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Pesticides At Home

Definition

A pesticide is a substance that kills or controls unwanted pests. These include insects, weeds, fungi, mice, or bacteria. Types of pesticides include:
  • disinfectants
  • fungicides
  • herbicides
  • insecticides
  • plant growth regulators
  • rodenticides
  • What is the information for this topic?

    Pesticides are poisonous. In order to use them safely in the home, it is important to know as much about them as possible.

    Choosing a pesticide

    The most common types of pesticides used in the home come in the following forms:

    • aerosols, such as home interior sprays for ants
    • baits, such as ant traps
    • dusts or grains (for roaches or mice)
    • other products, such as flea collars for pets
    • powders that can be mixed with fluid
    • solutions

    Certain pesticides are effective against a wide range of pests. Others target only a few. Some products are more toxic than others. When choosing pesticides, a person should:

    • consider where in the home it is to be used
    • find out if any other organism (including human or pets) in the area could be affected by the use of the pesticide
    • know how long the active ingredient used in the pesticide will last
    • know what pest a product is recommended for
    • learn which forms are the most effective for the pest and least toxic to humans and pets
    Pesticides are poisons. They may be dangerous if swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin.

    Signal words on the product label indicate how poisonous a pesticide is:

    • "danger" - highly poisonous
    • "warning" - moderately poisonous
    • "caution" - least hazardous
    Preparing and using a pesticide Before using a pesticide, a person should read the product label carefully.

    When preparing or using a pesticide, a person should:

    • be aware that the more poison absorbed, the greater the risk of injury
    • keep the area well-ventilated
    • wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves, pants, rubber gloves, goggles, and in some cases, a mask or respirator
    • keep children and pets away until the active ingredient is no longer harmful
    • cover all foods, kitchen appliances and eating surfaces to keep the poison from being consumed accidentally
    • avoid eating or smoking while using the product
    After using a pesticide, a person should thoroughly clean hands and any other body surface in contact with the poison, and clothes. Clothing should be washed separately to keep the pesticide from coming in contact with other clothes.

    Storing a pesticide

    In order to avoid the possibility that someone could inadvertently consume a pesticide, these chemicals should never be stored in household containers. Stored pesticides should be labeled carefully with large writing in waterproof ink.
    Symptoms of pesticide exposure

    Symptoms of pesticide poisoning vary, depending on the organ system and type of pesticide. Some examples include:

    • fatigue, drowsiness, or headache if the nervous system is attacked
    • itching, tearing, or blurred vision of the eyes when they are involved
    • nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea when the stomach or intestines are poisoned
    • redness, stinging, itching, or blistering of the skin when it is exposed
    • runny nose if the lining of the nose or throat is affected
    • shortness of breath and rapid breathing if a pesticide is inhaled
    In extreme cases of pesticide poisoning, a person may be unable to breathe or move. This paralysis is the way many insecticides kill bugs.

    First aid for pesticide exposure

    If poisoning is suspected, the following actions should be taken:

    • scrub any exposed skin areas immediately with soap and water
    • flush involved eyes continuously with water from the sink or hose for at least 15 minutes
    • avoid eye medicines or eye drops, as these may interact with the pesticide
    • remove all contaminated clothing
    • avoid ointments, greases, or powders that may interact with the pesticide
    • bring the person to a well-ventilated area away from the poison
    If the person is unconscious, contact the emergency medical services by calling 911 immediately.
    If a pesticide was swallowed and the person is awake, contact the poison control center nearest you right away by calling 1-800-222-1222 and you will be automatically connected to your nearest center.
    Never make the person vomit unless specifically instructed to do so. After initial help is given, medical care should be sought immediately. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare professional and to the poison control center.

    Sources

    "The stuff in the backyard shed. (chlorpyrifos pesticide hazardous?)" U.S. News&World Report, Nov 8, 1999 v127 i18 p64. Jim Morris

    "What pests want in your home. (alternatives to pesticides)" National Wildlife, August-Sept 1999 pNA. Peter Jaret

    Citizens Guide to Pesticides. United States Environmental Protection Agency. May 92

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