Pesticides, including herbicides, are used to control and fight pests that live on your lawn and around your home. When buying a product from a pesticide company, you want to be sure you are getting an item that works for your needs. There are several steps you should take to gain information about the product and what it offers.
What Pesticides Are
Many people believe that a pesticide is a substance used to kill insects. This isn’t entirely true, although pesticides can be used for this purpose. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines a pesticide as “any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest.”
Every pesticide has to be tested before being registered and then carrying a label that designates it as approved by the EPA. While the agricultural industry uses pesticides regularly, the largest group of users are homeowners.
The first thought most people have when the word “pest” is used is insects. However, many forms of pests aren’t insects and various pesticides exist for each of them. Pesticides include the following:
- Algicides – Largely used as chemicals for pools
- Fungicides, larvicides, miticides, and others – Used for various types of pests
- Germicides – Mostly consisting of disinfectants for bathrooms
- Herbicides – Desiccants and defoliants for plant life
- Insecticides – Repellents and attractants for insects, including pet flea collars
- Mildewcides – Often includes in cleaning products for the home
- Rodenticides – Used for dealing with mice and rats
Other pesticides are available but aren’t often used by the average consumer, such as chemicals that regulate animal or plant growth.
How To Read Pesticide Labels
The best way to learn more about a pesticide is by reading the label. It gives you the information needed to use the substance effectively and safely. The directions are included to ensure you get the maximum benefits without a large amount of risk.
Read the label when purchasing a pesticide and follow its instructions when mixing and using it. The label will also offer information about how to dispose of or store the substance. Relying on your memory runs the risk of doing something in an improper way that sacrifices your own safety and that of those around you.
If you do not use the pesticide as labeled, it could be ineffective or create a risk. Therefore, several parts of the label are important to read.
The trade or brand name will be on the front panel of the label and identifies the pesticide. Keep in mind that even products with the same active ingredient can have unique brand names based on who manufactures or registers the pesticide.
It’s also important to realize that even similar brand names might contain different active ingredients.
EPA Registration Number
This is a small section of the label that indicates the EPA has reviewed the substance and decided that it can be used with low or minimal risk. However, this only applies if you follow all of the label’s instructions.
The ingredients statement will list all the active ingredients and chemicals contained in the pesticide that control or kill certain pests. On the other hand, inert ingredients can improve the safety or the effectiveness of a pesticide.
You’ll see the chemical name of each active ingredient, the percentage by weight of each of these ingredients, and the percentage by weight of inert ingredients. The inactive ingredients will not be listed individually or by name.
If the label contains the words caution, danger, or warning, this indicates that the pesticide is toxic to humans. You’ll also see the statement “keep out of reach of children” with signal words on all pesticide labels.
- Caution – These are the least harmful pesticides to use.
- Warning – This is going to be more toxic than pesticides marked with caution.
- Danger – These pesticides are very irritating or poisonous and should be used with exceptional care since they can seriously burn the eyes and skin.
There will also be an area that lists precautionary statements, such as needing to wear protective clothing like goggles or gloves when using the products. It will also offer information about keeping pets and children away from areas the pesticides have been used.
First-aid instructions should be included and in case of an emergency, the number listed on the label should be used. You can also call a doctor or poison control if needed. After first aid has been given, you should visit the hospital and bring the pesticide container or label with you.
There is also a section listing any personal protective equipment that should be used to avoid being exposed to the pesticide. Again, this should be read before purchasing a pesticide from any company.
The environmental hazards section of the pesticide will indicate whether the product could cause damage to the environment. For example, it will provide information about whether it can harm fish, wildlife, pollinators, or endangered animals and plants. It also covers bodies of water like wetlands, rivers, lakes, and ponds.
Directions for Use
This is where you can see how the product is labeled for use. You can ensure that it is made to be used against whatever pests you are trying to kill or control. For example, if the product is made to control fleas, it isn’t going to be appropriate for termites.
You should also make sure you use the amount indicated on the label and follow all other directions exactly.
Storage & Disposal
When buying a pesticide from any company, make sure to review the storage and disposal information. Follow all of the instructions for safe storage and disposal of the product. You should keep the pesticide in the original container and in a place where children cannot access it.
If you dispose of the pesticide in a way not listed on the label, this could harm other people or the environment.
Choosing the Right Pesticides
When you need to buy a pesticide from any company, the label is the best way to educate yourself on what you are purchasing. It will give you information about what is in the pesticide, which pests it targets, how to handle it, and what to do with the pesticide when you are done with it.
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