are dry. The product label may have more specific instructions.
    • Allow plenty of time for the pesticide to dry and the home to ventilate before returning.
    • If your lawn or carpeting has recently been treated with pesticides, consider using shoes, blankets or another barrier between the treated surface and children's skin.
    • Be sure children wash their hands before eating, especially after playing outdoors.
    • If you apply pesticides to your pets, be sure to keep children from touching the pet until the product has completely dried.
    • Place ant, snail and rodent baits in locked bait stations or safely out of reach of children.
    • Never use mothballs outside of sealed, airtight containers. Children often mistake mothballs for food when used improperly around the home.
    • Never use illegal pesticides, such as Miraculous, Pretty Baby or Chinese Chalk. It looks and writes like normal chalk, and the pesticide dust can be breathed in, get on kids' hands or end up in their mouths.
    • Be sure to store pesticides in their original containers. Never use food or beverage utensils or containers to mix or store pesticides.
    • Store all pesticides out of the reach of children.
    • If someone in the household works with pesticides, take steps to reduce the amount of pesticide residues they bring into the home. If possible, wash and dry the work clothes separate from family laundry.

    To learn more about pesticides and human health, please send your inquiry to

    Pesticide and Pregnancy

    All pesticides have some level of toxicity and pose some risk during pregnancy. The risk depends on the toxicity of the pesticide ingredients and how much of the pesticide you and the baby are exposed to while pregnant. During pregnancy, the baby's brain, nervous system, and organs are developing rapidly and can be more sensitive to the toxic effects of pesticides. Because of this, it is important to minimize exposure to pesticides during pregnancy.

    One way to minimize your exposure to pesticides is to take an approach called Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM is a pest control strategy that uses a combination of methods to prevent and eliminate pests in the most effective and least hazardous manner. For more information on IPM send your inquiry to

    If you choose to use a pesticide during pregnancy, keep these tips in mind to minimize your risks:

    • Always be sure to read the product label first. The product must be approved for the intended use and applied according to label directions.
    • Seek the least-toxic pesticide option available for controlling your pest.
    • If possible, have someone else perform the pesticide application and leave the area.
    • Allow plenty of time for the home to air out, and the pesticide to dry before returning.
    • Avoid contact with the treated areas as much as possible.
    • If you must garden in areas that have been treated with pesticides, consider wearing gloves and clothing that covers your skin.
    • If someone in your family works with pesticides, learn more about minimizing exposure and washing work clothes.
    • Call econtrol to learn about the reproductive toxicity of the pesticide. Often, laboratory tests have been done to investigate those risks.

    To learn more about pesticides and human health, please send your inquiry to

    Pesticide and Aging Population

    As people age, they can become increasingly sensitive to pesticide exposure. Certain changes that occur with age limit the body's ability to process pesticide chemicals efficiently, or recover from adverse effects that may occur following a pesticide exposure. Older adults should consider taking precautions to minimize their exposure to pesticides.

    • Consider using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies that allow you to control pests with the least possible hazard.
    • If you choose to use a pesticide, make sure to read the label first! The label will provide important information for protecting yourself.
    • Be sure to wear clothing that is appropriate for applying pesticides, such as closed-toe shoes, long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and any personal protective clothing or equipment listed on the product label.
    • Use only what you need, and be sure to store or dispose of the product properly. Storage and disposal information is located on the product label.
    • If someone else is applying pesticides in or around your home, consider remaining out of the treated areas during application for the recommended amount of time.

    Other sensitive populations to pesticide exposure include pregnant women, infants and children, and people with compromised immune systems.

    To learn more about pesticides and human health, please send your inquiry to  

    First Aid for Pesticide Poisoning

    Call a Doctor

    First Aid is the initial effort to help a victim while medical help is on the way. Step one in any poisoning emergency is to call an ambulance or doctor. The only exception is when you are all alone with the victim. Then you must see that he is breathing and that he is not further exposed before leaving him to make your phone call. Always save the pesticide and label for the doctor.

    While Waiting Do This For:

    Poison on the Skin

    • The faster the poison is washed off the patient, the less injury that will result.
    • Drench skin and clothing with water (shower, hose, faucet, pond).
    • Remove clothing.
    • Cleanse skin and hair thoroughly with soap and water. Detergents and commercial cleansers are better than soap.
    • Dry and wrap in a blanket.
    WARNING: Do not allow any pesticide to get on you while you are helping the victim.

    Chemical Burns of the Skin

    • Wash with large quantities of slow running water.
    • Remove contaminated clothing.
    • Immediately cover loosely with a clean, soft cloth.
    • Avoid use of ointments, greases, powders, and other drugs in first aid treatment of burns.
    • Recognize the signs of pesticide poisoning and know first aid treatment for it.
    • Know the importance of a pesticide first aid kit and what it should contain.

    Understand the importance of poison control centers and how to get immediate information on types of poisonings and their treatment.

    Poison in the Eye

    • It is most important to wash the eye out quickly but as gently as possible.
    • Hold eyelids open and wash eye with a gentle stream of clean running water.
    • Continue washing for fifteen minutes or more. It is important to use a large volume of water. If possible, at least five gallons should be used to flush the eye properly.
    • Do not use chemicals or drugs in wash water. They may increase the extent of the injury.
    • Cover the eye with a clean piece of cloth and seek medical attention immediately.

    Inhaled Poisons (dusts, vapors, gases)

    • If victim is in an enclosed space, do not go in after him unless you are wearing an air-supplied respirator.
    • Carry patient (do not let him walk) to fresh air immediately.
    • Open all doors and windows.
    • Loosen all tight clothing.
    • Apply artificial respiration if breathing has stopped or is irregular.
    • Keep victim as quiet as possible.
    • If victim is convulsing, watch his breathing and protect him from falling and striking his head. Keep his chin up so his air passage will remain free for breathing.
    • Prevent chilling (wrap patient in blankets but don't overheat).
    • Do not give the victim alcohol in any form.

    Swallowed Poisons -- When should you make the victim vomit?

    The most important choice you have to make when aiding a person who has swallowed a pesticide, is whether or not to make him vomit. The decision must be made quickly and accurately, by a health care professional because the victim's life may depend on it. Usually it is best to get rid of the swallowed poison fast ...


    But you should know this:

    • Never induce vomiting if the victim is unconscious or is having convulsions. The victim could choke to death on the vomitus.
    • Never induce vomiting if the victim has swallowed a corrosive poison. Find out what poison the person has ingested. A corrosive poison is strong acid or alkali. The victim will complain of severe pain and will show signs of severe mouth and throat burns. A corrosive poison will burn the throat and mouth as severely coming up as it did going down. Dilute the poison as quickly as possible. For acids or alkalis, use milk or water. For patients one to five years old, use one to two cups; for patients five years and older, use up to one quart. For acids, milk of magnesia may also be used (two tablespoons in one cup of water).
    • Never induce vomiting if the person has swallowed petroleum products such as kerosene, gasoline, oil, or lighter fluid. Most pesticides which come in liquid formulations are dissolved in petroleum products. The words "emulsifiable concentrate" or "solution" on the pesticide label are signals NOT to induce vomiting in the poison victim if he has swallowed the concentrates. Concentrated petroleum products (like corrosive poisons) cause severe burns. They will burn as severely when vomited up. If he has swallowed a dilute form of these formulations, he should be forced to vomit immediately.

    How to Induce Vomiting

    • Do not waste a lot of time inducing vomiting. Use it only as first aid until you can get the victim to a hospital. Make sure the victim is lying face down or kneeling forward while retching or vomiting. Do not let him lie on his back, because vomitus could enter the lungs and do more damage.
    • First give the patient large doses of milk or water. One to two cups for victims up to five years old; up to a quart for victims five years and older.
    • If victim is alert and respiration is not depressed, give syrup of ipecac followed by one to two glasses of water to induce vomiting. Adults (twelve years and over): 30 ml (two tablespoons); children under twelve years: 15 ml (one tablespoon). Activity hastens the effect of the syrup of ipecac.
    • Collect some of the vomitus for the doctor he/she may need it for chemical tests.
    • The best first aid is to dilute the poison as quickly as possible with milk or preferably with water. It is very important that the victim get to the hospital without delay. Many communities have rescue units with ambulances manned by Emergency Medical Technicians who can communicate with the hospital and can begin treatment enroute.
    • If a rescue unit is not available in your area, you will have to transport the patient. Call the hospital emergency room or poison control center for instructions so that they can prepare for the victim's arrival. If the poison control center agrees, use activated charcoal as a "sponge" to absorb excess poisons after the instructions for corrosive or noncorrosive poisons are followed.
    • Activated charcoal it absorbs many poisons at a high rate. Mix it with water into a thick syrup for the victim to drink. Activated charcoal is available from a drug store.
    • Atropine tablets should not be taken in a poisoning emergency. The dose is much too small. Often the victim cannot or should not take oral medicine. The atropine can hide or delay early symptoms of poisoning. The victim may be fooled into thinking he is okay and may even go back to work. It is possible that a doctor may not detect the problem because the symptoms are hidden by the atropine.

    WARNING: Atropine can be poisonous if misused. It should never be used to prevent poisoning. Workers should not carry atropine for first aid purposes. It should be given only under a doctor's directions.


    Sometimes poisoning victims go into shock. If untreated or ignored, the victim can die from shock even if the poisoning injuries would not be fatal.


    The skin will be pale, moist, cold and clammy. The eyes are vacant and lackluster with dilated pupils. The breathing will be shallow and irregular. The pulse is very weak, rapid and irregular. The victim may be unconscious or in a faint.

    • Unless he/she is vomiting, keep the victim flat on his back with his legs up 1-1 1/2 feet above his head.
    • Keep the victim warm enough to prevent shivering. Do not overheat.
    • Keep the victim quiet and reassure him often.

    WARNING: Never try to give anything orally to an unconscious victim.


    Poison Control Centers

    Poison control centers have been established to give pertinent information on all types of poisonings, including pesticide poisoning. The applicator should have posted near his phone the telephone number of the nearest poison control center, and his doctor should also have the number available.

    In any poisoning emergency, think first of water. Your first aim is to dilute the pesticide no matter where it is. Then get the victim to a doctor fast.


    First Aid Kit for Field and On-the-Job Use

    A well-equipped first aid kit which is always readily available can be important in a pesticide emergency. Make up your own pesticide first aid kit from a lunch pail, tool box, or a sturdy wooden box. It should have a tight-fitting cover with a latch, so that it won't come open or allow pesticides to leak inside. Label it clearly with paint or a water proof marker.

    • A small plastic bottle of a common Detergent. It is used to wash pesticides quickly off the skin.
    • A small package or bag of Activated Charcoal. Mixed with water and swallowed, activated charcoal acts as an absorber of all pesticides.
    • A Shaped Plastic Airway for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
    • A thermos or large plastic bottle (at least one quart) of Clean Water. If there is no clean water in an emergency, use any pond or stream water that is available.
    • Simple Band Aids, Bandages and Tape. All cuts and scrapes should be covered to prevent pesticides from easily entering the body.
    • A Blanket is very useful. It should be kept in a place where it will not be contaminated by pesticides.
    • Suitable Coins should always be taped to the inside cover of the first -aid kit. They are for an emergency phone call.
    • A small, plastic Empty Jar with a tight-fitting lid is useful as a drinking glass for the victim, in order to induce vomiting or feed activated charcoal. It can also be used for collecting vomitus to take to the doctor.

    Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisoning

    The fifth edition of the Spanish manual entitled, Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisoning, was edited by Dr. Routt Reigart and Dr. James Roberts, and published by the EPA's pesticide program office. Both versions of English and Spanish are now available.

    The new version, the sixth revised edition of the EPA Pesticide Poisoning Awareness and Management manual is available in English

    Section III: Herbicides

    Section IV: Other Pesticides

    Routes of Pesticide Exposure

    Pesticides can enter the body through the following four routes of entry:
    • Skin (Dermal)
    • Eyes (Ocular)
    • Nose (Inhalation)
    • Mouth (Ingestion)

    The majority of the reported cases of non-agricultural pesticide exposure involved skin contact. However, workers who work in enclosed space production areas may mention they are more concerned about inhaling pesticides, while handlers may state they are worried about splashing pesticides in their eyes during mixing and loading tasks. Certain situations increase the risk of pesticide exposure through the eyes, nose, mouth or skin.

    Situations that may Lead to Pesticide Exposure Through the Skin
    • Workers who choose to wear a short-sleeve shirt on a warm day leave their forearms exposed to pesticide residues. Warm weather causes people to sweat and this sweat can help pesticides enter into a person’s body through their pores.
    • Pesticides can also enter through cuts or sores on a person’s skin.
    • Workers or handlers who carry and use their cell phones while they are working with pesticides or areas where pesticides have been applied, might transfer pesticide residues from their phones to their faces or hands when they answer a call or respond to a text.
    • Skin exposure can occur by wearing work clothes that have pesticide residues on them.
    • Pesticide residues can transfer from contaminated hands to other parts of the body if workers or handlers do not wash their hands thoroughly before eating, drinking, smoking or using the restroom.
    • Skin exposure can also occur when a pesticide drifts onto people who are working near an application.
    • Handlers or early-entry workers may absorb pesticides through their skin if they fail to wear the label-required gloves or if they don’t wash their gloves with soap and water before removing them.
    • Handlers may take off their gloves to adjust, clean or repair pesticide application equipment, which may contain pesticide residues.
    • Handlers may accidentally splash a pesticide onto their skin when mixing a pesticide or loading a spray tank.
    Situations that may Lead to Pesticide Exposure Through the Eyes
    • Workers can transfer pesticide residues to their eyes if they touch their eyes after coming into contact with treated surfaces.
    • Sweat could run down a worker’s or handler’s forehead and carry pesticide residues into their eyes.
    • A handler may rub their eye with a contaminated glove.
    • A handler may splash or spray pesticides in their eyes when mixing and loading pesticides, adjusting application equipment or applying a product overhead without wearing proper eye protection.
    • If a handler is wearing the required protective eyewear and it slips down his or her face or if the handler removes the eye protection when it fogs up, the handler can get pesticides in their eyes.
    Situations that may Lead to Inhalation of Pesticides
    • Workers may be at risk of inhaling pesticides if they continue to work while in an application exclusion zone (AEZ) or in enclosed spaces such as greenhouses before the REI has expired.
    • A worker or handler may smoke a cigarette near an area where pesticides are stored or applied. Tobacco absorbs pesticides and therefore that person could inhale the pesticide vapors.
    • If a pesticide container leaks in a storage area, people who enter the area may inhale the vapors from the spilled product.
    • A handler may mix two incompatible pesticides together, which can create toxic fumes when combined.
    • Pesticide exposure can occur if a handler fails to wear the label required respirator, does not change the cartridge, uses the wrong cartridge, or uses a respirator that does not fit correctly.
    Situations that may Lead to Ingesting or Swallowing a Pesticide
    • Workers or handlers who fail to wash their hands before eating or drinking may get pesticide residues in their mouths.
    • If an employee takes a snack or lunch break too close to an area where pesticides are stored or used, the food or drink could become contaminated.
    • A worker or handler who takes produce home directly from the field may get exposed to pesticide residues that are still on the produce.
    • Workers and handlers can swallow pesticides if they drink water from irrigation canals, pipes or sprinklers as irrigation water may contain pesticide residues.
    • A person may accidentally swallow a pesticide if they take a sip from a beverage container that someone has illegally used to store or measure pesticides.

    Hazards of Pesticides Resulting from Toxicity and Type of Exposure Toxicity is the potential of any pesticide to cause harm. Pesticides are often toxic to the target pests for which they are intended. Some pesticides can also be toxic to humans. Additionally, people differ in their susceptibility to injury from pesticides, which can depend on their health, age or other factors. For these reasons workers and handlers should always take steps to minimize their exposure to pesticides. Even the least toxic pesticides may cause illness.

    Signs and Symptoms of Common Types of Pesticide Poisonings

    Symptoms are any abnormal condition or change in health function that a person sees or senses, or that can be detected by medical examination or laboratory tests. These symptoms may indicate the presence of a disease, disorder or an illness or injury.

    Poisoning symptoms vary among classes of pesticides and pesticides within a class. For example, pesticides that control weeds (herbicides) can be less toxic to humans than some pesticides used to control insects (insecticides). The severity of symptoms is usually proportional to the amount of pesticide entering the person’s body and the person’s sensitivity to certain chemical ingredients.

    If a worker or handler feels sick while working in a pesticide-treated area or when handling a pesticide, it may be difficult to determine if the symptoms are related to a pesticide exposure. Common pesticide symptoms mimic those of a cold, flu, heat stress, morning sickness, food poisoning or a hangover.

    The following is a list of symptoms that may result from pesticide exposure:

    • eye irritation
    • chest pain
    • nose and throat pain
    • breathing difficulties
    • skin rash
    • blurred vision
    • dizziness
    • excessive salivation or drooling
    • headache
    • very small, pinpoint pupils
    • muscle aches or cramps
    • lack of muscle control
    • exhaustion
    • convulsions or seizures
    • nausea
    • unconsciousness
    • diarrhea
    • death

    In addition, people exposed to certain fumigants may experience

    • irrational behavior, or
    • elevated body temperatures.

    The type and severity of exposure symptoms can be influenced by several factors, such as the

    • pesticide itself,
    • toxicity of the product,
    • amount and concentration of the pesticide at the time of exposure,
    • length of exposure,
    • amount absorbed into the body,
    • route of entry, or
    • how fast the body absorbs and excretes it.

    One pesticide may cause only mild eye irritation if splashed in a person’s eye, while exposure to another product may result in blurred vision or blindness. Some pesticides are extremely toxic if swallowed but not as harmful if spilled on the skin. Finally, there are pesticides that, when used correctly and according to the safety measures listed on the label, cause no known adverse health effects.

    Another factor that can significantly influence the type and severity of reaction to pesticide exposure is the overall health and genetic makeup of the individual. Each person is different. People who are elderly, very young, sick, or who have compromised immune systems may have less tolerance to some types of pesticides. Furthermore, people who have medical conditions, such as asthma, may experience breathing difficulties when working in an area where pesticides have been applied even after the REI has expired.

    Pesticide exposure can be hazardous for pregnant women and may result in miscarriage or cause harm to their unborn child.

    Children are often more susceptible to the effects of pesticides as their bodies and internal organs are still developing and may be negatively impacted by exposure. For this reason, all handlers who work directly with pesticides or workers who enter an area still under a REI (early-entry workers) must be at least 18 years old.

    Acute, Chronic and Delayed Effects of Pesticide Exposure and Sensitization Many pesticide exposure symptoms will show up immediately following an exposure incident; other symptoms can be delayed and result in long-term (chronic) health effects or chemical sensitivity.

    Immediate or Acute Health Effects

    The onset of acute illness or injury occurs shortly after or within 24 hours following an exposure. These illnesses or injuries can be serious and may result in lost work time and/or medical treatment. In the most serious cases, acute health effects could result in death. Examples of acute health effects include

    • nausea;
    • headache or dizziness;
    • red or watery eyes;
    • rash, irritated, or burning skin; and
    • throat irritation or difficulty breathing.

    Delayed, Long-Term or Chronic Health Effects

    Long-term or chronic effects are illnesses or injuries that develop or persist over long periods of time. They may result from a single exposure incident involving an extremely toxic pesticide or a large amount of pesticide. It may also result from many repeated exposures at a level that is too low to produce noticeable immediate illnesses or injuries. Therefore, it is extremely important for workers and handlers to take all of the necessary steps to protect themselves from a pesticide exposure. Symptoms from repeated pesticide exposure may not show up for weeks, months, or even years. These delayed symptoms may be difficult to associate with their cause because of the lapse of time between exposure and observable effects.

    Delayed and long-term or chronic health effects associated with exposure to certain pesticides include

    • cancer,
    • fertility problems,
    • respiratory illness,
    • nervous system disorders,
    • birth defects,
    • damage to the organs or immune system, and
    • skin disorders.

    Sensitization is the gradual development of an allergic reaction to a type of pesticide or chemicals in general. Some people get headaches, rashes, or experience dizziness each time they work with a pesticide or enter an area where pesticides were recently used.

    Workers and handlers may better understand sensitization if it is compared to an allergic reaction to poison oak or poison ivy. Not everyone will have an adverse skin reaction the first few times they come in contact with the plants. However, after repeated exposures some people will become sensitized and develop a rash that becomes worse with each additional exposure.

    Some people will experience sensitization after working with a product for several years. Not everyone will develop a sensitivity to pesticides, but those who do should avoid exposure to the pesticide creating the adverse reaction.

    Pesticide Types and Formulations, Toxicity Signal Words and Residues

    Most people are familiar with insecticidal aerosol sprays they may use in their homes and liquid herbicides they may use to control weeds in their yards. There are several types of pesticides and formulations used on non-agricultural establishments.

    Some of the most commonly-used types of pesticides are

    • Avicides – to control birds
    • Insecticides – to control insect pests
    • Herbicides – to control weeds
    • Rodenticides – to control rats, mice, and other rodents
    • Fungicides – to control fungi (fungus) and disease organisms
    • Miticides – to control mites
    • Nematicides – to control nematodes

    Pesticides are formulated in different ways and are applied to structures and surrounding landscapes in a variety of forms.

    Some of the most commonly-used formulations are

    • liquids
    • pellets
    • dusts
    • gases
    • powders
    • gels
    • granules
    • aerosols


    Toxicity Signal Word

    The signal words on the pesticide label reflect the relative degree of the product’s acute (immediate) toxicity. Signal words include Danger, Danger-Poison, Warning, and Caution.

    Danger or Danger-Poison

    The most acutely toxic pesticides have the signal word “Danger” on the label. If the pesticide is highly acutely toxic when inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through the skin, the product will also have the word “Poison” along with a skull and crossbones symbol on the label.


    Pesticides that are moderately acutely toxic to people have the signal word “Warning” on the label.


    Pesticides that are slightly acutely toxic have the signal word “Caution” on the label. Some low acutely toxic pesticides may have no signal word.


    Pesticide Residues

    Pesticide residues may be found in or on treated surfaces such as

    • target areas where pesticides are applied
    • plants and soil;
    • vehicles, sprayers, and other application equipment;
    • work clothing, shoes, and PPE (including gloves);
    • pesticide mixing and loading areas;
    • air that drifts from a nearby pesticide application;
    • irrigation water as a result of pesticide runoff or chemigation; and
    • pesticide containers, shelves, and the air inside pesticide storage areas