April 28, 2000 | By: Haven Miller
LEXINGTON, KY.

Rainy weather and wet soil mean agricultural producers may be in a hurry to get work done in fields. But failure to take proper precautions when applying pesticides can have serious consequences.

"I recently heard about a farm dog, a family pet, that was fatally exposed to an agricultural chemical because his owner neglected to notice the dog following the planter up and down the rows for several hours," said Patty Lucas, University of Kentucky Integrated Pest Management Specialist headquartered at Princeton, KY.

According to Lucas, safety begins when producers select and purchase the pesticide or other chemical they intend to use.

"People need to read package labels carefully, and become knowledgeable about how a chemical might affect other plants or animals," Lucas said. "Often farmers might remember to protect themselves by wearing gloves or goggles, but forget to think about protecting other people or pets."

"You would especially want to avoid having small children or elderly family members close to where pesticides are being mixed or sprayed because they're particularly sensitive to adverse effects," said Lee Townsend, UK Extension Entomologist headquartered in Lexington. "For example, the farmer might take a lunch break and have sandwiches and drinks brought to the field, and children and pets might follow along. Droplets on machinery surfaces or spills on the ground can pose a hazard."

Townsend said certain basic procedures should always be followed, such as the applicator wearing a long sleeve shirt, boots & socks, and rubber gloves, and also washing hands before eating. He said certain chemicals will require even more precautions, and that's why following label directions is so important.

"Products that have a ‘warning' or ‘danger' signal word on the label need to be handled with extra care because the risk is even greater," he said.

Safety is the best reason for handling chemicals properly, but Townsend said there are additional benefits as well.

"If you follow good practices all the time you'll not only keep people and pets safe, but you'll also get better performance from the product and save yourself money by not wasting it," he said.

In addition to precautions mentioned above, Townsend suggested producers applying pesticides should shower at the end of the day and put on different clothes. The clothing worn during spraying should be laundered separately from other garments.

Contact: 

Lee Townsend (859)-257-7455