Pesticides – always use carefully

Pesticides are used by many home gardeners and home owners. They are used outdoor and sometimes indoors. Used properly according to the product’s label, they can be a great help to home owners and gardeners. Before buying a pesticide, learn more about it and the pest it will control.

There are times that people don’t realize that the suffix, “cide” in the word “pesticide” means “To Kill.” The first part of the “pesticide” word tells what the target organism of the product is. So an insecticide targets insects while an herbicide targets plants. BUT, this does not mean it is not harmful to other living creatures, even those not in its target group. Many herbicides are toxic to mammals, birds, fish and as well as humans. The same is true on insecticides, fungicides and other pesticides.

There are “warning words” on every pesticide that will quickly give you an idea of its level of toxicity to people.

CAUTION

This means that the product is slightly toxic orally, dermally, or through inhalation, or it causes slight eye irritation.

WARNING

This means that the product is moderately toxic either orally, dermally, or through inhalation, or causes moderate eye and skin irritation.

AVISO, the Spanish word for WARNING, must also appear on the label.

DANGER

This means that the product is highly toxic by at least one route of entry into the body. Products with this Signal Word can cause severe eye damage or skin irritation.

DANGER -POISON

These words are always accompanied by a skull and crossbones symbol. This means that the product is highly toxic by any route of entry into the body. These products can cause death in very low doses.

PELIGRO, the Spanish word for DANGER must also appear on the label.

Besides the warnings, the label on the pesticide will list what the product can be used on, give mixing directions, first aid, storage and disposal of unused pesticide and protective equipment needed by the applicator. ALWAYS take time to read the whole label. Not only is it important to you, but your family, your pets, your neighbors and the environment we live in.

Ken Eraas is horticulture assistant with NDSU Extension Service/Ward County. He can be reached at kendell. eraas@ndsu.edu.

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