The use of chemicals makes many of life’s little chores easier and more efficient. The price we pay for that ease and efficiency is the risk to our health and environment through the improper use of those chemicals. Here is a basic guide for the use of chemicals in your home garden.

Basic Steps for Safe Use of Insecticides and Fungicides
Before buying and before using any chemical, read the label carefully. Be sure the product you intend to use is labeled for the particular site you wish to apply it. Always follow the label instructions. The label is the final authority on how you may legally use any chemical.

• Look for cultural methods to control your problem before using chemicals.
• Make sure the weather is appropriate before application (rain, wind, temperatures).
• Always read the instructions on the label, even if you have used that chemical before.
• Never smoke or eat while using chemicals.
• Measure, don’t guess.
• Keep kids and pets away from the area to be sprayed.
• Use a separate sprayer for herbicides.
• Be sure to apply the chemicals to the affected areas only.
• Do not use chemicals that are no longer licensed for sale or application.
• Always store chemicals in the original container and avoid temperature extremes.
• Use the chemicals only on plants for which they are labeled and only at the recommended rates.

• Store chemicals in a safe, locked cabinet. Dispose of empty containers properly.
• Thoroughly rinse all watering cans, sprayers, hoses etc. when you have finished applying pesticides. Use rinse water as dilution make-up water and apply evenly on labeled plants or sites. Do not pour down drains.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Formulations
Dusts: They are quick and easy to apply and require no mixing. However they don’t always stick to the plants and are hard to target under the leaves, where many problems begin. They cannot be applied on windy days.

Concentrated Liquids: Concentrates allow you to cover large areas quickly and inexpensively. But they can drift if there is any wind and you risk the common problem of diluting improperly.

Wettable Powders: Inexpensive and stick to the plants. They are difficult to mix (often clogging sprayers) and settle to the bottom of the sprayer, causing inaccurate application rates unless stirred constantly. Ready-To-Use: Simple, quick, easy and always properly mixed. They are expensive if you need large amounts.

Granules: Easy and quick to apply with lawn spreader; heavy particles stay put. Need to be watered in to be effective and you risk birds/animals picking up granules that stay on the surface of the soil.

Pellets/Baits: Effective in attracting pests over a long period of time. However they can also attract/poison children, pets and wildlife and they often dissolve too quickly with rains and watering systems.

Pesticide Toxicity
The level of toxicity is identified on every label. Chemical toxicity varies according to body size and how a person is exposed. The level listed on a container is based on the greatest risk for that chemical for an average size adult danger The most hazardous of all ratings; less than a teaspoonful undiluted could be fatal; sometimes this is also labeled with the skull and crossbones poison symbol warning. Moderately toxic, mid-range rating; a teaspoon to a tablespoon of undiluted product can be fatal. Caution The lowest level of acute toxicity.

Three Ways Pesticides Enter the Body
Oral While this doesn’t sound likely, most oral exposures occur while trying to unclog a spray tip by blowing through it, failing to wash off pesticides before eating, and occasionally, actually drinking the chemicals when they have been stored or mixed in improper containers.

Dermal Exposure through the skin represents the vast majority of pesticide exposure. Even dusts and granules can be absorbed through the skin and the risk will depend on how much and where on your body you are exposed. Rates of absorption vary greatly for different parts of the body and continue as long as the chemical is on the skin. Compared to how fast a chemical would be absorbed by the skin on your forearm, your palm and feet are a little faster, your stomach and chest twice as fast, your scalp and forehead 4 times as fast, your ears are 5 times faster and your genitals more than 10 times faster. Be sure to wear protective clothing and rinse any exposed skin immediately.

Inhalation Exposure through breathing in vapors, fumes or dusts. This usually occurs when spraying in poorly ventilated areas or getting downwind as pesticides are applied. There is also a danger of breathing the smoke from burning pesticide containers or sprayed paints. Avoid handling or smoking cigarettes when working with pesticides.

Chronic Toxicity vs. Acute Toxicity
Toxicity is simwoulply any adverse effect from exposure to a chemical.
Acute Toxicity refers to the chemical doing damage after a single, short-term exposure to a relatively large amount of the chemical.The Danger, Warning and Caution signal words on containers reflect acute toxicity. Acute toxicity is expressed as LD50 (lethal dose for 50% of the test population). The lower the LD50, the more toxic the chemical.
Chronic Toxicity is the harmful effect of exposure to a chemical at lower levels over a longer period of time. Not enough is known about this and there is no label warnings required unless a specific problem has been identified.

We strongly urge you to take the precautions necessary to keep the chemicals from becoming toxic to you or those around you. If you have any questions, professionals at McShane’s Nursery and Landscape Supply would be more than happy to show you how to apply the chemical and use it in a safe way.

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