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Ch. 6, pp. 19 - 21
[Application Equipment: equipment | using pesticides safely ]


Protective Clothing

If special protective clothing is required, the label will tell you the kind of protection to use. Pesticides sold in the home garden trade generally do not require special protective clothing. Many professionally used and highly toxic chemicals do. Anytime you handle pesticides, you should wear a long-sleeved shirt and long-legged trousers (or a coverall-type garment) and shoes. Additional protection is available by wearing unlined neoprene or rubber gloves, a wide-brimmed plastic hard hat that covers the back of the neck, and goggles or face shield to protect the eyes. Rubber gloves and goggles are particularly important when mixing or pouring pesticides. Toxic commercial pesticides may also require neoprene boots, chemical cartridge respirators, face masks, neoprene suit, or even gas masks. These more toxic chemicals should not be used in a home garden setting. After using any pesticide, wash your hands and arms thoroughly with soap and water. Never eat, drink, or smoke before washing your hands. If you have been doing a lot of spraying or dusting, remove your clothes, take a shower, and put on clean clothes. Clothing should be laundered separately from the family wash. The washer should be run empty with detergent after cleaning pesticide-contaminated clothing. If you get sprayed, change and shower immediately. Use first aid procedures if necessary.
Safety Precautions

Most pesticides can cause severe illness, or even death, if misused. But every registered pesticide can be used safely. Many accidental pesticide deaths are caused by eating or drinking the product, particularly by young children. Some applicators die or are injured when they breathe a pesticide vapor or get a pesticide on their skin. Pesticides can poison you in two ways. Acute poisoning, or toxicity measured by an LD50 number, can kill or injure you after one exposure. Chronic toxins, on the other hand, will not produce an effect until there have been a sufficient number of exposures. However, the number of exposures necessary to produce an effect varies with the kind of pesticide and the health and size of the person exposed. LD50 is not a measure for chronic toxicity. If an applicator uses organophosphate (diazinon, malathion) or carbamate (carbaryl, furadan) insecticides with any regularity, it would be wise to ask a physician about a test to check the cholinesterase level of the blood. These pesticides destroy this enzyme, which is necessary to carry nerve impulses to the brain. Although chronic toxicity is not poisonous immediately, over the long run it can be serious. Always use safety precautions and treat all pesticides with respect. To prevent accidents with pesticides, use and store pesticides away from children, keep pesticides in their original containers, and take care to always follow label directions.
Symptoms of Pesticide Poisoning

Awareness of the early symptoms and signs of pesticide poisoning is important. Unfortunately, all pesticide poisoning symptoms are not the same. Each chemical family (organophosphates, carbamates, chlorinated hydrocarbons, etc.) attacks the human body in a different way. Fumigants and solvents can make a person appear to be drunk. The symptoms are poor coordination, slurring of words, confusion, and sleepiness. Common pesticides like organophosphates and carbamates injure the nervous system. The symptoms develop in stages, usually occurring in this order:
Mild Poisoning or Early Symptoms of Acute Poisoning:
Fatigue, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, excessive sweating and salivation, nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps or diarrhea.
Moderate Poisoning or Early Symptoms of Acute Poisoning:
Unable to walk, weakness, chest discomfort, muscle twitches, constriction of pupil of the eye, earlier symptoms become more severe.
Severe or Acute Poisoning:
Unconsciousness, severe constriction of pupil of the eye, muscle twitches, convulsions, secretions from mouth and nose, breathing difficulty, death if not treated. Illness may occur a few hours after exposure. If symptoms start more than 12 hours after exposure to a pesticide, you probably have some other illness. Check with your physician to be sure.
First Aid Procedures

Read the "Statement of Practical Treatment" on each label. The directions listed can save lives. If a pesticide gets on the skin, remove the substance as quickly as possible. Remove all contaminated clothing. Prompt washing may prevent sickness even when the spill is very large. Detergents work better than soap in removing pesticides. Don’t forget the hair and fingernails. If a pesticide is inhaled, get to fresh air right away. Loosen all tight-fitting clothing. If needed, give artificial respiration immediately - do not stop until victim is breathing well or medical help arrives. Get the victim to a physician. Do not administer anything to a poison victim unless you are trained in first aid, otherwise you may compound the injury.
In case of poisoning, call a physician and give the following information: describe the victim by name, age, and sex, and identify yourself and your relationship to the victim. Have the package or poison in your hand and identify what the victim took and how much was taken. Keep calm - you have enough time to act - but don't delay unnecessarily. Poisoning information is also available by contacting the state poison control center at (800) 362-0101 or (520) 626-6016.
Chemical Safety References

EPA Hazardous Waste Hotline: 1-800-424-9346
EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline: 1-800-426-4791
National Pesticides Telecommunications Network 1-800-858-7378
National Agricultural Chemicals Association: 202-296-1585
Chemicals Referral Center: 1-800-262-8200
Chemtrec Emergency Hotline: 1-800-424-9300

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