Pesticide Safety

Ronda E. Hirnyck
Revised: 
March 2017

Always Read the Label

The single most important approach to pesticide safety is to read the pesticide label before each use and then follow the directions. If still in doubt after reading the label, contact a person qualified to help evaluate the hazard of the chemical and its use. Qualified people include extension specialists, county educators, pesticide product representatives, and retailers.

Pesticides are toxic and should be handled with care — but can be used safely if you follow recommended precautions. Follow all label requirements and strongly consider any recommendations for additional personal protective clothing and equipment. In addition to reading and following the label, other major factors in the safe and effective use of pesticides are the pesticide applicator’s qualifications, common sense, and positive attitude. Always take all safety precautions when using pesticides.

In case of accidents involving pesticides, see your doctor at once. It will help your doctor to know exactly which pesticide is involved. The label on the container gives this information. Take to the physician the pesticide label or information from the label, such as the product name, registration number of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), common name and percentage of active ingredient, and first aid instructions. If the label cannot be removed, take along the pesticide container (if not contaminated), but do not take it into the hospital or doctor’s office.