Pesticides are chemicals designed to kill or repel living things that are considered by humans to be pests. Pesticides include insecticides, herbicides, rodenticides and fungicides. If not handled properly, pesticides can harm other organisms including pets, livestock, wildlife and people. Exposure to pesticides can occur through ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption. Physical responses to pesticide exposure depend on the pesticide, amount of exposure, and the age and over-all physical condition of the victim.

The following safe handling recommendations reduce the likelihood of accidental exposure.

Identify the specific pest to determine the proper treatment. Read the entire label before purchasing or using a pesticide. Purchase only the amount needed to control the specific pest. Make sure the pesticide is designated for use on the specific pest to be controlled. Follow label directions carefully for preparation and application of pesticides. Wear the protective clothing listed on the product label which may include long-sleeved shirt and pants, unlined rubber gloves, rubber footwear, hat and chemical splash goggles. An air-purifying respirator may be required if an inhalation hazard exists. Mix only the amount of pesticides needed. Mix pesticides outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Do not spray pesticides on a windy day.

Any clothing contaminated with pesticides should be washed separately from other laundry. First, rinse clothing outdoors with a hose or in a washing machine pre-soak. Use hot water (140 degrees Fahrenheit) to launder, a full water level setting, and the normal wash cycle. Contaminated clothing may need to be washed two or three times.

Line-dry the clothing to avoid contaminating the dryer. Heavily contaminated clothing should be discarded. Disposable protective clothing is available through safety equipment suppliers.

For more information contact Tate, agronomist for MU Extension at or at 660-895-5123. University of Missouri Extension programs are open to all.