Illinois Pesticide Review
In This Issue
Hazards of Hand Sanitizers and Soaps
One type of pesticide we often don't even think of as being a pesticide is the antimicrobials found commonly in hand soaps and sanitizers. These have come to be commonplace in homes, schools, daycare settings, and shopping areas. In fact, it has become a challenge to buy hand soap that is not antibacterial. In addition, hand sanitizers are now commonly found in many a diaper bag and mother's purse. I haven't been a mother very long, and maybe I'm not a very good one; but I have yet to jump on this trend. I don't consider myself to be a germophobe, and I've read that the widespread use of antimicrobial products has many people concerned about potential resistance to antiseptics. So I don't carry hand sanitizer with me. In my opinion, what can a little exposure to bacteria hurt now and then? Yes, I've been known to apply the 10-second rule to dropped food. No, I haven't died yet.
Recently, I was forwarded an email warning from another mother alerting me to the dangers of poisoning from ingesting hand sanitizer. My first response was that is must be an Internet hoax. Who would be tempted to drink hand sanitizer, and how poisonous could it be?
So, I checked it out on www.snopes.com, a Web site that specializes in debunking Internet myths. Sure enough, it was there at http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/sanitizer.asp. The claim is that ingestion of hand sanitizer by children can result in alcohol poisoning, and the status is true. Their Web site features the stories of two girls ages 2 and 4 who independently ingested small amounts of hand sanitizer. Medical treatment was required. Fortunately, neither instance resulted in death or serious injury. The sick girls were described as being glassy-eyed, wobbly, severely lethargic, and incoherent, with slurred speech. They had the symptoms of someone who was drunk because, indeed, they were. Hand sanitizers contain a high percentage of alcohol. For example, Purell and Germ-X contain 62% ethyl alcohol. The result of ingesting these products would be similar to that of ingesting 120-proof hard liquor. According to Heidi Kuhl, a health educator at the Central New York Poison Control Center, ingesting as little as an ounce or two can be fatal to a toddler. However, other medical technicians contend that for alcohol toxicity to result, one would have to ingest more than the usual amount used for sanitizing hands. But when young children are helping themselves, the amount may be quite a bit more than what is recommended.
But how and why would a child ingest hand sanitizer? With one of the girls just mentioned, the hand sanitizer had been squirted into her hand by a teacher; and she licked it up. The other girl found it in her home bathroom and helped herself. Perhaps they were drawn to it by the sweet floral scent. Children are curious creatures; and when they are young, everything goes in the mouth.
These incidents serve as a reminder to keep hazardous chemicals up and out of reach of children. Be sure not to overlook those products that may be commonplace yet are still chemicals. Familiarity breeds complacency. Many don't think of hand sanitizers as potential dangers because they are rubbed onto the skin much like hand lotion is. Like lotion, they are often stored in easily accessible locations within reach of little hands.
I remember seeing a soap dispenser by a sink in a hotel bathroom once that read the old familiar drug and pesticide label warning KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN. I found the irony humorous. It was soap! We tell our kids to wash with soap, yet this soap was off limits for kids. I trust the soap contained some antibacterial agent, so the warning was warranted.
Upon investigating a foaming hand wash bottle under my own kitchen sink, I found those same words on the back label. However, this time the warning read, "Keep out of reach of children, except under adult supervision." Now that makes more sense. It's an antibacterial containing 0.6% triclosan. The label directs that if the product is swallowed, one should get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away. Unfortunately, the label warning is listed on the refill bottle and not on the pump dispenser. Also, how many people actually read the hand soap label? Hopefully, it is more than I suspect. More importantly, how many parents supervise their children's hand washing every time?
On a lighter note, while writing this I can't help but think of the scene in the classic movie A Christmas Story, in which Ralphie claimed he was blinded by soap poisoning after his parents put soap in his mouth for bad language. Perhaps Ralphie was onto something.
Please help keep kids safe by keeping dangerous products up out of their reach. Also, read those labels! You may be surprised at what you find. Finally, we have to remember, it's the dose that makes the poison no matter how safe we think the agent is.For more information on hand sanitizers and antibacterial soaps and for their use recommendations, check out Elaine Larson's article, "Hygiene of the Skin: When Is Clean Too Clean?" on the Center for Disease Control's Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol7no2/larson.htm.
(Michelle Wiesbrook, Source: http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/sanitizer.asp, accessed on 7/22/07.)
Field Guide to Herbicide Injury on Landscape Plants
Distinguishing herbicide injury from other causes of abnormalities on landscape plants can be challenging. With the Field Guide to Herbicide Injury on Landscape Plants, you'll have in your pocket the details you need to troubleshoot and diagnose herbicide-injury problems. This extensive guide presents over 200 color photographs of several herbicide families, with images of vegetables, annuals, and herbaceous and woody perennials. Diseases and environmental conditions that may show similar symptoms are also highlighted in the key.
This 112-page, color-coded field guide will make your diagnosis more accurate and efficient. It is available for $10 and can be ordered by emailing Kris Ritter at email@example.com.
(Dawn Nordby, Michelle Wiesbrook, and Scott Bretthauer, Extension Specialists, University of Illinois)
School IPM Implementation
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) has gained acceptance as the proper method of control of insect pests, weeds, diseases, rodents, and other pests since it was first implemented in the 1960s. From early use on field crops and forestry, the methods have been adapted for most pest situations. IPM utilizes a variety of cultural, mechanical, biological, and chemical methods to ecologically manage pest populations. The use and evaluation of these methods are based on scouting as a means of determining relative pest population levels and their associated damage potential.
Illinois state statutes required that public school districts utilize IPM in indoor (structural) and outdoor (landscape) pest control by August 1, 2000, or inform the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) of financial or other situations that prevented IPM adoption. School districts must also notify interested parents or guardians before non-bait pesticides are applied.
A survey was made of the Illinois public school districts to determine their adoption of IPM. Questionnaires were mailed on November 27, 2006, and were completed by 62.3% of the 875 districts in the state. There was an adequate representation of responses, based on school enrollment, type, and distribution through the state.
Pest Management Personnel
Most school districts utilize professional pest-control operators as pest-management providers. Over half use their custodial and maintenance employees. This may represent a division of labor, depending on the situation. Many pest-management methods relate to proper building maintenance, such as caulking cracks and crevices, ensuring tight door thresholds, and cleanup of food and other spillage. Outdoors, physical weed removal, proper mowing, and pruning of trees and shrubs are all pest-management methods commonly practiced by custodial and maintenance personnel. In addition, small pest infestations may be addressed with the use of baits or other insecticides by these personnel without the involvement of professional pest-management companies. Teachers and other support staff were involved in pest control in a relatively small number of school districts (13.4%). Pests were not controlled in only 5% of school districts.
Scouting is an important part of an integrated pest management program. Determining pest occurrence and pest numbers is vital in tailoring pest-management response directly to the situation, rather than relying on calendar date or intermittent control based on little or no pest-occurrence information.
Sticky traps are very useful in determining the presence, as well as relative abundance, of indoor pests. Their use is a clear indication of IPM being practiced. It is encouraging that about two-thirds of the school districts are using them. Because sticky traps do catch and remove individual pests, some of the reported use may have been primarily as a control method. However, even that use represents mechanical control and is part of an IPM program. In addition, when the traps are used as a control method, the presence and relative amount of trap catch still constitute a form of pest monitoring.
Individual reports of pest sightings are recommended in an IPM program. They are a form of scouting but are typically biased towards the sites commonly frequented by occupants. They not only provide knowledge of areas in need of pest control, but also their presence or absence after control efforts have been conducted provides feedback on control effectiveness. Over one-third of the districts used forms that provide written documentation of an IPM program's challenges and effectiveness. Over three-quarters of the districts utilized verbal pest-sighting reports.
Structural Pest Control
Ants have been shown in several reports, including calls to Extension offices, to be the most common pest problem in buildings. This makes them an excellent pest for IPM query, as almost all schools should experience problems with them. In fact, only 2.7% of the districts reported that they do not control ants. In addition, ants can be controlled through a variety of chemical and nonchemical methods.
Insecticide sprays were used by about two-fifths of the districts outdoors, with about the same portion using them indoors. A similar proportion used interior baiting, probably the most effective method of control utilizing insecticides. Only one-fifth used exterior baits. About half of the school districts used at least one of the nonchemical options provided, crack-and-crevice closure or food sanitation.
Important to this survey was determining the number of school districts that were using only insecticide sprays to control ants, that is, not using insecticidal baits or nonchemical control methods. Exterior insecticide spraying only was used by 10.1%; interior crack, crevice, and baseboard application only was reported by 4.0%; and 13.6% used only exterior and interior non-bait insecticide applications. The sum of these indicates that 27.7% were only using non-bait insecticide applications to control ants associated with buildings.
Invading insect and related pests other than ants are also a common pest problem in buildings. Field crickets, multicolored Asian lady beetles, ground beetles, wolf spiders, other ground spiders, and many other insects and insect relatives enter buildings at various times of the year. Indoor and outdoor insecticide sprays are effective, but the control that they provide is temporary, typically lasting only a few weeks. There are no baits available for most of these insects. A more permanent solution involves caulking cracks and crevices in foundations, around windows, and along edges of buildings. Avoiding dead organic matter, such as fallen leaves and bark mulch, along the outside foundation is also useful. This decaying organic matter provides moisture, food, and shelter for many of these pests and a source of insect and similar prey for others. This results in numerous invading pests next to the foundation, making it more likely that some find their way indoors.
About two-fifths of the school districts used exterior insecticide spraying to control invading pests. About the same percentage used insecticides indoors as crack-and-crevice or baseboard applications. Exterior insecticide spraying was the only method used by 12.1% of respondents, with only 4.0% using only interior insecticide applications. However, 15.7% of respondents used both exterior and interior insecticide applications without using other, nonchemical, methods. In total, 31.8% of school districts reported using only insecticide applications to control invading pests.
Nonchemical methods to control invading pests were used by a majority of the respondents. Over 60% physically removed pests through sweeping or vacuuming, and about one-third physically removed pests individually. Mechanical control was used by almost half, by caulking or screening cracks and crevices to keep out invading pests. Maintaining tight doors was a mechanical control method used by about half of the respondents to keep out pests.
Yellowjackets are yellow and black, one-half-inch-long wasps that are commonly referred to as bees by the public. Unlike honey bees, individual yellowjackets sting with little provocation and sting repeatedly. In addition to the pain and swelling caused by stings, a small proportion of the human population is unusually sensitive to insect stings, being at risk of dying from anaphylactic shock from a single sting. Yellowjackets are most numerous and most likely to sting from mid-August through early fall. This coincides with the portion of the school year when temperatures are high enough that school buildings without air conditioning typically have the windows open for ventilation. Schools, hospitals, and other public buildings in the United States tend to not have window screens, making it easy for yellowjackets to enter.
The survey shows that almost two-thirds of Illinois public schools have invested in window screens. About the same percentage keeps windows and doors closed as much as possible. Many of these are likely to have air conditioning. It is encouraging to see this form of mechanical control used to such a large extent.
In the fall, when numbers are high and their nectar food source from flowers is dwindling, yellowjackets visit garbage dumpsters and similar locations in high numbers, seeking sweet liquids such as soda pop, lemonade, and fruit juice. Almost 60% of school districts keep dumpsters away from open school windows. Similarly, self-closing outdoor trash cans help reduce the number of yellowjackets around the school, and one-fifth of the districts utilize them.
Although about one-third of school districts treat yellowjacket nests with insecticide, only 2.9% provided only that response. Based on the responses to this question, IPM is used to a large extent by Illinois public school districts to manage their yellowjacket problems.
Landscape Pest Control
The use of herbicides, weed killers, is a very popular method of weed control in landscapes throughout Illinois, as well as the rest of the United States. Although their use has come under attack to the point of restrictions on their use in some municipalities and public areas, they are still widely used. They are commonly marketed with fertilizer, resulting in some overlooking the presence of herbicide in the mixture.
About one-half of school districts apply weed-and-feed products containing both herbicide and fertilizer to turf areas. About the same number utilizes spot-
herbicide spraying of weeds. Many of these applications are likely used to eliminate weeds in sidewalk cracks and parking areas. About one-fifth spray large areas of turf to control weeds.
Even though hand-weeding or hoeing is very labor intensive, well over one-third of the school districts use this option. About 12% did not use any weed control. Particularly in turf areas, mowing provides an acceptable, even plant cover, even when many weeds are present.
Insect pests and diseases detract from the aesthetic appearance of turf, as well as many trees, shrubs, and other ornamental plants. However, many of these pests are not threats to the long-term health and survival of the plants. Reduced or no control of these pests is a viable option, particularly when the damage is not very obvious. Over one-fourth of the respondents do not control insects and diseases in their landscapes.
About one-fourth of school districts apply insecticides to control white grubs on turf. Less than one-fifth apply pesticides to trees and shrubs. Similarly, 17.8% only use pesticides to control insects and/or diseases on turf, trees, and shrubs.
Dying branches on trees and shrubs provide a source of insect pests and diseases to attack healthier plants. Almost 60% of school districts physically control these pests through pruning out dying branches. Physical control is also used by over one-third of the respondents, by pruning out infested plant parts. Hand-removal of insect pests, used by only 6%, is another form of physical control.
An excellent cultural control of white grubs is to make turf areas less susceptible to attack by adult egg-laying beetles through avoiding summer irrigation. However, less than 10% utilized this option. Late-summer football and soccer practice–combined with the need to have lush, green turf for game play in the fall–cause many school turf managers to maintain high-quality turf through the summer in order to have the fields available when needed.
Insecticide Use Notification and Summary
About 60% of school districts notify parents and guardians about non-bait pesticide applications through newsletters and similar methods. About 20% utilize phone calls or take-home notes for notification of individual applications. About 15% have informed parents of their right to notification but have not received any requests for notification.
Based on these data, about two-thirds of Illinois public school districts use IPM methods, including scouting and multiple control measures for structural pests. However, about half rely on herbicides for landscape weed control, and about 60% use nonchemical methods for landscape insect and disease control. At least three-fourths of the school districts are adhering to pesticide-use notification statutes. The entire report of this survey can be found on the University of Illinois IPM Web site located at http://www.ipm.uiuc.edu/.
(Phil Nixon and Charles Clark)
When Jar Tests Result in Failure
Pesticide applicators often use the practice of tank-mixing, mixing two or more pesticides, to save time and labor, as well as to reduce equipment and application costs. Mixtures may also be used to control a broader range of pests. Sometimes, mixing two products may result in synergism, in which control is greater than if the products were applied independently. Alternatively, antagonism may result, in which effectiveness is decreased.
By law, you can mix any pesticide products together as long as the pesticide labels for the products you are mixing do not strictly prohibit their mixing. This applies to adjuvants and carriers as well. Often, pesticide labels list products (pesticides or pesticide–fertilizer combinations) that may be successfully tank-mixed. The product manufacturer's technical staff may also be able to provide the names of additional products they have tested and know to be safe to mix. Of course, a standard jar test can also be performed when you are unsure of the physical compatability of two or more pesticides. Unfortunately, a jar test does not predict antagonism or synergism.
Some pesticides are physically incompatible, meaning that they won't mix. Solids may settle out, or the mixture may separate out into layers after agitation has been applied. The mixture may gel, curdle, or become sludgelike. In short, they don't play nicely together. Possible causes include improper mixing, inadequate agitation, or even the lack of stable emulsifiers in some emulsifiable concentrate (EC) formulations. ECs and WPs (wettable-powder formulations) can result in quite a mess when they are mixed improperly–putty or paste with an oily layer that floats on top of the tank. In addition, ECs are often incompatible with liquid fertilizers. It's recommended that you read and follow label directions for the proper mixing order. The order can make a big difference.
Most find that it's much easier to test for physical compatability using something much smaller than a spray tank. How do you easily clean a 300-gallon tank that is filled with a puttylike substance? Enter the standard jar test. The pesticide "recipe" is scaled down to fit a small jar, perhaps an old mayonnaise or Mason jar. Whatever you use, be sure to never add food or drink to it again so that you prevent poisoning.
If your jar test results in a successful mixture, you can proceed with mixing, using your spray tank. But what should you do when your jar test results in a failed mixture? It's difficult and maybe impossible to push something that looks like floating cottage cheese or wet Play-Doh through a spray nozzle. How do you properly dispose of pesticide globs that can't be sprayed? Recently, pesticide safety educators from across this nation and pesticide manufacturers were polled; and together, they came up with the following recommended options:
- Utilize as best as possible on the intended target.
- Neutralize the material; then spread it out on fallow ground or on the target site (activated charcoal may be used).
- Dispose of the product as you would a home-owner product (wrap in several layers of newspaper and dispose of it in the trash for burial in a landfill).
- Check with your county Extension adviser to see if they have a pesticide waste-collection day. (For more information, check with the Illinois Department of Agriculture or Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, or read the article "Disposing of Household Hazardous Waste" in the March 2007 issue of the Illinois Pesticide Review.)
- Contact a hazardous-waste group to take care of it.
More New Nozzles
Two new nozzle designs from Spraying Systems may be of interest to applicators (for a review of some other recent nozzle designs by Spraying Systems, Hypro, Delavan, and CP Products, see the November 2005 issue of Illinois Pesticide Review). The first new nozzle is the Turbo TwinJet, a single-nozzle tip with two exit orifices. It creates two individual 110-degree flat-fan spray patterns. As opposed to a single spray pattern pointed straight down, with the Turbo TwinJet, one of the patterns is angled 30 degrees forward in the direction of travel; and the other is angled 30 degrees backward, creating a 60 degree angle between the two flat-fan patterns. The Turbo TwinJet uses a pre-orifice and turbulence chamber to reduce the formation of small spray droplets, the same technology used in the standard Turbo TeeJet nozzle.
The Turbo TwinJet is designed to be operated at pressures between 20 and 90 psi and is available in 6 sizes: 0.2, 0.25, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, and 0.6 (the number refers to the flow rate in gallons per minute when the nozzle is operated at 40 psi). While the wide pressure operating range makes it ideal for use with automatic rate controllers, it is critical to remember that a change in pressure brought about by a change is speed results in a change in the droplet size spectrum as well. See the March 2004 issue of the Illinois Pesticide Review for more details on how spray-rate controllers can affect spray droplet size.
For many applications, using a twin-spray pattern improves canopy penetration and coverage. Although, current research indicates that for applications of fungicides to dense soybean canopies, nozzles that produce a single flat-fan pattern directed straight down provide better canopy penetration than nozzles which produce twin spray patterns. The Turbo TwinJet is the newest twin-pattern design in Spraying System's nozzle lineup. Other designs include the TwinJet, which is a single tip with two standard orifices, and the Drift Guard TwinJet, which is a single tip with two standard orifices that uses a pre-orifice to reduce the formation of small spray droplets. The TeeJet Duo is an adaptor that holds two individual nozzle tips in a formation that provides two spray patterns. With the Duo, the applicator can choose the style of tip used.
The second new nozzle from Spraying Systems is the Air-Induction Extended-Range flat-fan spray nozzle. This nozzle design incorporates air-induction and a pre-orifice. It produces a single 110-degree flat-fan spray pattern oriented straight down. The Air-Induction Extended-Range nozzle can be operated between 15 and 90 psi and is currently available in 5 sizes: 0.25, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, and 0.6 (the number refers to the flow rate in gallons per minute when the nozzle is operated at 40 psi). Two additional sizes, 0.15 and 0.2, will be available at a later date.
While Spraying Systems already has two other nozzle designs that incorporate air induction, the Air-Induction Extended-Range is different in that it was designed to create a finer droplet spectrum than either Spraying Systems' Air-Induction nozzle or their Turbo TeeJet Induction nozzle. The goal was to create a nozzle that provided better coverage than the other two air-induction designs offered by Spraying Systems, while still creating a droplet spectrum which provides a reduced risk of drift compared to a non air-induction nozzle design. In comparison to the Turbo TeeJet, the Air-Induction Extended-Range nozzle has a coarser droplet spectrum. Two additional differences, compared to the other Spraying Systems air-induction tips, are a shorter profile (reducing the likelihood of damaging the nozzle during an application) and the use of a new material, UHMWPE polymer, which has improved wear resistance and is more resistant to acidic materials, compared to some other polymers.
Note: Product trade names have been used for clarity, but reference to trade names does not imply endorsement by the University of Illinois.