pesticide poisoning

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 here 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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

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 here 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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.