Safe pesticide storage is of critical importance in both everyday and disaster situations. Not only can improperly stored pesticides pose significant hazards to humans, but they can do great harm to the environment, including surface water and groundwater contamination. Combined with floodwaters, pesticides can create a widespread health problem by threatening drinking supplies.
For all of these reasons, take preventive measures to minimize storage quantities and potential exposure to floodwaters. Take extra precautions if you live in a floodplain or expect flooding. If flooding of pesticides occurs, be sure you follow safe, legal methods for emergency response, containment and clean-up.PREVENTION
If you suspect flooding of pesticide storage areas, use great caution in investigating the immediate area - floodwaters may be contaminated with pesticides. Wear appropriate protective clothing, particularly safety boots, to avoid exposure.
If a release of pesticides has occurred, you are required by the Wisconsin Spill Law to notify local and state authorities. Local authorities include your Local Emergency Planning Committee. You can meet state reporting requirements by calling the Wisconsin Division of Emergency Government Spill Hotline at (800) 943-0003. This hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The duty officer at the Spill Hotline or your LEPC can help you determine if federal notification is needed.
Emergency hotline personnel will gather information about the pesticide release and make response decisions. Emergency response professionals in your area will be notified to serve as the first responders to the flood site, as necessary. Some possible scenarios:
Take steps to prevent further release of the pesticides if possible and feasible. Put smaller containers that are leaking into larger containers. Wear protective clothing and equipment so you do not needlessly expose yourself to the material in the process of stopping the spill.
At the same time the leak is being controlled, contain the spill material to the area; if possible, construct a dam to prevent the chemical from spreading.WATCH FOR PESTICIDE POISONING
Be aware of any illness arising after handling pesticides or pesticide wastes. Acute symptoms of poisoning frequently include headache, nausea, diarrhea, visual disturbances, excessive salivation or sweating, difficulty in breathing, weakness, tremors or convulsions. Acute symptoms usually appear immediately or within a few hours after exposure. See a doctor immediately or contact your local poison control center if symptoms appear.
Your local emergency government office, the Wisconsin Division of Emergency Government, your county agricultural agent
UW-Extension publication "Pest Management Principles for the Private Applicator."
"SARA Fact Sheet for Farmers," available from the Wisconsin Division of Emergency Government.
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