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Use caution and care when using pesticides

Posted: April 20, 2014 - 12:00am

When a pest problem reveals itself, the best way to handle it might not be by using pesticides. Sometimes, cultural practices or natural enemies of the pest can be an option.

When a pesticide needs to be used, it is essential to read the label. When followed, the label provides protection for applicators, consumers and the environment. Using pesticides in a manner inconsistent with the label violates federal and state law.

The label provides all necessary information about the product. The first part of the label is the trade name used in advertising the product, such as Roundup. Also on the front will be the active ingredient, which will be listed as a common name and a chemical name. The active ingredient common name for the Roundup example is glyphosate, and the chemical name is N -(phosphonomethyl)glycine. Always compare products by their active ingredient common name. Many products are sold by different companies under different trade names but are actually the same chemical component.

The pesticide label will include three signal words that indicate the potential hazard of the product to humans. These words are “caution,” “warning” or “danger.”

The least-toxic products carry the signal word “caution.” This indicates the product is slightly toxic to relatively nontoxic orally, dermally or through inhalation, or causes slight eye and skin irritation. Products with the “warning” are moderately toxic orally, dermally or through inhalation, or cause moderate eye and skin irritation. The pesticides with “danger” on their labels are highly toxic orally, dermally, through inhalation, or causes severe eye or skin burning.

Some labels fully describe the appropriate personal protective equipment. When no guidelines are given for protective equipment, follow these minimal safety precautions: wear long sleeves, long pants, shoes with socks, gloves, and some type of eye protection.

The most important part of the label is the “Directions for Use” section. This section tells you what pests the product is registered to control, sites on which this product can be used, in what form the product is applied, how much of the product should be used, and when and where it should be applied. Read the label carefully, because the same chemical can be marketed under different trade names. If it is a product that can be used on vegetables, the label will indicate how soon after use the vegetables can be harvested. This is called the pre-harvest interval (PHI).

In the “Directions for Use” section of the label, an often-ignored direction is the amount of pesticide to use, which is expressed as a rate to apply the pesticide. The amounts are usually listed in a range from minimum to maximum amounts that can be used safely. The maximum dosage is what the Environmental Protection Agency will permit by law. However, environmental conditions may not require maximum doses to achieve control of the pest. Never increase the maximum dosage of a pesticide; this is a violation of federal and state law and could lead to health and environmental problems.

A personal note:

I would like to give a well deserved and heart felt thank you to every doctor and nurse that have helped bring our son Turner into this world and worked to keep him here. It started out a bumpy road but was quickly smoothed by the care and attention that Turner received during his stay at University Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Every person my wife and I have had the pleasure of meeting at University Hospital has been professional, personable, comforting and accommodating in every way. I also want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers during this time. God is Good! Anna, Turner, and I would like to thank our families, friends, and work families for all the love and support. We love you.

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