pesticide poisoning

Keeping Our Communities Safe from Pesticide Poisonings

By Jim Jones

You might remember hearing the tragic news in 2015 about a Delaware family vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands that had their lives changed forever when they were poisoned by a fumigant illegally applied in their rental complex.

… Or the Florida boy in 2016 who suffered brain damage after his home was fumigated with pesticides.

Each time we hear about such tragic cases of pesticide poisoning, the obvious question is, “how can we prevent this from happening again?”

To try to do just that, we took action this week to strengthen the standards for workers who apply certain pesticides called “restricted use pesticides.”  These pesticides require special handling and are not available for purchase or use by the general public.

If stronger standards had been in place incidents like these might have never happened in the first place. We need stricter standards and oversight to ensure pesticides are not misapplied so that our families are safe and are spared from the illnesses and pain caused by preventable exposure to pesticides.

EPA’s final rule raises the standard for peoples who buy and use restricted use pesticide by requiring:

  • New, specialized licensing for workers using certain application methods that can pose greater risks if not handled properly, such as fumigation and aerial application. This is in addition to general training and certification.
  • A minimum age requirement of 18 years old to be able to apply restricted use pesticides.
  • Re-certification at least every 5 years by taking training and/or passing an exam to make sure worker knowledge is up-to-date on applying them safety to protect themselves and the public.  Changes in labeling and application technology will also be covered.
  • First time annual safety training and increased oversight for persons working under the direct supervision of a certified applicator.  Workers will also learn how to reduce take-home pesticide exposure to protect their families.
  • Record-keeping for two years by the pesticide dealer of the product sold, the seller, and the certified applicator buying the product. The dealer must also get verification that the buyer is certified before selling the product.

Pesticides are often necessary to protect human health and the environment from a number of pests, such as rodents or mosquitos carrying disease or termites causing damage that could compromise the structural integrity of buildings. They are often necessary to produce a reliable, abundant and wholesome food supply.  EPA puts all pesticides through a rigorous evaluation before they can be bought and used safely in accordance with the label, and advises that they should be used as part of a comprehensive Integrated Pest Management approach.

Now, with the new, improved training and certification, those who apply “restricted use” pesticides will be more knowledgeable and equipped to use these pesticides safely.  Risks will be reduced for the individuals applying these pesticides in their jobs, for their families and communities and the environment.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Safe Use of Pesticides and Alternatives to Pesticides

By Alex Gorsky

Growing up, I spent a majority of my time playing outside. On the weekends, my parents would join me in their garden. Sometimes they would spray pesticides on the garden and tell my friends and me to stay away. They didn’t tell me then, but if you do get exposed to pesticides you can have headaches, dizziness, muscle twitching, weakness, and nausea. Long-term or excessive exposure has been linked to cancer and reproductive & central nervous system effects. In the United States, eight out of ten households use pesticides both inside and outside of their homes.

Grandparents play a key role in keeping children safe by placing pesticides out of reach. Emergency room surveys suggest that children are more likely to be poisoned while visiting their grandparents, since pesticides and other poisons are less likely to be out of reach or have child-resistant closures.
Pesticides are not just dangerous for children. While older adults only account for 2.8% of reported poisoning incidents, they account for 5.9% of all cases with moderate to major medical outcomes and 28% of deaths.

There are some easy ways to reduce your exposure to pesticide hazards. The best guide for safe use of pesticides is to read the label. The label will have instructions for proper use of the pesticide, as well as tell how long you should stay away from the area. Another way to easily protect yourself is by never using pesticide containers to store other things. Once a container is empty, give the container to your community’s disposal program. They can properly dispose of the hazardous waste. Furthermore, avoid treating entire floors, walls or ceilings, and avoid spraying where you prepare or store your food.

To avoid getting overexposed to pesticides, the EPA recommends using a pest management strategy called “integrated pest management” or (IPM). IPM combines non-chemical control strategies with less toxic pesticide to minimize the risk to human health and the environment. For example, you can use traps or baits instead of sprays to control pests. By doing this, you can control pests while not causing harm to humans or the environment.

About the author: Alex Gorsky is an intern in the Office of Public Engagement at the EPA. He is a senior at Beloit College majoring in Environmental Studies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone. EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog, nor does EPA endorse the opinions or positions expressed. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content. If you do make changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Bugs, Bugs, Bugs

By Lina Younes

I love the arrival of the smells, sounds, and sights of spring. New blooms, birds chirping, fresh smell of grass and early flowers, all beckon an awakening. However, there are some things that I am not particularly fond during the new season. I’ve never been one to like bugs. I know that bugs serve a function in the ecosystem. However, with the exception of pollinators like butterflies and bees, I wish bugs simply didn’t exist. I let them be in nature, but I definitely don’t like to see them anywhere inside my house!

No, I don’t believe in using pesticides as a preventive measure to keep bugs away. What is the best non-chemical way to keep your home bug-free? Integrated pest management! It’s easier than you think. Basically, don’t create an environment in your home that will be “friendly” towards bugs and other pests. Don’t give them anything to eat nor drink. Dirty dishes in the sink, soda spills left to dry on the table, or leftovers and crumbs left out in the open only serve as magnets to these unwanted creatures. Also, don’t provide them with plenty of shelter. Well, bugs and other pests just love messy stacks of papers and boxes because they offer plenty of hiding places. If you have pets, don’t leave food or water in their feeding bowls at night. This just attracts the attention of pests while you are fast asleep.

So, if you have created a non-friendly environment for these pests and they still decide to pay you a visit, please use pesticides appropriately by reading the label first. Simple steps will help you reduce your child’s chances of pesticide poisoning. Play it safe!

As always, will love to hear from you regarding the steps you’ve taken to keep your home bug-free.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as Acting Associate Director for Environmental Education. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone. EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog, nor does EPA endorse the opinions or positions expressed. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content. If you do make changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.