The Truth About Pesticides

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Pesticides serve a particular purpose in our communities and in our homes. They are intended to kill organisms that cause disease and threaten people’s and pet’s health.

Pesticides are used to control insects, kill weeds, and repel rodents. We use them to disinfect, and to control bacteria and mold in our homes. For natural cleaning recipes, click here.

Because people use pesticides to kill, prevent, and repel living organism, pesticides by their nature are toxic to some degree.

Even the products that claim to contain fewer toxins, and those that are natural or organic, can cause health problems if someone is exposed to enough of it or it is not used according to label directions.

People come into contact with pesticides in many ways. We use pesticides in and around our homes and gardens, on our pets, and on the food we eat. Try organic gardening for food without pesticides.

Some of us work with pesticides through our jobs, and all of us are exposed to various pesticides throughout our communities and in our environment.

The risk of health problems depends on how toxic the pesticide ingredients are, and the amount of exposure to the product.

The Truth About Pesticides

There are many different types of pesticides including Algaecides, Antimicrobials, Disinfectants, Fungicides, Herbicides, Insecticides, and Rodenticides.

Pesticides must be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA evaluates pesticides to ensure that when they are used according to label directions they will not harm people, the environment or other species.

Pesticides that are considered to be “minimum risk”, pose little to no risk to human health or the environment. The EPA has exempted them from the requirement that they are registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. For more information on minimum risk pesticides.

The Truth About Pesticides And Our Food

Pesticides are used in the production of our food to control weeds, insects, bacteria, and fungus.

Under the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), the EPA is responsible for ensuring that all pesticides used on food in the United States meet the FQPA's rigorous safety standards.

The EPA works continually to review and improve safety standards that apply to pesticide residues on food. They re-evaluate the safety of each pesticide every 15 years or sooner if concerns are brought to their attention.

With continuous evaluations of registered pesticides, strict FQPA standards, significant improvements in science, and an increase in the use of safer, less toxic pesticides, there is an overall trend of reduced risk from pesticides.

The EPA assures us that the fruits and vegetables our children are eating are safer than ever. Moreover, it is important to remember, that just because there is some residue of a pesticide on fruits or vegetables, it does not mean it is unsafe. Pesticides that remain will decrease as you wash, prepare, and cook the food.

The Truth About Pesticides And Our Pets

People often use pesticides in their homes and yards to control a variety of pests such as insects, weeds, and rodents. Pet owners may also apply pesticide products directly on their pets to control fleas and ticks. Always read labels to keep your pet safe.

Here are some tips to keep your pets safe when using pesticides:

  • Remove pets, food bowls, all pet toys, chew bones and bedding from the area.
  • Always read and follow the label directions before using any pesticide. Although these pesticides can be beneficial, they have the potential to hurt your pet if they are not stored and used properly.
  • Keep pets away from treated areas until the pesticide is completely dry, and the area has been well ventilated.
  • Baits with pesticides often contain food ingredients that may be appealing to pets. If you use baits for rats, mice or gophers, place the bait in locations where your pet cannot reach them. Pets may try to dig up buried traps.
  • Pets can also be secondary poisoned, by eating rodents that have consumed the poison. Consider selecting a bait product with lower potential for secondary poisoning.
  • Pets need to stay off of lawns that have been treated with Granular products for at least 24 hours or until the granules are dissolved, and the grass is dry. Check the label for specific instructions.
  • If you hire a pest control company or lawn service, talk to them about the products they are using and the potential risk to your pets.

One of the best ways to protect yourself as a consumer, your family, and your pets is to learn the facts. For additional resources, contact the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.