Pesticide use warrants safety precautions

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Being able to buy pesticides is just a matter of going to the store and finding the chemical with the picture of the bug you want dead. But, it can overshadow the fact that what kills them is equally harmful to us.

Most chemicals are harmful in specific doses, making it key to prevent or limit the amount of exposure to reduce health risks.

There are several ways to prevent adverse effects from chemical use such as not using them, reading the warning and direction labels on the package, or using protective equipment to prevent unnecessary physical contact. These measures should always be taken, because chemical exposure has been linked to many different medical conditions.

One of the simplest steps in limiting exposure to pesticides is not using them in the first place. Sanitation is a much more preferable measure in fighting pest infestations as it helps to prevent the pest from reoccurring as long as cleanness is maintained. Clothing or crumbs lying upon the floor provide means for the infestation to begin.

It's always good to remember the phrase, "Label is the law" if the problem persists and pesticides become a necessity. Any pesticide sold at a local store should include important information in its label, like the ingredient statement, whether it's general or restricted use (general for commercial use by the public while restricted only for certified applicators), "Registration and Establishment Numbers" (proof the product was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency), as well as emergency contact information in case of poisonings or spills.

Another statement that must be looked at is the storage and disposal statement. Storing the pesticide properly is always a must because of the risk of the chemical interaction with other items in the environment.

Directions are too important to overlook; they will include target pests as well as locations the chemical is most effective. The use of chemicals in outside areas could render the pesticide ineffective and result in unnecessary exposure for whatever else came into contact with the chemical. Overlooking the label might result in secondary poisoning of unintended targets, whether they are other insects, important or endangered species, or children.

Safety of others is always a concern, but whoever is applying the chemical must be aware of the risks as well and take measures to protect themselves against unnecessary exposure. Extra clothing helps provide an extra barrier in protecting the skin or eyes from coming into contact with the chemical. Allergic reactions that cause inflammation in the skin can always be protected with gloves or long sleeves, but safety glasses are to help protect chemical exposure in the eyes.
Apply the pesticide in a well ventilated room or avoid areas with a breeze to help prevent unintentional inhalation of the chemical. Spraying chemical into the wind or overhead in a room is not a good idea, and whenever spraying a pesticide, it is best to have it pointed away from the face.

Other chemicals, such as granulars or baits that are applied by hand, must never come into contact with eyes or mouth. The residual chemicals left behind by hand-placing pesticides should be washed away immediately.

Despite the harmful nature of such chemicals, the body has a way of accumulating them. After years of use, it can result in a plethora of chronic illnesses that could've been prevented by limiting the chemical exposure.