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Understanding Pesticide Safety - Basic community guidelines

Pesticides serve as an important component of crop protection schemes. Farmers are always
interested to control damaging living organisms before they interfere with the crop economics.  A
wide range of products including insecticides, herbicides and fungicides provides a time efficient
solution to control an array of pests. Pesticides are toxic chemicals and their use must be
precautious. The transport, storage and handling should be done following all the directions that
ensure personal and community health safety.
It is ethical, moral and legal responsibility to use the pesticide according to the health safety
standards. The shipment of the pesticides should not be carried along with edibles. Similarly, the
public transport option is also not feasible for its transportation. After transportation, the
pesticides should not be kept with the stored grains, fertilizers or any other chemical based
material vulnerable towards contamination of these chemical. It is also a good practice to place
containers away from the reach of children and non-professionals.
Global practice of utilizing protective clothing is recommended. It involves the use of long
sleeve shirts, goggles, turban, covered nose and mouth and close boots, which are much safer
compared to exposed body. Making the spraying mixture is also a very crucial step and it should
be done in an open space, after wearing proper protective clothing. Before spraying, make sure
that the tank does not have a leakage problem. Spraying time should preferably be early morning
or late evening. During spraying, discharge should be away from the sprayer’s body. After
spraying, wash the equipment away from the water channel. After the application of the
pesticides, it is good to avoid the entry of humans and domesticated animals in the field.
Avoid using the insecticides on the crops during the flowering phase as it is causing a consistent
decline in the population of the honey bees and other pollinators. Fish and domestic animals are
also equally vulnerable towards the pesticide exposure due to the runoff and residual toxicity.
Pesticides should be applied keeping in view the pre-harvest intervals of the crop. If the crop is
intended for export to other country, do check for the maximum residue levels (MRLs) practiced
in the importing country.
Pesticides may also cause the phytotoxicity reaction causing the injury to the crops. Limitations
are always there with respect to the stage of the crop, environmental conditions and dose of the
chemical. It may also be caused due to the expired chemicals. The overage chemical
formulations should not be used due to the unstable nature. The recommended interval should be
followed to avoid insecticide resistance development and residual build up in plant, soil and
It is unhealthy practice to smoke, eat or drink while using the pesticides as most of the toxic
reactions are induced due to inhalation and ingestion. The unsafe application of the pesticides
induces the biological reactions on the applicator or anyone who is exposed to the lethal dose.
The pesticide toxic reaction includes the difficulty in breathing, general body weakness or
fatigue, skin irritation reactions, itching in eyes, upset digestive system, headache, slurred
speech, unconsciousness, muscle twitching and restlessness.
An instant first aid treatment should be provided to the patient with pesticide poisoning. First,
take the patient away from the site of application. In case, the patient is failing to breath, it is a
good practice to give artificial respiration. If the patient has not swallowed the poison then mouth
to mouth resuscitation protocols should be followed. The eye irritation can be reduced by the
continuous splashes of cold water for almost five to seven minutes. Washing of the complete
body with soap is also recommended. If the patient vomits randomly then prevent the inhalation
by changing body posture. In case of sweating, cool the patient with sponging. Do not give any
juice, milk or drink except water.
On consumer level, it is advised to follow some safety guidelines too. It is recommended to wash
the vegetables and fruits before use to avoid any accidental pesticide poisoning. According to a
research by Centre for Science and Environment, washing vegetables and fruits with 2% salt
water removes toxic residues of pesticides. Green leafy vegetables especially spinach is high in
pesticide residues. Among fruits, apples are comparatively higher in pesticide residues. So, a
good washing is essential before the use of fruits and vegetables.
Safe use of pesticides ensure healthy and safe environment. Being an agricultural country, the
use of these chemicals is much common in Pakistan. The information about the safe handling
and usage should be spread to the village and urban community. Keeping in view all the
precautions mentioned, it is therefore concluded that the harmful and toxic action of pesticides
can be reduced by following safety guidelines.


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Comments On This Post

  • M.Usama Commented On 2016-08-29it is short but important overview of safe use of chemicals and helpful for our farmer is basic need but mostly neglected
  • Muhammad WaqasCommented On 2016-08-25Dear sir, very informative general article. Keep it up

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