In gardening terms, pesticides
would most commonly be considered those chemicals or materials used to
control insect pests on plants. In a broader sense, one would also add
fungicides and herbicides to the list.
|During the second half of the
20th Century, society became much more conscious
of the impact pesticides can have on individuals and the environment. In 1962,
Pennsylvania naturalist Rachel Carson authored the famous book
"Silent Spring" which succeeded in opening eyes to the risks
posed by insecticides, primarily the use of DDT.
The title referred
to a silent spring without the sound of birds singing. On the other side of the aisle, pesticide use advocates would quickly
remind you that without pesticides, food production yields could drop
40% while food and plant quality would suffer. Also, that insect-borne diseases like
malaria would be more severe without the use of pesticides.
Therefore, today's talk has evolved to 'thresholds' -- meaning what sort of
economic or aesthetic threshold is acceptable without applying
pesticides. In layman's terms, that
means how many brown spots on your front lawn are 'aesthetically
acceptable' or how much crop damage can a farmer sustain before it
crosses an 'economic threshold.'
The Middle Road
Public debate, university research and practical application have landed
us somewhere on the middle road with responsible pesticide usage. Instead of spray
first and ask questions later, it's become the norm to practice
Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
IPM has several basic tenets:
Is pesticide usage really
necessary, or is the level of damage acceptable?
Can satisfactory control be
achieved with products such as dormant oils or insecticidal
spraying is deemed necessary:
Identify the affected plant
Identify the pest
Use the least toxic
pesticide available that is labeled for control
Time the application to
when the insect is most vulnerable
Read and follow label
The most important thing an
individual can do before working with a pesticide is READ THE LABEL.
Be sure to read the ENTIRE label since it contains critical information concerning
the proper handling and use of the product.
pesticides out of the reach of children
use the same sprayer for weed control and insect control. Mark one
a low pressure regulator to help prevent spray "drift"
onto non-target areas.
applications in the cool of the day (early morning) when there is little to no wind.
when no rain is forecast for 24 hours unless the product calls for watering-in.
properly: Protect eyes and skin, wear approved chemical resistant gloves and boots, and wear an
approved respirator if possible
of the greatest risks is handling the concentrate, so wear approved gloves and be sure to protect your
eyes from splashing
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HIRING A PROFESSIONAL
plumber is usually the best choice for plumbing problems, just as a
professional applicator is usually the best choice for controlling pest problems.
They have the experience, training, and correct product to address your pest
problems. Homeowners often expose themselves and others to pesticide
poisoning by improper handling and use of pesticide products.
It seems commonplace to see a well-intentioned homeowner outside on a
Saturday morning in a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops spraying a tree
(and himself) with insecticide. One of the primary avenues of pesticide
poisoning is dermal exposure, not to mention how much he might be
inhaling and absorbing through his eyes...
More questions arise: Is he using the
right product, on the right plant, at the right time? Did he double the
recommended rate wrongly thinking that twice as much is better? Did he read the label? Is his child in the garage handling, or worse yet,
drinking the product while he's in the front yard spraying?
The #1 cause of pesticide poisoning in children is oral
exposure. Never transfer a pesticide from its original
packaging and never put a pesticide in an old beverage
pesticides out of the
reach of children!
applicators in Pennsylvania are required to hold a pesticide license
issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Under that
license, the applicator must carry certification in the proper
category. For example, a lawn care applicator must have Category 07
[Lawn & Turf] on his or her license, while a technician spraying
trees and shrubs must have Category 06 [Ornamental & Shade Tree]. In
addition to paying an annual license fee, these individuals must
complete pesticide update training every 3 years.
Who do you think is safer handling pesticides?
routes of pesticide poisoning:
Oral - mouth
Dermal - skin
Inhalation - lungs
contain 'signal words' that indicate one of three levels of toxicity.
These levels are based on the LD50
of a pesticide (the amount required to kill 50% of the animals in a test
Simply put, the three levels of toxicity are:
- the least toxic chemical pesticides.
- mid-level toxicity pesticides.
DANGER-POISON - the most toxic category of pesticides. Only
available for purchase and application by a licensed applicator.
recommended to use the LEAST TOXIC pesticide
available to treat your particular need.
individuals are "hypersensitive" to pesticides that cause
little to no reaction in other people. The State of Pennsylvania
sends a quarterly "Pesticide Hypersensitivity Registry" of
hypersensitive individuals to all commercial pesticide applicators in
the state. There is a mandatory process for commercial applicators
to provide advance notice to these individuals when an application is to
be made within 500 feet of their work, school or residence.
your doctor can medically certify that your name should appear on this
hypersensitivity registry list, contact:
Department of Agriculture (PDA)
Bureau of Plant Industry
2301 N. Cameron St.
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9408
Main Phone: (717) 772-5231
If someone in your family is hypersensitive to pesticides, it would also be a
good idea to personally notify your neighbors. While commercial applicators
are mailed a booklet several times a year listing registered individuals, neighbors
presently have no way of knowing unless someone tells them.
CHEMSWEEP - Safe disposal of pesticides
Pennsylvania has a program to help homeowners and businesses dispose of
old or unwanted pesticides. Various counties participate in the
CHEMSWEEP program each year, and it provides an excellent way to
protect our environment from hazardous or illegal dumping. Call (717)
772-5210 for more information.
This page attempted to cover the basics of a very complex subject and
the information may be incomplete. We are not responsible for any errors
REMEMBER: ALWAYS READ
FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS!
Common garden insects