Using Pesticides Safely

garden vegetablesParkinson’s disease killed my father-in-law. It took a beautifully vibrant man and stole a little piece of his dignity every minute of every day for over 20 years. The latest studies link this hideous disease to pesticide use. We can believe it. Dad used pesticides freely and without reservation.


I trust that Natural Health Ezine readers do not coat their bodies with Off, spray their homes with Rid-A-Bug, or even rid their gardens of pests with Sevin dust. But what about organic pesticides? Even they come with dire warnings. The panel on the bag of Rotenone—an organic pesticide—reads, “Hazards to Humans and Domestic Animals CAUTION: Harmful if swallowed or inhaled. Causes moderate eye irritation. Avoid contact with eyes, clothing or breathing (spray mist). Remove contaminated clothing and wash clothing before reuse.”

Try Alternatives First.

I only use chemicals as a last resort. First I spend hours squishing worms and picking off beetles and dropping them into a cup of soapy water. One time the squash bugs were so bad that we used the vacuum cleaner and just sucked them up. Worked like a charm. But when our food supply is seriously threatened, I will feel compelled to pull out the big guns (organic, of course). And when I do, I take extra precautions.

Cover Your Bases.

  • Read and follow all label directions.
  • Never spray any chemicals near food, pet dishes, or water ways.
  • Make sure that your children—and their toys—are not in the vicinity.
  • Store all products out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Always store the product in its original container.
  • Choose the right product for the job.
  • Dispose of empty containers appropriately.

Dress Appropriately.

When handling any chemicals—organic or not—you want to protect yourself. No matter how hot it is outside wear long sleeves and pants, closed shoes, and non-absorbent gloves. Many chemicals are absorbed through the skin.

Wear a Mask.

The air is rarely still on our hilltop place. And though you will want to try to apply only when there is no wind, even the slightest breeze will blow the fine dusting powder or sprays all over you. If you do not have any paper dust masks, tie a bandana around your nose and mouth and tuck the point into the front of your shirt.

Wear Eye Protection.

Do not assume that your everyday eyeglasses are enough protection. Also, contact lenses can absorb and trap materials in the eyes. Safety goggles or a face shield is the preferred method of eye protection.

Clean Up Promptly.

Immediately after applying your chemicals, wash out any equipment used and store properly. Return any unused product to its original container and store in a safe place away from children and pets. Also, remember to remove your shoes and wash them with the hose before entering the house.

Undress Appropriately.

After taking care of the garden, don’t just take off the gloves and mask and go flop on the couch with a glass of iced tea. The chemical residues on your clothes will be spread onto your furniture. After applying anything harsh in the garden, take off your gloves and shoes and wash your hands in the hose. Then enter the house via the laundry room and drop your clothes and gloves right into the washer. Wash them separate from any other clothing. Go straight from there to the shower. Then, when a child wants to climb into your lap, you know it’s a safe place to be.

Photo by Shelley & Dave


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