Pesticide Safety Education


A little known month acknowledging pesticide safety has just slipped by with little or no fanfare. It was the second annual National Pesticide Safety Education Month and it was held this February 2019. The purpose of this specially recognized month is “to reinforce core principles of safe handling and use and to raise awareness….Pesticide safety is a must, whether the applicator is an unlicensed homeowner or certified in one or more of the federal or state categories of use.” (WSSA)

Did you know?

Although you may have missed acknowledging the month (as I did), I thought it would be worthwhile to share a few things I found out about pesticide safety. For example, did you know the word pesticide actually refers to all substances used to control pests. “Pesticides are not just insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides sprayed on crops or pests. If you use insect repellents, ant baits, ‘weed and feed’ lawn products, pet flea collars, sulfur dust on your garden, disinfectant wipes, the list goes on…you are using a pesticide.” (Pesticide Environmental Stewardship)

According to the EPA, pesticide law defines a pesticide (with certain minor exceptions) as:

  • Any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest
  • Any substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant or desiccant
  • Any nitrogen stabilizer

National Pesticide Safety Education Month Webpage

Check out the National Pesticide Safety Education Month webpage to see how many of the twenty-four basic types of use. While you’re on the webpage, also check out the left-hand menu for a huge list of other pesticide safety education items.

The pesticide label is the best guide to using pesticides safely and effectively. The directions on the label are there primarily to help you achieve the pest control you desire with minimum risk. Both depend on following label directions and correctly using the pesticide. Photo courtesy of Pesticide Stewardship

For example, click on the link for basic pesticide safety principles or any of the links for safety information from the label.

Here’s also where you can learn how hazard, toxicity, exposure and risk management relate to the pesticide label. Or familiarize yourself with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standards and pesticide and Safety Data Sheets (SDSs).

There are pollinator and wildlife protection sections. Information about stewardship, and a list of federal statutes and laws as they relate to wildlife. And so much more.

So if you use pesticides, you might like to take some time to become familiar with the National Pesticide Safety Education webpage. So when you’re using pesticides for whatever reason, you’re armed with the facts about using them safely.

Note:  According to the National Pesticide Safety Education website, here are all the different types of people/entities that use pesticides. Who knew it would be such an extensive list?

county agents
gardeners, Master Gardeners, etc
other extension educators
government agencies
manufacturers of sprayers/nozzles/adjuvants/safety equipment
retailers [large format retailers, garden centers, farm supply, family businesses, etc]
pest management companies

nurseries, landscapers, landscape maintenance personnel
commodity groups
crop advisors
farm bureaus
food and feed producers
professional societies
golf courses
animal health groups
environmental protection and conservation groups
allied national/state associations/organizations that promote science


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