By Roberta Tolan
Pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides and fungicides, can serve a useful purpose around the home and garden by reducing some of the problems we face in our home and landscapes. If not used according to label specifications, however, humans, pets, water supplies and other plants can be harmed.
Pesticide labels are the legal document located on the pesticide container that provides information concerning the safe and effective use of the chemical. The most valuable time spent in pest control is the time you take to read the label. Before you buy a pesticide, read the label to determine:
• Whether it is the right pesticide for the job.
• Whether the pesticide can be used safely under your application conditions.
• How much pesticide you should buy for the area you are treating and when to apply the pesticide.
The label is the law so read it thoroughly. The user of any pesticide is liable for all aspects of handling the product including but not limited to mixing, loading, application, spill control and disposal (including the container). Other information found on the label includes:
• First aid instructions. These outline what protective clothing to use and safety measures to follow, what can be mixed with the chemical, how much pesticide to use, the mixing process and the reentry time (how long to wait after application to reenter area).
• Name and address of manufacturer.
• EPA registration number. You can search the Pesticide Product Label System (PPLS) using the EPA pesticide product registration number at http://oaspub.epa.gov/pestlabl/ppls.home.
• Levels of toxicity. These indicate the toxicity and/or hazards associated with the use of the pesticide. Three signal words are used: “Danger”, “Warning” or “Caution”. The precautionary statement describes the hazards to the applicator, children, domestic animals, wildlife and the environment. If protective clothing and equipment are necessary, the precautionary statements will tell you. The label must list the active ingredient – the ingredient that actually kills or inhibits the pest. Inert ingredients, such as carriers or solvents, do not have to be specified, but their concentrations must be listed.
• Uses inconsistent with labeling: It is a violation of federal law to use any pesticide in a manner inconsistent with its labeling with only a few exceptions.
When using pesticides, do not do any of the following:
• Apply pesticide at a higher rate than is on the label.
• Remove the label.
• Put pesticide in another container or put another product in the original pesticide container.
• Store pesticide near children and/or pets.
Storing and disposal
Read the label to determine:
• Where and how to store.
• How to clean and dispose of the container.
• How to dispose of surplus pesticide.