Gardening : Pesticides Bug Innocent Bystanders

Associated Press

Use a pesticide only if you can't control a pest in some other way. If you must use one, read the directions carefully. Make sure you understand the pesticide's dangers and know how to use it safely.

If possible, select an agent designed specifically to eliminate a certain pest. Avoid using so-called all-purpose pesticides.

They sometimes lack the one ingredient needed to kill a specific insect. In addition, general pesticides such as carbaryl (Sevin), chlorpyrifos, diazinon, malathion and methoxychlor may poison bees and other beneficial insects. Some also may harm earthworms, fish,birds, pets and even humans.

Store pesticides in their original containers. Putting a pesticide in a drinking cup or soda bottle creates a potential hazard as does using household utensils to measure or mix a pesticide. Don't use pesticides in areas where children or pets may be exposed. Keep a pressurized spray away from high heat or an open flame. It may explode.

Check a stored pesticide before using it. Lumps are signs of deterioration in dusts and powders. A concentrate that is to be diluted in water should blend quickly and easily with the water. If directions indicate a concentrate is to suspend in water, the pesticide should turn the water milky.

Applying Pesticides Outdoors

Spray pesticides on calm days after you have warned neighbors of your plans. Wear a waterproof hat and coat, and a face mask, especially when spraying a large area. Don't smoke, eat, drink or chew gum while spraying. When you're finished, keep people away from the area until the spray is dry and the odor has passed.

For localized pest problems, use a sprayer with a hose end and equipped with a valve to prevent flow back into the sprayer.

For trees or for medium to large gardens, use a slide-pump sprayer or a compressed air sprayer that is strong enough to drive through foliage and wet both sides of the leaves. Stop spraying when the liquid begins to drop from the leaves. Never use a high-pressure spray gun for pesticides.

Pesticide dusts are easy to apply in the garden, but they don't last long. They adhere best if applied while the morning dew is still on the leaves. And you must dust again after a rain.

Clean spraying equipment by rinsing it at least three times. Turn containers upside down to dry. Use separate equipment for pesticides and weed killers.

Applying Pesticides Indoors

A chemically treated pest strip should not be placed in a room with an infant, a pet or someone who is ill or elderly. Also, avoid hanging a pest strip in an area where food is prepared or people stay for prolonged periods.

Before spraying indoors, put all food away, and remove utensils, pets and their dishes. Wash tables and countertops afterward.

A spray that can be operated with a pump is usually better than a pressurized one because it releases less poison into the air.

Make sure adjoining areas are sealed off from the area in which you will use a fog-producing applicator. Keep everyone out of a treated room for at least 30 minutes after it has been sprayed.

Disposal and Spills

Wrap empty pesticide containers in thick layers of newspaper before discarding them. Exhaust all gas from pressurized containers before disposing of them. Don't dump pesticides in places where they can endanger fish or wildlife, or contaminate water. Many localities have special collection days for hazardous items such as pesticide containers.

In case of a spill, quickly remove splattered clothing and flush exposed skin with water. Wearing rubber gloves, use sand or sawdust to absorb as much liquid pesticide as possible, then scoop it into a metal container and dispose of it safely. Outdoors, flush the spill area with plenty of water. Indoors, increase ventilation to a maximum.

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