Cover Image
close this bookPublic Health Technician (MSF, 1994, 192 p.)
close this folderIII - Vector control
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentA. Introduction
View the documentB. The principal vectors: biology and control methods
View the documentC. Precautions for use and storage of insecticides
View the documentD. Spraying equipment
View the documentE. Technical briefs

C. Precautions for use and storage of insecticides

Precautions to be taken by the operator

Before use, the operator must be sure of the nature of the product and familiar with the manufacturer's specifications. In case of any doubt about the origin of this product, its storage conditions, or if the label is missing, a concentrated insecticide should never be used.

Check the spraying equipment. Pressured equipment should always be operated first with water to trace any leaks (often a cause of poisoning).

For engine-driven sprayers, protect the insecticide feed pipe from the exhaust pipe.

The preparation stage (dilution, filling the tank) is the most dangerous, as concentrated products are handled.

During preparation and treatment the following rules should be respected and enforced:

- Do not smoke, drink or eat.
- Do not keep cigarettes on you.
- Do not put anything to your mouth (to unscrew, blow, unblock, etc.).
- Wear protective equipment corresponding to the toxicity of the product being used:

· Powder: dust-mask and gloves.
· Liquid: canvas overalls, wide-brimmed hat, boots and gloves resistant to hydrocarbons, side protection glasses and mask. For the mask, the cartridge should correspond to the product being used and should be changed regularly (every 60 hours, in the open air). Check that it is airtight before starting work (take care of beards, hair, etc.).

- Make sure that these safety precautions are feasible (heat, etc.).
- Do not spray if it is windy.
- Establish a rotation of the team to avoid too long exposure for each individual.
- Empty and clean the equipment at the place of treatment. Do not throw remaining products in ditches, ponds, water courses or any place which may involve pollution of the aquatic environment.
- Ensure that the staff are well trained in taking the above measures.
- Ensure that the medical services have been warned and that they have the means to take the necessary action in case of poisoning.
-Always have a shower system available (bucket of water and soap).

Criteria for selecting staff

Avoid people with the following risk conditions when selecting staff to make up a treatment team:

- Pregnancy,
- Alcoholism, chronic or otherwise,
- History of liver or nerve disorders,
- Heavy smoking,
- Allergies or skin diseases.

More subjective criteria are also important:

- professional integrity,
- meticulous work,
- neatness and tidiness.

Before starting to make up and train a team, find out if suitable people are already available in the region (although a mosquito control team is not trained to manage a programme to control lice, or do aerial spraying).

Precautions to take during transport and storage


One of the most frequent risks of poisoning by insecticides is from leakages of concentrated toxic products during transport. International legislation forbids the transport of concentrated products with foodstuffs. Serious accidents have already occurred through not respecting this basic rule.

For land transport, always repack drums with leaks or with worn corners at the base. Put straw (or other absorbent material) in the bottom of the vehicle.

This should be burned on arrival. Load with care, pack the drums closely together and tie them down to avoid them jumping up and down.

The packaging of certain powdered products needs special protection against rain (craft paper bags).

Direct contact between the driver and the load should be avoided (separate cab), specially for powdered and granulated products.


Insecticides should be stored under lock and key. They should be out of reach of children, animals and thieves. The store should be separate and at a distance from food stores. The building should be cool, well ventilated and dry. Ideally, the store should not be deep, so that drums of concentrated products may be handled without having to go right into the store. Raise the containers off the ground if there is any risk of flooding.

Long-term storage should be in metal drums coated on the inside with a flexible varnish. Use anti-rust paint if there is any trace of oxidisation. The drums should be stored on their sides with the plugs (of the drain holes) towards the bottom, and recovered with liquid, in order to avoid the entry of air and humidity which would oxidise and denature the product.

Never store more insecticides than necessary, as disposal of the excess requires very special techniques.

Empty containers

There are several important precautions which must be taken when reusing metal containers:

- Empty the container well.
- Rinse several times with a detergent solution.
- Rinse a final time with a mixture of water, detergent + 10% sodium bicarbonate.
Leave in the container for several hours, stirring from time to time, then rinse with clear water.

All the water used in this process should be disposed in a hole in the ground.

It is preferable to avoid reusing? the drums for food or water. If, for a good reason, this rule cannot be respected, make sure that the above measures have been taken.