Pesticides are a valuable tool for protecting plants against insect, disease, and weed pests. They are most often used for lawns, gardens, trees, shrubs, and homes. However, improperly stored pesticides pose a potentially dangerous risk of accidental poisoning to children and pets. Also, incorrect disposal of leftover pesticides can become a source of contamination to rivers and lakes. This week we will look at the proper ways to store and dispose of pesticides.
The first step to proper pesticide storage begins in the garden center. Before you make a purchase be sure that you have identified the insect, disease, or weed you want to control and the correct pesticide labeled for that pest. The Christian County Extension Office can help you with identification and make recommendations for control. Many times, a cultural or mechanical control may be better at controlling a specific pest.
It makes good sense to know the best way to control a pest before making your purchase. If a pesticide is the best control option, purchase only what you will need to avoid having to store the reminder of the product. For example, I make several herbicide treatments to my lawn each year to control weeds so a larger container is justified, but since I seldom spray for insects I purchase a smaller amount or a one-time use product.
Proper storage is important for both synthetic and organic pesticides to maintain chemical effectiveness and protect human health and the environment. You can purchase or design a pesticide storage area provided it meets the following requirements:
– easy to lock
– properly lighted
– protected from temperature extremes that may alter or damage chemicals
– spacious enough to keep pesticides (i.e., herbicides, insecticides, fungicides) separated
– dry and protected from flooding and high humidity
– enclosed in a manner that spills can be contained
A locking cabinet makes a great storage area for homeowners. Stored pesticides should be kept in their original containers with the label attached. If a leaking container is found, put the whole container into a larger one and label the container or properly dispose of the chemical. It’s a good idea to write the date of purchase on containers so older materials can be used first. Common sense also dictates that pesticides not be stored near food, medicine, cleaning supplies, seed, animal feed or flammable materials. Routinely inspect your storage area for leaks.
Disposing of pesticides should be taken seriously as pesticides placed in sewer, storm drains, or in landfills can go directly into our water supply or into nearby lakes and streams used for recreation.
The label on the pesticide container should be your first source for information. Most pesticides available to homeowners are packaged in containers that when emptied can safely be disposed of in the trash. The empty container should be rinsed three times with water. Pour the rinse water into the sprayer and spray onto the target site or plant. Never pour pesticides, even diluted pesticides, down the drain. Clean the sprayer by flushing the inside with fresh water and spraying that water onto the target site. Wrap the pesticide container in newspaper and place it in the trash. Do not recycle or reuse a pesticide container as it will still contain pesticide residues even after rinsing.
To discourage reuse, puncture the container after rinsing. Bags of dry pesticides should be emptied completely, folded, and then placed in the trash. Again, refer to the label as this process is sometimes insufficient or unnecessary depending on the product. If you still have unwanted pesticide material in the container, share it with a gardening friend who can use it properly.
— Kelly Jackson, Christian County Extension Agent