Pesticide spills: Be prepared

There are five steps that farmers should follow when a spill occurs.

Spills do happen. It may be a small spill that you can handle with a spill kit or one that you are not able to handle yourself. In either case, the trick is to be prepared. When a spill occurs, follow the following steps of proper spill response:

  1. CAUTION - Always assess the dangers of a spill or release first. If a spill cannot be controlled or contained without endangering life or safety, call 911 immediately.
  2. CONTROL -  If possible, control the source of the spill. Shut valves, plug leaks or set container upright. Note: don’t attempt to control the spill if you don’t have the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to handle dangerous chemicals.
  3. CONTAIN - Stop the spread of the spill and contain it to as small of an area as possible and away from groundwater, surface water, wells, storm drains or floor drains. Use a shovel to make a soil berm around the spill or apply an absorbent material such as cat litter.
  4. CONTACT - Contact the appropriate authorities. If the spill is a danger to health or safety, immediately call 911. Farmers should contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development hotline, 1-800-405-0101.
  5. CLEAN UP- For a dry spill, use the broom and dustpan to sweep up the product and then dispose of it property or use it as intended. For a wet spill, use cat litter, activated charcoal, soil or sawdust to absorb the chemical, then sweep it up and dispose of it material properly. Take contaminated materials to a Clean Sweep collection site or spread on labeled fields at agronomic rates. Never wash a spill down a drain as most drains lead directly to lakes, rivers or streams.

If a spill does happen, the safety of yourself and others should be considered first. If proper personal protective equipment is not at hand secure the area, stop the spill, contact MDARD and then obtain PPE.

Related Michigan State University (MSU) Extension News article: Keep a spill kit handy in case of a chemical spill.

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