Pesticides belong to numerous chemical classes that vary greatly in their toxicity. The human health risk associated with pesticide use is related to both pesticide toxicity and level of exposure. Exposure to pesticides requires immediate attention, although specific care and treatment depends on the type of pesticide and the route of exposure. The pesticide label provides information on personal protective equipment (PPE) and first aid information specific to the product. Therefore, applicators should always read and follow the label before using a pesticide in addition to following standard safe practices.
Safety Data Sheets (SDS) (formerly Material Safety Data Sheets [MSDS]) also provide important information on hazardous chemicals. Using SDS in conjunction with the product label will provide not only a good description of the potential risks, but also appropriate and required exposure minimization measures that will help reduce any such risks.
For more information, see the following publications:
- Pesticide Information Leaflet No. 11: Practices for Safe Use. 2013. University of Maryland Extension.
- Pesticide Information Leaflet No. 28: How to Read a Pesticide Label. 2013. University of Maryland Extension.
- Pesticide Information Leaflet No. 29: How to Read a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). 2013. University of Maryland Extension.
- Pesticide Information Leaflet No. 46: First Aid for Pesticide Emergencies. 2013. University of Maryland Extension.
- Chapter 3 “Pesticide Labeling” of the Maryland Pesticide Applicator Core Manual.
- Chapter 5 “Pesticide Hazards and First Aid” of the Maryland Pesticide Applicator Core Manual.
Best Management Practices
- Select the least toxic pesticide with the lowest exposure potential.
- Read the pesticide label before mixing or applying a pesticide.
- Use appropriate PPE as per the pesticide label.
- Follow standard safe practices for the use of pesticides.
- In case of exposure, refer to the pesticide label for more information.