By Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
February is National Pesticide Safety Education Month, a good reminder about the importance of safely and appropriately using pesticides like insect repellents, weed killers, and many household cleaning products.
Since pesticides are meant to keep pests away, we need to be careful when using them in and around our homes. EPA assesses the risks and benefits of all pesticides before we allow them to be sold or distributed in the United States, and EPA requires instructions on each pesticide label for how to use the pesticide safely.
One of the most important steps you can take to ensure pesticide safety at home is to only use pesticides when necessary. Pesticides are designed to address different problems, so one important approach is to consider integrated pest management. Under “IPM”, your pesticide choices are informed by an effective and environmentally-sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices, using pesticides only as needed.
If you do choose to use a pesticide, reading the pesticide label and following instructions is key. Even if you use the same pesticide often, be sure to read the label each time. This is important because EPA routinely re-evaluates pesticides to ensure they are safe and the instructions for safe use may have changed.
Here are a few other tips for using pesticides safely in and around your home:
- Use the amount specified on the label. Using more will not be more effective and may harm you, your loved ones and the environment.
- Keep pesticides away from food and dishes.
- Don’t let children and pets enter sprayed areas while they are still wet.
- Store pesticides out of the reach of children and pets, preferably locked up.
- Store pesticides in their original containers with proper labels.
- Wash hands with soap and water after using a pesticide.
- Wash clothes that have been in contact with pesticides immediately and separately from other items.
Tell us how you keep yourself safe when using a pesticide by sharing a photo or tip on our Twitter account @EPAChemSafety .
About the author: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.