February is National Pesticide Safety Education Month

University of Missouri Extension

COLUMBIA, Mo. — University of Missouri Extension pesticide safety specialist Sam Polly encourages farmers and homeowners to observe National Pesticide Safety Education Month in February.

Polly and his team work to raise awareness for pesticide safety education and share best practices. In addition to providing training for agricultural workers across the state, Polly also works with youth groups such as 4-H and FFA.

In the past year, Polly and his team trained 5,738 adults to be pesticide applicators. He and other extension specialists talked to nearly 3,700 Missouri youths about how they can support pesticide safety.

In a press release, Polly said “Read the label every time you use a pesticide to ensure you are using the pesticide correctly. Pesticides are critical to agriculture, home pest control, food safety and human health. They play an important role in food production as well as in lawns and recreational settings. Proper use helps maintain pesticides as important tools in our pest-control toolbox.”

In addition to agricultural products, pesticides include common household products such as insect repellents, antimicrobials and disinfectants.

The Environmental Protection Agency offers these tips:

  • Store pesticides in their original containers with proper labels. Store in a separate, locked area out of direct sunlight. Avoid damp and freezing conditions. Hang warning signs on the outside of the building.
  • Use personal protective equipment such as respirators, gloves and chemical-resistant clothing when working with pesticides.
  • Store pesticides out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Follow label instructions. Use the amount specified on the label. Using more will not be more effective and may harm you and the environment.
  • Wash hands with soap and water after using a pesticide. Wash clothes that have been in contact with pesticides immediately and separately from other items.
  • Don’t let children and pets enter sprayed areas while they are still wet.
  • Keep pesticides away from food and dishes.
  • Use pesticides in a well-ventilated area.
  • Clean spills immediately. Keep materials such as activated charcoal, vermiculite, absorbent clay, pet litter, ground corncobs or sawdust at the storage site to soak up spills and leaks. Hydrated lime and sodium hypochlorite (chlorinated household bleach) can neutralize pesticides.
  • Dispose of unwanted pesticides at a hazardous waste collection site or event.

National Pesticide Safety Education Month recognizes the efforts of land-grant Pesticide Safety Education Programs such as MU Extension as they teach pesticide safety across the country. Through a cooperative agreement with the Extension Foundation, EPA supports the work of PSEPs to provide workshops and educational tools.

For more information, see the MU Extension publications “Pesticide Application Safety” at extension.missouri.edu/g1916 and “Pesticide Storage” at extension.missouri.edu/ipm1013.

A schedule of pesticide applicator trainings offered by MU Extension is available at muext.us/PAT.

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