Homeowner safety tips for pesticide use on lawns

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.

When pest problems occur in lawns, always consider whether a non-pesticide solution to the problem is practical and feasible. There are many integrated pest management solutions to lawn problems that may involve no, or reduced, use of pesticides. If pesticides are chosen to control the problem, be sure that the pest has been accurately identified. Always consult the product label to see if the pest is listed in the “pests controlled” section. Read the label carefully and follow all mixing and application instructions and safety precautions. Do not apply more pesticide than listed on the label. Adding a “little more” than the label rate may seem like a good idea, but it will increase the risk of pesticide exposure to people and pets and harm to the environment. It is illegal to apply pesticides at rates greater than specified by the product label.

Before applying a pesticide to your lawn area, always remove toys and pets’ food and water dishes. When applying the pesticide, be sure to follow directions for skin protection, which most commonly includes waterproof or chemically resistant gloves. Avoid glove materials of cotton, canvas or leather when handling materials because they absorb and hold pesticide residues. Consult the pesticide’s label for statements regarding specific treatment in the event of an exposure. Take the label with you to the medical facility should an exposure occur. Symptoms such as dizziness, headache or nausea may indicate pesticide exposure.

After applying pesticide to a lawn, keep people, especially children, and pets off the lawn for an appropriate amount of time. This may or may not be specified by the label. Generally, it is a good idea to wait at least a day or two before allowing children to play on treated lawns. If you hire a professional lawn care company to treat your lawn, they are required by law to post a “caution” sign after treating the lawn that warns people and pets to stay off for 24 hours. Be sure children are familiar with the sign and understand what it means.

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