April showers are followed with a planting season. Chemicals are often used to ensure the production of food in our nation and other countries. Agricultural pesticides include herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. When working around agricultural pesticides precautions must be taken to avoid injury.

Pesticides can hurt you if they get in your eyes, on your skin or if you breath or swallow them. Signs of chemical exposure include headaches, dizziness, muscles pain and cramps, feeling tired, vomiting and sweaty skin. Pesticides and other chemicals exposures may occur during contact with plants, the soil, irrigation water, or the storage areas. Additionally chemicals may drift in the air from other locations.

Material safety data sheets (MSDS) should be available for each chemical used in the agricultural setting. The MSDS sheets provide information about proper handling when working with a particular substance, how to manage spills and first aid measures. Wear clothes that cover your skin when you work where there is a good possibility of pesticide exposure. Protective clothing may include chemical-resistant work gloves, footwear and coveralls, long pants and long-sleeved shirt, socks and shoes.


If a chemical gets on your skin wash it off right away with clean water. After rinsing the skin, clean the area with soap and water and change into clean clothes. For exposure to the eye(s), find an eye wash station or use a sink and irrigate the eye(s) with a gentle stream of cool, clean water for 15 minutes. See a health care provider if the eyes remain irritated.

If you or someone swallows a pesticide call the poison control center immediately. Follow their instructions immediately or follow instructions on the MSDS sheet. Wash your hands and face before and after eating, drinking, chewing gum or using the toilet. Never take pesticide containers or pesticides home. They are dangerous. Wash work clothes separate from the family laundry.

Storage of agricultural pesticides should be located down-hill and down-wind from homes and playgrounds, away from flood prone locations and water sources, and animals or their food sources. Children and animals should be kept away from the storage site. A weather-proof sign should clearly indicate that pesticide dangers are present. The storage unit should be kept locked and access limited to 2 or 3 responsible individuals informed about the pesticide storage. Limit pesticides stored to reduce the amount of pesticide exposure if an accident occurs.

In conclusion the two most basic considerations in pesticide storage is human and environmental safety.


-Kim Vickous, MSN, RN



Oregon Occupational Health and Safety Association. (n.d.). Safe practices when working around hazardous agricultural chemicals. Retrieved from http://www.cbs.state.or.us/osha/pdf/pubs/fact_sheets/fs23.pdf

United States Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Fertilizer and pesticide storage. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/oecaagct/ag101/pestfertilizer.html