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Pesticide Safety Education Program

Pesticide Storage and Security

Proper storage is important in keeping pesticides in good condition for use next year as well as keeping children and unauthorized people from tampering with these products. Pesticides should not be exposed to temperatures over 110 degrees F. or breakdown and loss of effectiveness can occur. Also, check the pesticide label to see if you should guard against freezing temperatures. Store your herbicides separately from insecticides, fungicides and other pesticides to avoid their contamination from herbicide fumes.

Pesticides should be kept locked up except when they are being used. Even when you remove a container of pesticide for use, you should keep the storage area locked while mixing and loading the sprayer, spreader, or other application equipment. Even if the storage area is in sight of the mixing and loading area, you may be called away to the phone or to assist someone else. Just a few minutes absence can be enough for a child or other person to find the storage area and become poisoned. With today's concern about terrorism, an unauthorized person entering the area may be more than a curious passerby. Sprayers, spreaders, and other pesticide application equipment should also be kept locked up and secured to protect it from tampering and accidents. Be especially watchful and suspicious of unauthorized people in these areas.

In addition to being kept locked, the pesticide storage area should be plainly labeled as a pesticide storage area. A sign stating "Danger - Pesticides - Keep Out" or similar information should be appropriate. If you have Hispanic employees who do not read English, then the warning should also be in Spanish. A list of stored pesticides should be kept in your office and with the local fire department. There should also be a map or other information as to which particular building and part of the building contains pesticides. This information can be very useful to the fire department for the protection of firefighters as well as avoiding environmental contamination from pesticide being carried away with water used to fight the fire.

Near the pesticide storage area there should be soap and water for washing any pesticide off of your hands or other skin areas. Maintain an eyewash station or at least have a faucet or hose for splashes into the eye. The first aid for eye exposure by many pesticides is to wash the eyeball with running water for at least fifteen minutes. Have a fire extinguisher handy because many pesticides are flammable. An absorbent material should be available for any liquid pesticide spills. This may be sawdust, kitty litter, oil dry, or specialized absorbent pads or "snakes" to surround and contain spills. Have a broom, dust pan, and trash can to pick up and store any dry spills or absorbed liquid spills until they can be disposed of properly. Pesticide labels will have a telephone number to contact the pesticide company on the proper method to dispose of the spilled pesticide. Local emergency personnel such as fire and police departments as well as the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency can also provide assistance.

Use the following checklist to improve the safety and security of your facility and pesticide storage area:

For more information about accident prevention, chemical security, and facility design, see "Chemical Accident Prevention: Site Security (EPA, Feb 2000)" available on-line at This 8-page publication also provides a valuable list of organizations, websites and books that address these issues in more depth.

Source: Philip Nixon and Bruce Paulsrud, University of Illinois Extension (10/4/01).