We use chemicals every day. They help us to live better and stay healthy. Yet, when used carelessly, even familiar chemicals can be dangerous. Each year about 200,000 accidental poisonings occur in the United States; of these, about 2,500 result in death. In Missouri there were approximately 14,000 reported cases treated at poison control centers during 1977.
KEEP CHEMICALS OUT OF REACH
Every one of these products can cause serious illness and even death, and children are usually the victims. Many children will eat or drink anything they can get in their hands. If it happens to be lye, bleach, pesticides, cleaning fluids, too many aspirin or any of the items listed above, the results can be tragic. Always store these products where children cannot reach them.
Home poisonings should never happen. The best prevention method is a locked storage space. If locked storage is impractical, keep poisons out of the reach of children. Many products are now sold in "childproof" packages as a result of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act. Ask for and use childproof packaging.
The disposal of pressurized spray containers requires special consideration. The contents may be poisonous (insecticides, pesticides), highly flammable (paint, lacquer, hair spray), or selectively damaging (hair spray in the eyes). When using any flammable substance, refrain from smoking or using open flames. Pressurized containers should never be disposed of by burning in a furnace or incinerator because they may explode at high temperatures. Follow the manufacturers label recommendations for safe disposal.
The use of pesticides demands caution and responsibility for effective results. Consider both the hazards of pesticides and the protective clothing you should wear when using pesticides.
Before a pesticide can harm you, it must be taken into your body. There are three ways toxic materials can be taken into the body:
|Table 1. Absorption rates compared to the forearm (1.0)|
|Body Part||Absorption rate|
|Ball of foot||1.6|
Using protective clothing can usually control the absorption of a chemical by the dermal and/or inhalation routes of entry. Pesticides pass through the skin on some areas of the body more quickly than on other areas (Table 1). You must be especially careful with your eyes. The back of the hands and wrists absorb more than the palms do. The armpits, back of the neck, groin and feet also take in pesticides easily. Cuts or scrapes allow pesticides to enter even more easily.
For general protection, a long-sleeved shirt and full length trousers are mandatory. All outer clothing should be made of a closely woven material. When working with concentrates or moderately to severely toxic substances, wear rubber gloves, boots, a rubber apron and/or a chemical cartridge respirator. Check the label to determine what personal protective equipment should be worn, and review MU publication G01917, Personal Protective Equipment for Working With Pesticides.
Once applicators have read the label and are properly protected, they should observe additional precautions during the application process. When homeowners are using chemicals, some special precautions are necessary both inside and outside the home. Always make sure the chemical you plan to use has been cleared for use in an enclosed area; follow any precautions listed on the label. Restrain pets, children and visitors from entering the sprayed area. The applicator should avoid inhaling chemical vapors, and adequate ventilation should be provided. Use common sense to avoid spraying near dishes, eating utensils and food.
When applying pesticides outdoors, the applicator should consider weather conditions. Loss of spray from a treated area decreases during low winds and high humidity. In Missouri these conditions are most prevalent before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
Avoid spraying near beehives, lakes, streams, pastures, houses, schools, playgrounds, hospitals or sensitive crops such as tomatoes whenever possible. If you must spray these areas, do not spray during low humidity or windy conditions; always spray downwind from the sensitive area.
Before spraying, check the label for re-entry and preharvest intervals. The re-entry interval is the elapsed time after a pesticide application before you can safely re-enter a sprayed area. The preharvest interval is the elapsed time between a pesticide application and harvest of a crop for consumption or canning.
To clean the sprayer, mix about 1/8 cup of detergent per gallon of water. Rinse the tank, hose and spray nozzle with the detergent solution. After rinsing with the detergent solution, flush the sprayer with an ammonia solution (1/2 cup household ammonia per quart of water), then flush thoroughly with clean water. Store the tank upside down to allow it to drain and dry out. Store the pump assembly separately to allow the tank to drain. To reduce rusting, periodically spray the inside of the tan with a light oil spray.
After equipment is cleaned and stored, it is important to sanitize clothing worn during the application process. Before the applicator removes his gloves, he or she should wash them thoroughly with detergent and water. These items should be rinsed, dried and stored in an area free from chemicals. It is important that contaminated protective clothing is not washed with usual family laundry. Wear clean clothing whenever you handle pesticides. If the pesticide is spilled directly on the clothing, flush large amounts of water over them before removing the clothes. This action will decrease skin contamination and dilute the chemical. Then take a bath and change into fresh clothes immediately. Beware of heavily contaminated clothing. Such clothes should be discarded because they probably will not come entirely clean. The applicator should always bathe thoroughly after applying or handling any pesticides.
Key words on labels may be used - "danger" for substances that are extremely flammable, corrosive or highly toxic, and "warning" or "caution" on substances that require care in storage or handling. Each label should carry information on the principal hazard or hazards that may be associated with the chemical - "causes burns", "flammable," "rapidly absorbed through the skin," "avoid contact with the skin and eyes," or "keep away from heat and open flame." The user should be familiar with the potential hazards of each material used around the home.
Keep all substances in their original containers. If it is necessary to transfer contents from the original container, attach the original label to the new container. Be sure to indicate on the new container the exact substance, trade name, concentration and any special directions regarding its use.
Never reuse any container that once held poison. Rinse it thoroughly and throw it away. Dispose of it properly where children cannot find and play with it.
FIRST AID MEASURES FOR POISONING
To assist in case of a poisoning, post the following list of phone numbers inside your medicine cabinet door and near your telephone.
Follow these steps in case of poisoning:
These recommendations were provided by the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
CHECKLIST FOR POISON PROOFING YOUR HOME
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Publication #: GO1918
This document is published by the University Extension, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211. Publication date: October 1993.
David E. Baker, Department of Agricultural Engineering, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211.
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More