Proper use of pesticides for food production, health protection

USA Environmental Protection AgencyThe EPA, recognizes February as National Month of Education on Pesticide Safety.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Teachers and educators on pesticide safety are urging people to take time this month to better understand the role of pesticides in our daily lives and how to use them properly, as pesticides can pose a potential hazard if misused, mishandled or improperly stored.

“During National Pesticide Safety Education Month, we need to reflect on the vital role that pesticides play in protecting our health and ensuring a stable diet, while recognizing that if pesticides are not used properly, pesticides can harm people and the environment.” said Mark. Matocha, Ph.D., pesticide safety education specialist AgriLife Extension, Brian College Station.

To assist in this effort, the EPA has expanded amount of available information including new resources and videos in Spanish, Matocha said.

Pesticides are regulated by the EPA and represent a broad category that applies to far more products than the average consumer can imagine. Everything from detergents and antimicrobials to herbicides and repellents are pesticides.

Pesticides and public perception

“Most often, the public is of the opinion that pesticides are dangerous and do not bring much benefit to society,” said Don Renchi, Ph.D., specialist in pesticide safety education at AgriLife Extension, head and coordinator of the Bryan-College Station program.

“The truth is that without the judicious use of pesticides, the things we take for granted in our daily lives would be much different,” he said. “Public water supply in the U.S. relies on pesticides to remove biological contaminants; mosquito control programs rely on pesticides to prevent the spread of disease; and pesticides are important to prevent the destruction of food pests. ”

University training on pesticides that allocates land

National Stakeholder Group to fund a pesticide safety education program was established in 2012 to strengthen and support the pesticide safety education program provided by the university, PSEP.

Close-up of a land storm storing pesticides in a wheat field
Ground installation used for pesticide application. (photo by Texas A&M AgriLife, Kay Ledbetter)

“These efforts began with the tireless work of a team of pesticide stakeholders led by Dr. Carol Somodi,” Ranchi said. “She and her team felt the need to pay attention to the role of pesticides in daily life, from protecting the foods we eat, to mitigating the effects of viruses such as COVID-19.”

EPA supports university land grant programs for the education and training of certified pesticide users in all 50 U.S. states and territories. PSEP provides training to pesticide providers on the safe use of pesticides with limited use in agricultural, commercial and residential settings.

As a land-allocating university, Texas A&M plays a key role in educating, informing, and serving all Texans. Part of the PSEP of this service is achieved through agriLife Extension faculty pesticide safety advocacy activities throughout the state.

Pesticides: not just for “pests”

When many people think of pesticides, they think of using them to eliminate unwanted insects and pests. But it’s not just mistakes, said Janet Hurley, a specialist in integrated pest management at AgriLife Extension, Dallas.

“Most people don’t think pesticide safety is something they need to take care of,” she said. “But they don’t realize that many chemicals are used every day for cleaning, disinfection and disinfection – especially after the advent of COVID-19 “All pesticides.”

Read the label, then read it again

Consumers have been encouraged to read food labels for years, but pesticide labels don’t pay as much attention to education, Hurley said.

“The label needs to be read,” she stressed. “It will tell you everything you need to know – the active ingredients, when protective equipment is needed, how much and how to use it, and the potential dangers.”

A woman in an Aggie T-shirt reads a label on a pesticide bottle
It is important to read the labels of all categories of pesticides, including detergents. (Photo by Texas A&M AgriLife)

She also said that it is necessary to read the label every time, as different brands and formulations may have different active ingredients and instructions for use. Following the instructions ensures that the product will be used in the safest and most efficient way. It also means that you use it in the most cost-effective way and do not waste the product.

“Take disinfectant wipes for example, no matter who makes them and what brand, you have to read the label,” Hurley said. “If you’re going to use one to wipe the countertop, this may be okay, but if you’re going to wipe a large area, you need to wear gloves. People should read the instructions and follow them. Not all of them have the same active ingredient. “

Pesticides: more doesn’t mean better

Using more product than its labeling will not make it more effective and may even be dangerous to humans and pets, she said.

Some common mistakes of home cleaning are the use of means indoors with poor ventilation. Some products used together can even cause a deadly chemical reaction.

“Most of these things people just keep under the sink in the kitchen or bathroom and don’t even think about making these things accessible to children or pets,” Hurley said.

She said that just as we want to know why we expose our bodies when it comes to the food we consume and the water we drink, the same is true for the chemicals we expose ourselves to. if using pesticides for cleaning, pest control or gardening.

“It’s not a case where more is better,” Hurley said. “To protect ourselves and the environment, we need to know, and it requires a certain level of self-education to know what you are using and how to use it.”

A useful educational website recommended by both Hurley and the EPA is this National Pesticide Information Center.

Indoor and outdoor security

When the weather warms up and people start to look forward to being outdoors more, Hurley said it’s important to remember best practices inside and out.

The EPA assesses the risks and benefits of all pesticides sold and distributed in the United States, and requires instructions on each pesticide label for safe use.

EPA best practices for pesticide information include:

  • Store pesticides in original containers with appropriate labels.
  • Keep pesticides out of the reach of children and pets, preferably closed.
  • Using the amount indicated on the label.
  • After using pesticides, wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Do not allow children and pets until they are dry.
  • Keep pesticides away from food and utensils.
  • Wash clothing that has been in contact with pesticides immediately and separately from other items.

Renchi said he would like to remind the public to remember that “it is important that pesticides are used in strict accordance with the instructions on their label, but it is equally important that the public understands that proper use of pesticides improves both quality and quality of life.” .

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