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Pesticide emergencies


This number automatically connects you with a local Poison Control Center from anywhere in the United States.
    Tightening of the chest, mental confusion, blurred vision, rapid pulse, intense thirst, vomiting, convulsions, and unconsciousness are always serious symptoms! Dial 911!
    Pesticides with ‘DANGER’ or ‘DANGER/POISON’ on the product label can cause severe injuries or death very quickly, even with small exposures. Take immediate action!
    Other symptoms of pesticide poisoning: headache, fatigue, weakness, restlessness, nervousness, profuse sweating, tearing and drooling, nausea, diarrhea, or irritation of the skin/ eyes/nose/throat. Consult the product Material Data Safety Sheet (MSDS) for symptoms associated with a particular pesticide
Pesticide on Skin
       WASH, WASH, WASH! Immediately wash pesticide from skin as thoroughly as possible with any available water that does not contain pesticides.

       Quickly remove protective clothing and any contaminated clothing.
       Rewash contaminated skin with soap and water as soon as possible.
       If the victim experiences any symptom(s) of poisoning, get medical assistance immediately. Take the pesticide label with you, but do not contaminate vehicles or expose others if you must take the container with you.
Pesticide in Eyes
       Rinse eye(s) gently with clean water for at least 15 minutes. Be careful of water temperature.
       If eye remains irritated or vision is blurry after rinsing, get medical attention right away! Take the pesticide label with you.
Pesticide in Mouth or Swallowed
·      Provide / drink large amounts of water or milk to drink - Do not give liquids to a person who is unconscious or convulsing!
·      Consult the label BEFORE vomiting is induced – the label may advise against inducing vomiting. Do not induce vomiting with emulsifiable concentrate (E, EC) formulations.
·      Do not induce vomiting if a person is unconscious or is convulsing!
·      Seek medical attention. Take the pesticide label with you.
·      If the pesticide was not swallowed, rinse mouth thoroughly with clean water. If mouth is burned or irritated, consult a physician.
Pesticide Inhaled
·      Move victim to fresh air immediately!
·      Warn others in the area of the danger.
·      Loosen tight clothing.
·      Administer artificial respiration if necessary, but try to determine if the person also may have swallowed any pesticide - avoid any pesticide or vomit that may be around the victim's mouth.
·      Seek medical attention. Take the pesticide label with you.
Heat Stress
       Move the victim to a cooler area, remove protective clothing, and pour cool water over the person.
       Give cool liquids to drink – Do not give liquids to a person who is unconscious or convulsing!
       Pesticide poisoning may mimic heat illness! Get medical attention if the person is unconscious or if the person is not fully recovered within 15 minutes of cooling down and drinking liquids.
Signal Words
       The pesticide signal word will appear on the pesticide label. It provides information about the acute risks of the pesticide to people.
o   DANGER/POISON: Highly toxic-less than a teaspoon can kill an adult
o   DANGER: Highly toxic-pesticide can cause severe eye and/or skin injury
o   WARNING: Moderately toxic - two tablespoons or less can kill an adult.
o   CAUTION: Slightly toxic - an ounce or more is required to kill an adult.
       The signal word does not provide information about long term pesticide exposure risks (e.g., cancer) or allergic effects.
       Minimize your exposure to all pesticides.
       The signal word does not indicate environmental toxicity or other environmental effects.


Pesticide applicators, supervisors, and business owners may all face severe criminal and/or civil penalties if pesticides are misused – knowingly or accidentally.
The pesticide label. Federal and state laws require pesticide applicators to follow the directions on the pesticide label exactly. Do not exceed maximum label rates, apply a pesticide more frequently than stated on the label, or apply a pesticide to a site that is not indicated on the label. Labels change; review yours regularly.
Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP). These pesticides are clearly labeled “Restricted Use Pesticide” in a box at the top of the front label. Applicators purchasing, applying, or supervising the application of an RUP, must be certified or licensed through their state pesticide regulatory agency. Some states have mandatory licensing for certain pesticide use categories whether or not RUPs are applied.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Anyone handling or applying pesticides must wear the PPE stated on the pesticide label. The Worker Protection Standard requires applicators to wear the label required PPE and requires agricultural employers to supply the label PPE and ensure that the PPE is worn correctly by applicator employees. Do not wear PPE items longer than it has been designed to protect you. Clean, maintain and properly store PPE. Do not store PPE with pesticides.
Reentry Interval (REI). The period of time immediately following the application of a pesticide during which unprotected workers should not enter a field. Pre-Harvest Interval (PHI). The time between the last pesticide application and harvest of the treated crops.
EPA Worker Protection Standard (WPS; Growers who employ one or more non-family members must comply with the WPS. This standard requires agricultural employers to protect applicator employees and agricultural worker employees from pesticide exposure in the workplace by 1) providing specified pesticide safety training, 2) providing specific information about pesticide applications made on the agricultural operation, 3) providing and ensuring that applicators wear clean and properly maintained label required PPE, 4) providing decontamination facilities for potential pesticide and pesticide residue exposures, and 5) providing timely access to medical assistance in the event of a suspected pesticide exposure. These protections apply to both Restricted Use and general use pesticides used in agricultural plant production.
Pesticide Recordkeeping. You must keep records of all RUP applications for at least two years under the Federal (USDA) Pesticide Recordkeeping Requirement if your state does not have its own pesticide recordkeeping requirements. Some states require records be kept for longer than the federal requirement. Maintaining records of all pesticide applications, not just RUP applications, indefinitely, cannot only help troubleshoot application problems, but also allows you to reference successful applications and can help protect against future liability. Consult your local Extension Service for details.
Be prepared for emergencies. Store pesticides and clean empty containers securely. Develop and provide written plans and training to prepare your employees, and family members, for pesticide fires, spills, and other emergencies. Assign responsibilities to be carried out in the event of pesticide emergencies. Keep copies of the pesticide labels and MSDS away from the area where pesticides are stored. Provide copies of product MSDSs to your community first responders. Consult your local Extension office and insurance company for assistance.
Properly dispose of clean empty pesticide containers and unwanted pesticides as soon as possible. Containers can often be recycled in a pesticide container recycling program. Unwanted pesticides may pose a risk of human exposure and environmental harm if kept for long periods of time. Consult your local Extension office for assistance.


Information on pesticide use is available from the Pesticide Environmental Stewardship website ( including information on sprayer calibration, personal protective equipment, recordkeeping, and resistance management.


Insects, weeds, and disease-causing organisms are all capable of developing resistance to pesticides. To minimize the likelihood of resistance development against your material of choice:
1. Only use pesticides when necessary: When the damage caused by the pest you are controlling is greater than the cost of the pesticide and no other, effective options are available.
2. Use the appropriate material for the pest.
3. Use the recommended rate of the material. Do not use a lower rate than listed on the label.
4. If more than one treatment is needed when the same pest is present, rotate pesticide mode of action (MOA) between treatments.
FRAC/IRAC codes – These acronyms refer to industry-sponsored committees addressing resistance to crop protection materials; Fungicide Resistance and Insecticides Resistance Action Committees. Pesticides affect their target pest in a variety of ways, and the way a pesticide kills the target organism is called the mode of action (MoA). Although pesticides have different names and may have different active ingredients, they may have the same MoA. Over time, pests can become resistant to a pesticide, and typically this resistance applies to all pesticides with the same MoA. When rotating pesticides, it is important to select pesticides with different MoAs. The FRAC/IRAC have grouped crop protection materials into groups with shared MoAs and given them numerical designations, which appear on pesticide labels. The code UN means the MoA is unknown. When selecting pesticides, avoid successive applications of materials in the same MoA group to minimize potential resistance development. More information about this topic can be found at and

Before making insecticide applications, monitor insect populations to determine if treatment is needed. If an insecticide application is necessary:
  1. Use selective pesticides to reduce risk to pollinators and other non-target beneficial insects.
  2. Read and follow all pesticide label directions and precautions. The label is the Law! EPA now requires the addition of a “Protection of Pollinators” advisory box on certain pesticide labels. Look for the bee hazard icon in the "Directions for Use" and within crop specific sections for instructions to protect bees and other insect pollinators.
  3. Minimize infield exposure of bees to pesticides by avoiding applications when bees are actively foraging in the crops. Bee flower visitation rate is highest in the early morning. Apply pesticides in the late afternoon or early evening to allow for maximum residue degradation before bees return the next morning. Bee foraging activity is also dependent upon time of year (temperature) and stage of crop growth. The greatest risk of bee exposure is during bloom.
  4. Minimize off-target movement of pesticide applications by following label directions to minimize off-target movement of pesticides. Do not make pesticide applications when the wind is blowing towards beehives or off-site pollinator habitats.

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