Pesticide Safety Education Featured in February
Clyde Ogg, Pesticide Safety Extension Educator
Contributing Source: The Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Website
February is the second annual National Pesticide Safety Education Month, a reminder about the principles of safe pesticide use, no matter how large or small the amount.
For example, a $5 pet collar to control fleas may seem to have little in common with a $500,000 crop sprayer to control weeds; however, both use pesticides. Both require careful reading of the labels and following directions. Both require precautions to protect the handler, applicator, and target and non-target organisms.
Besides awareness about pesticide safety, February is a good time to support land-grant university Pesticide Safety Education Programs (PSEPs).
Now through April, Nebraska PSEP is involved with statewide restricted use pesticide (RUP) training, Crop Production Clinics, and the Nebraska Crop Management Conferences. Check out pested.unl.edu for PSEP schedules, videos, and information about health, safety, environmental protection, and integrated pest management (IPM).
A key IPM principle is that pesticides are just one item in the toolbox to help curb insects, weeds, disease, rodents, and other pests. Pesticides should not be the first line of defense. Sanitation and cleanliness, for example, go a long way to deter insects and other pests. IPM also includes cultural, biological, genetic as well as chemical methods to prevent unacceptable levels of pest damage.
Pet owners and agricultural applicators are just two examples of who may need pesticides to safely help manage pests to acceptable levels. Others include homeowners, ornamental and turf employees, and fumigators. Those involved with wildlife damage, water resources, and public roads also need pesticide safety education for pest management. EPA reports approximately 1 million RUP applicators nationwide. Nebraska has more than 30,200, with about 9,700 to be recertified in 2019.
Nebraska PSEP educates in the classroom and online, and collaborates with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to certify and license applicators for agricultural, commercial, residential, and public settings. PSEP safety education includes purchasing, transporting, calibrating and disposing of both product and containers. Pested.unl.edu has videos, social media and articles addressing all these topics.
Additionally, pesticide manufacturers and retailers are increasingly aware of product safety, as emphasized in labeling and must be followed. The label is the law. For example, utmost safety precautions need to be followed when pesticide applications occur in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes, which may be occupied during a pesticide application.
Helping protect non-target insects, plants, and human and animal life today is increasingly important. Pollinator and endangered species protection, for example, have increased label requirements and federal safety regulations. The result is that labels ― especially for RUPs ― are becoming longer and more detailed, but are all the more important to read and understand.
National Pesticide Safety Education Month is an initiative of the National Stakeholder Team for PSEP Funding. The team is comprised of 116 members from 98 agencies, universities, companies, organizations, and entities such as the Pesticide Environmental Stewardship that offers information from defining a pesticide to hiring a professional.