Can pesticides be used safely?

Pesticides tend to get a bad rap in the public consciousness, yet we often turn to pesticides to ensure homes free of annoying and possibly infectious insects and beautiful, fruitful gardens. The harmful side effects of pesticides can be mitigated by following basic safety procedures and using common sense.

  • Use a pesticide intended for domestic use. The non-domestic ones tend to be much stronger and require special training and safety precautions. If your home or garden requires special pesticide treatment, bring in a professional.
  • Read the instructions on the pesticide package carefully and follow them meticulously.
  • Many pesticides need to be mixed before use. Be sure to do this in a well-ventilated area where you won't breathe in too many fumes. It's a good idea to wear a mask and goggles. You may also need these during application of the pesticide.
  • Don't use more than you need to; it's better for your pocket as well as your health to use just the amount of pesticide that's right for the job.
  • You shouldn't let the chemicals touch your skin. Wear clothes that will cover your arms and legs, as well as strong, impermeable gloves, and remember to wash well when you've finished the job.
  • Clean up your work area, gear and materials after use.
  • Store unused chemicals in safe containers and place them well above the reach of children and animals.
  • Check with local authorities, such as the Department of Natural Resources, about the appropriate way to dispose of large quantities of unused pesticides.

If you take these steps and simple precautions, including keeping your family and pets away from treated areas until they are dry and aerated, there is no reason to fear using pesticides in a limited fashion.