Pesticide Safety for Home Gardening

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Gardeners with children should pay particular attention to the proper use of pesticides. In 2001, poison centers received more than 90,000 calls regarding exposure to pesticides — more than half involving children under age six.

Pesticides are, of course, designed to eliminate pests. The chemicals used to accomplish this mission are often dangerous to humans and pets as well, and must be handled with care. The rules of thumb for safe handling of pesticides include:

•Keep pesticides locked up and out of the reach of children and pets

•Read and follow all instructions on the container

•Keep the pesticide stored in its original container—do not transfer a pesticide to a food or drink container

•Store pesticides away from food, including pet food

•Do not use outdoor pesticides indoors – choose the right pesticide for the job

•Wear protective clothing, mask, and eye protection when spraying pesticides

•Do not spray pesticides on windy days

•Do not spray pesticides near children and pets, and keep them away from areas that have been sprayed

•Do not spray pesticides near uncovered food or water, or toys

•Follow the restricted time for reentering an area after a pesticide has been applied

•Wash hands and face thoroughly after applying pesticides, launder clothing

•Dispose of empty pesticide containers and unused pesticides properly

•Buy and use only legally sold, EPA-registered pesticides

•Peel or thoroughly wash produce under running water to remove pesticide residue