Pesticides have become an integral part of our modern life. They are used to protect agricultural land, stored grain and flower gardens from the spread of pests, diseases, weeds and other plant pathogens that cause yield losses and affect the maintenance of high product quality.
The use of drone spray technology on farm land continues to grow, as farmers warm up to the idea of unmanned aircrafts applying pesticides on crops. The efficiency and reduction of chemical use makes the technology more desirable. However, manual pesticide application is still widely used by farmers in Kenya.
Due to the shortage of trained personnel in pesticide regulatory procedures and lack of proper legislative authority, improper pesticide application is not uncommon and the harmful effects it has on the environment and consumers is unforgiving.
Here are 6 tips on how you can safely handle pesticides;
- Wear Protective Clothing.
Pesticide users or handlers are encouraged to ensure minimum or zero exposure to pesticides by wearing personal protective equipment that includes but is not limited to respirators, face shields, hand gloves, gum boots and overalls while handling pesticides. Proper washing of oneself and the protective equipment after any pesticide application is also advised.
- Read the pesticide label carefully.
When making a purchase, always read and understand the product as it contains information such as precautions like keep out of children’s reach, guidelines of how to use, active ingredients which is important as chlorothalonil has been banned in Kenya, registration number, the expiry date, mode of storage or disposal, among others. This ensures you are being mindful of your safety and that of others.
- Take precaution during transportation of pesticides.
Ensure the pesticide is transported in the right temperature condition, so as to safeguard it from damage and loss of effectiveness. Before transportation, ensure the packaging of the container or bottle is tightly sealed and in an upright position to avoid spillage. Ferrying of the product should be done from the back of the car or in a secure box tightly packed to avoid movement especially for liquid pesticides, which are most harmful when inhaled.
- Regularly check for leaks or damages on stored pesticides.
It is advisable to only buy the needed amount of pesticide at a time. However, any unwanted leftover should not be left in the application equipment. Further, any old containers should be disposed in accordance to the guidelines given or put in a hazardous waste bin.
- Use airy spaces when mixing pesticides.
There are different types of pesticides. Some are ready to use while others require mixing. As a pesticide user or handler, it is advised to always mix or dilute the pesticides outside or in a well ventilated area, due to the chemical components or fumes which could be dangerous if inhaled.
- Familiarize with First Aid.
Taking the first action, is as important as taking the immediate action. This means, action taken to determine what a victim has been exposed to and what part of the body has been affected can save the life of a person entirely. Handling pesticides comes with exposure risks like ingestion, skin contact, inhalation and eye contact.