Cover Image
close this bookSafe Use of Pesticides (ILO, 1985, 52 p.)
View the document1. Definitions
View the document2. General considerations
Open this folder and view contents3. Duties of manufacturers, sellers and users of pesticides
Open this folder and view contents4. Safety and health supervision
Open this folder and view contents5. Education and information

2. General considerations

Even though pesticidal chemicals may be extremely hazardous, they can usually be used quite safely if proper precautions are taken in their packaging and transport, and if the agricultural user adopts safe procedures for storage, handling and application of the product and for the disposal of empty containers.

A fundamental requirement is that no pesticide should be sold, supplied or imported without an appropriate label, written in the local language of the country or district in which it is to be used, giving, inter alia, detailed information or advice on safe packaging, transport, storage and handling procedures.

National legislation should always be complied with and any advice or instructions given by the manufacturer should be carefully read and strictly adhered to.

All persons whose work brings them into contact with pesticides, should be warned of any dangers presented by the substances that they are handling. Worker education is essential in ensuring the safe use of pesticides, and should cover the hazards of individual products, the routes of entry into the body and the nature of the toxic effects. Such education should be given in all agricultural schools and places of work and enforced by national legislation.

Pesticides vary greatly in their toxicity to higher animals, including Ban. & few are non-toxic, the majority are moderately toxic and some are extremely toxic. As a rule, herbicides are less toxic to humans than insecticides, although some are hazardous. The toxicity of fungicides tends to fall between that of insecticides and herbicides. In actual use, the toxicity of a pesticide depends on the degree of its dilution. If accidents are to be avoided, it should be a general practice that all pesticides be handled with great care irrespective of their degree of toxicity.

It is frequently possible to reduce the level of hazard by using a safer formulation (e.g. by replacing a liquid spray by a granular formulation), by replacing a highly toxic product by a less toxic one or by limiting the use of a certain active ingredient to trained teams of operators.

The dangers of chronic poisoning should also be considered. In many cases, the possible effects upon humans of repeated exposure to pesticides are difficult to deduce from animal experiments and much of the knowledge about these effects must be obtained slowly from human experience. Consequently, long-term repeated exposure should be avoided to eliminate possible chronic poisoning.

It should not be forgotten that some chemical pesticides or their vapours may constitute a fire or explosion hazard.