Q. I am unsure about handling pesticides because feel I do not know enough about them.  What are some safety precautions I should take?

A.  Pesticide applications are just a part of the overall control of pests. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the taught method of control by Michigan State Extension Service and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  This method teaches you to utilize all available resources to control pest damage.  Included in these control measures are water management, proper fertilization, pruning, natural controls and lastly pesticides.  The key to a successful IPM program is to monitor the pest problem, determine what level of damage warrants action and using a combination of control methods to prevent the pest from causing extensive damage.

Pesticide application may be one of your choices of control.  Today there are more pesticide choices available even though some pesticides such as Diazionon and Dursban have been taken off the market.  The EPA favors pesticides that do not have a long residual life and have a narrow target of control.  Fewer beneficial insects are killed when pesticides are applied that have only selective control.

The first and most important thing to do before using a pesticide is to read the label.  Note mixing instructions, environmental hazards, application rates and safety instructions.  Before you mix and spray or spread, always wear protective gloves, safety eyewear as well as long sleeves, pants and a hat.  Do not eat or smoke when mixing or applying pesticides and avoid inhaling the chemical.  Determine which direction the wind is coming from so you can stand upwind while applying.  Pick up or cover any toys, pet food containers or food prior to application.  Water sources can be easily contaminated by overspray and run off so leave an untreated buffer zone around garden ponds, bird baths, streams and lakes.

Always try to mix only the amount you will be spraying and spray what is mixed accordingly to the directions.  Unused pesticides still in the original concentration can be returned to the original container.  It is hazardous to dump unused pesticides down the drain.  Avoid any mix-up by always storing pesticides in their original container with the label attached.  Triple rinse empty containers before discarding and spray equipment before storage.

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