Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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May 9, 2005

Safety Tips from the Local Emergency Planning Committee:

Use Pesticides Carefully this Spring

Before you turn over the first spade of dirt this spring, remember that a beautiful lawn or garden is not worth endangering your health. Too many people overlook the health risks of pesticide use and apply them carelessly in pursuit of a healthy looking lawn or garden.

Pesticides refer to insecticides, herbicides and fungicides that are designed to kill or control pest insects, weeds and fungal diseases. Many homeowners don't follow label directions when applying pesticides.

All pesticides are toxic to some degree. This means that they can pose some risk to you, your children, pets, and to any wildlife which ventures onto your lawn, especially if chemicals are overused or carelessly applied. Pesticides can also kill earthworms and other beneficial organisms, disrupting the ecological balance of your lawn.

In some cases, people don't have to use pesticides at all. Many pest and weed problems can be solved by choosing non-chemical alternatives. Keeping your lawn and garden weed-free can go a long way toward solving pest problems. Try hand-digging weeds with a spade. If pulled up by the root, certain weeds, such as dandelions, may not reappear until the next season.

Cultivating varieties and crops less susceptible to disease and insects is another option. Consult a local lawn and garden center for information on planting the right kind of lawn or garden for your climate and soil conditions.

When purchasing and applying pesticides, follow these guidelines from the Oswego County Local Emergency Planning Committee and the New York State Department of Health:

  • To address your specific problem, identify the pest and use a product that is labeled to control that specific pest.
  • Buy ready-to-use pesticides. They are less toxic than concentrates and eliminate the chance of exposure during mixing.
  • Read the product label before and after use, and follow all directions and the recommended safety precautions regarding mixing, application, storage and disposal.
  • When applying pesticides, wear protective clothing recommended on the product label, which may include chemical resistant gloves, safety goggles, long sleeves, pants and boots.
  • Avoid breathing pesticide dust, mists or vapors.
  • Do not use pesticides on windy days. The chemicals could blow back on your skin or be inhaled. They may also drift to unintended areas. Post signs on a newly treated lawn, and warn neighbors when pesticides have been applied.
  • Keep children and animals off treated areas until the areas are dry. Stay clear of the treated areas for the time prescribed on the pesticide label. If no specific recommendations are offered, it is a good rule of thumb to stay off the treated areas for 24 hours following a pesticide application.
  • Pesticides, along with all household toxic chemicals, should be stored away from children. Keep all pesticides in a locked cabinet in a well-ventilated utility area or garden shed.

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