Important Pesticide Handling Practices

Read the pesticide label before beginning to mix, load, and apply pesticides. Take the following precautions:

  • Have detergent or soap and an adequate supply of water available.
  • Learn the first aid procedures for the pesticides you are using, and be sure that the right first aid supplies are available.
  • Have appropriate spill clean-up materials on hand.
  • Make certain that spray equipment is functioning properly. Check hoses, fittings, valves, and tanks on sprayer equipment for leaks or signs of failure. Develop a check list and run through it.
  • Be sure that help is available nearby in case there is trouble.
  • Use all recommended protective clothing and equipment.
  • When working with pesticides, never eat, drink, smoke, or go to the restroom without first washing your hands.
  • Never mix or transfer pesticides near a well or other water source. Mix pesticides at different locations in the field. Over time, small quantities spilled in one area may accumulate and cause serious contamination.
  • When filling a tank from a water system, leave an air gap between the hose and the tank (Figure 1), or use a backflow prevention device. Do not insert the filler hose into the pesticide mixture. These measures will prevent pesticide from siphoning out of the tank.

Pesticide Spills

Spill response kit

Have a spill response kit handy. Among the useful items are:

  • Duct tape or electrician’s tape–for sealing cracks.
  • Washer-headed screws–for sealing holes, caulking, or sealant, or to temporarily patch containers and spray tanks.
  • Absorbent materials such as kitty litter or sawdust–to absorb spilled liquids.
  • Extra hoses and hose clamps.
  • Plastic tarps or bags–to hold pesticide and contaminated materials during cleanup.
  • A shovel–to form a berm for containing spills and keeping pesticide from running into drainage areas.
  • Keep several empty drums or other containers on hand in case a sprayer tank needs to be drained.

Spill clean-up procedure

Follow this procedure if a spill occurs:

  1. Stop or sufficiently slow the leak to allow it to be contained.
  2. Mark the area to show its location and size. If the spill is not within a pesticide containment area (for example, a mixing/loading pad), contaminated soil generally will need to be removed. Depending upon how much there is, it may need to be stored for testing and later disposal.
  3. In a small spill, shoveling the contaminated material into heavy plastic bags may be sufficient. In a large spill, a loader or backhoe may be needed to remove contaminated dirt. Find out beforehand where such equipment is readily available. The sooner the spill is cleaned up, the less soil may need to be removed.

Source: Lee Townsend, University of Kentucky 

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