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Pesticides and summertime safety

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Warm weather heralds the arrival of insects and the use of products to control them.

Pesticides are used in our homes, workplaces and communities.

"While pesticides are helpful, they must be used correctly to enjoy the benefits while limiting the dangers of their use," Indiana Poison Center Director Dr. James Mowry said.

Poisoning from pesticides can occur through contact with the skin or eyes, by inhalation or by ingestion.

Poisonings from these chemicals may be immediate or long term from repeated exposures. While there are many different types of pesticides, symptoms of exposure to commonly used pesticides may include skin, eye and lung irritation, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, salivation, muscle weakness, tremors and/or seizures.

Safety tips for using pesticides (Remember that pesticides come in many different forms, some of which may surprise you.) like Insect repellent sprays and lotions and citronella candles are also sources of pesticides, although usually at lower concentrations than commercial pesticide products designed to be sprayed directly on insects.

These products also should be treated carefully and kept out of the reach of children:

* Read the label carefully and follow the directions for mixing and use exactly as stated on the label.

Never guess at amounts or use a stronger concentration than recommended,

* Always use protective clothing (leather and canvas clothes are difficult to clean, so should be worn).

Wear gloves, long sleeves and long pants and goggles or a face shield. Remember to remove contact lenses since they can absorb pesticides and trap them in your eyes,

* Check your equipment with water first for leaking hoses, connections or dripping nozzles,

* When spraying outdoors, make sure all pets and people are out of that area and keep them away for the time recommended in the directions,

* When applying, check for wind movement. Apply only on days with no wind or a light breeze. Never spray upwind or on hot days to reduce the risk of vaporization,

* When spraying indoors, close all windows and turn off all ventilation, including air conditioning. Cover eating utensils, food, pet dishes, etc., to protect them from contamination and remove pets and people from the area. After spraying, keep the area closed for the amount of time specified on the label and then ventilate the area until the chemical has dried and the area is odor free.

Running the air conditioner is not ventilation, as it simply recirculates the same air -- you will need to open doors and windows and use electric fans to get fresh air into the area, and

* Once the project is completed, clean your equipment immediately. Don't remove your protective clothing until after cleaning is finished. Wash your skin with soap and water.

Remember to wash your protective clothing separate from other clothing to prevent cross-contamination.

If you use the washing machine to clean clothes, clean the machine well afterward, before using the machine to do other laundry.

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