Information About Pesticides
Pesticide - Any substance used to kill, repel or otherwise control
a pest. These include insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides and
disinfectants. Pesticides are designed to be toxic and can pose a risk to
children, adults, pets and beneficial creatures and plants. Common pesticides
include herbicides for weed control, indoor ant and roach sprays, outdoor
foggers, insect repellents, flea collars and pet shampoos.
According to section(s) 62-256.200 (20) Florida Administrative
Code- "Pesticide" means any substance or mixture of substances intended for
preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any insects, rodents,
nematodes, fungi, weeds, or other forms of plant or animal life or viruses,
except viruses or fungi on or in living man or other animals, which the
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shall declare to be a pest, and
any substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator,
defoliant or dessicant.
Types of Pesticides
- Acaricides - kill mites and spiders
- Algicides - kill algae
- Antibiotics - kill bacteria and viruses
- Avicides - kill birds
- Dessicants - dry up animals and plants
- Fungicides - kill fungi
- Herbicides - kill plants
- Insecticides - kill insects
- Molluscicides - kill molluscs
- Nematocides - kill nematodes
- Piscicides - kill fish
- Plant Regulators - alter the growth of plants
- Repellents - drive pests away
- Rodenticides - kill rodents
- Sterilants - stop reproduction
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- crop loss
- home damage from termites
- clothes damage from moths
- property loss due to tree damage
- bubonic plague bacillus passed by fleas on rats,
- lyme disease passed from ticks on deer, wild mice;
- encephalitis transmitted by mosquitos
- loss of ornamental plants
- Pesticide Usage in The United States
- Taken from - "Pesticide Industry Sales and Usage, 1992-1993
Market Estimates, June 1994", Office of Prevention Pesticides and Toxic
Substances, 33 pp.
- U.S. pesticide user purchases account for one-third of the
world market (dollars).
- 1.1 billion pounds of active ingredients of conventional
pesticides are used annually in the U.S.
- There are 21,000 pesticide products containing 860 active
- 1993 annual U.S. pesticide user expenditures - $8.5 billion
- 56% herbicides
- 30% insecticides
- 7% fungicides
- 7% other
- Pesticides are used in more than 69 million households out of
94 million total households in the U.S.
- In 1993, expenditures on insecticides for homes and gardens
totaled $875 million, 32 million pounds or 13% of the total insecticide use by
volume in the U.S.
- Herbicide use in home and garden accounted for $219 million,
27 million pounds, or 4% of the total herbicide use in the U.S.
- Fungicide use in the home and garden accounted for $16
million; 11 million pounds or 8% of the total fungicide use in the home and
- Other pesticides accounted for $108 million, three million
pounds or 4% of the total other pesticide use in the home and garden.
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- diuron naled
Pesticide Usage in Florida
- Florida is the second largest user in the United States for
- 12,000 pesticides are used in Florida containing more than 600
- Forty-five of these ingredients are "restricted use
pesticides." These are classified based on their acute toxicity to humans.
- The EPA report "Pesticide in Groundwater Database: A
Compilation of Monitoring Studies: 1971-1991" contains the following
- 18,153 well samples were collected during the sampling period.
- 2362 samples contained detectable pesticides.
- 1708 samples had detectable pesticides above the drinking
- Florida groundwater significant detections included:
- EDB (a nematocide)
- alachlor (a herbicide)
- bromacil (a herbicide)
- aldicarb (a herbicide)
- The ten most commonly detected compounds in Florida were:
- aldicarb sulfone
- aldicarb sulfoxide
- ethylene dibromide
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Scientists cannot determine exactly what will happen to a
particular pesticide once it enters the environment. They gather information
which is used to make informed decisions about pesticide use and possible risks
resulting from that particular use. PLEASE REMEMBER Pesticides are made
to be toxic. Be an informed consumer and use environmental common sense when
using pesticides in your home and garden. These chemicals may effect your
health, the health of your neighbors and the health of smaller animals and
plants in your community.
The fate of pesticides released into the environment is unknown.
Releases may be followed by a very complex series of events which can transport
the pesticide through the air or water, into the ground or even into living
organisms. The medium for movement (air, water, soil, organisms) and the degree
of movement (local or long distance distribution) will be different for each
Pesticides which are sprayed move through the air and eventually
end up in other parts of the environment, such as soil or water. Pesticides
applied directly to the soil may be washed off the soil into nearby bodies of
surface water, may evaporate into the air, or may percolate through the soil to
lower soil layers and groundwater. Pesticides may enter surface waters when
applied for weed control, or indirectly as a result of leaching from boat
paint, runoff from soil or other routes.
Properties of Pesticides
- The properties of pesticides determine their fate and behavior
in the environment. The important properties are persistence, volatility, and
solubility in water.
- When pesticides are released into the environment, they are
either: 1) broken down, or degraded, by the action of sunlight, water or other
chemicals, or microorganisms, such as bacteria; or 2) resist degradation and
thus remain unchanged in the environment for long periods of time.
- The persistence of a pesticide is its ability to remain
unchanged. Persistence is measured by half-life. The half-life is the time it
takes for half of the initial amount of a pesticide to breakdown. Thus, if a
pesticide's half-life is 30 days, half will be left after 30 days, one-quarter
after 60 days, one-eighth after 90 days and so on.
- When the pesticide is broken down, this usually leads to the
formation of less harmful products. However, in some instances the products can
be more toxic than the original pesticide.
- Pesticides that are easily broken down generally move the
shortest distance and have the least adverse affects on people or other
organisms. Persistent pesticides generally move the longest distances and have
the greatest potential to accumulate in living organisms.
- The volatility of a pesticide is its ability to evaporate.
Pesticides that are more volatile have the greatest potential to go into the
atmosphere. If they are persistent, they can move long distances.
- The solubility of a pesticide is its ability to dissolve. If a
pesticide is very soluble in water, it is more easily transported by rainwater
as runoff, or through the soil as a potential groundwater contaminant. Water
soluble pesticides are more likely to remain in the surface water where they
may adversely affect fish and other organisms.
Properties of the Environment
The individual properties of soil, water and living organisms
affect the fate and behavior of pesticides. Climate and topography also play a
role. Soils vary in their ratios of sand, organic matter, metal content,
acidity, porosity, permeability, etc. These soil characteristics influence the
behavior of pesticides. Water characteristics also vary and influence pesticide
behavior. Some of the characteristics are acidity, depth, temperature, clarity,
flow rate, presence of biological organisms and general chemistry.
Living organisms accumulate certain pesticides. Through the
process of bioaccumulation, pesticides accumulate in lower organisms and are
passed to higher organisms in the food chain when eaten. The higher organism
will accumulate the pesticides at higher levels than their food source.
Pesticide levels in fish, for example, can be tens to hundreds of thousands of
times greater than ambient water levels in which they live.
Humans are at the top of the food chain. They bioaccumulate the
pesticides accumulated by the lower animals and plants that they eat. It is not
only fish but also domestic farm animals and plant food which can accumulate
pesticides. Care must be used in the use of pesticides in agricultural as well
as home and garden scenarios.
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Pesticides are designed to kill living organisms and EPA prohibits
claims that these chemicals are safe or nontoxic. Studies on animals have shown
that of the 34 chemicals encompassing 95% of lawn pesticides, 10 are
carcinogens, 12 caused birth defects, 20 are neurotoxic, seven alter the
reproductive process, 13 cause liver and kidney damage, and 29 are sensitizers
A study of indoor air quality by EPA in 1990 detected 26
pesticides. In animals, 19 of these pesticides are nerve poisons, 18 may cause
cancer, 15 are mutagens, 15 could cause birth defects, and 19 can cause
DEET, the active ingredient in many insect repellants, is
responsible for more than 5,000 poisonings every year in the U.S. (National
Capitol Poison Center, Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, D.C.). DEET
can cause central nervous system disturbances, dermatitis, and skin
At EPA's current rate of testing, it will take more than a decade
before 32 of the 34 most commonly used lawn chemicals can be fully tested for
their affects on human health.
Inactive or inert ingredients are another problem with pesticides.
Inert ingredients are designed to preserve the active ingredients, make them
easier to apply or improve their killing ability. Information on inert
ingredients is not required to be put on a product's label because this
information is considered proprietary. These ingredients typically comprise
between 80 - 90% of a pesticide, and in some cases be more toxic than the
Children and individuals with impaired immune systems are more
vulnerable than adults to pesticide poisoning. Children have higher metabolic
rates, and absorb higher concentrations of toxins from the environment than
adults. In addition, children have not fully developed their body's defense
systems against toxins. Their livers and kidneys, the organs that detoxify and
excrete foreign substances, and act as barriers to absorption of toxic
substances, have not fully developed.
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It is the intention of this book to dissuade you from excessive
use of pesticides, but if you decide to use pesticides, they can be handled in
a safe manner to avoid risking the health of you and your family, your
environment and the wildlife around you. The following are some suggestions for
1. Choosing the pesticide
- Do not use a pesticide unless you have a pest problem
- Do not buy more pesticide than you can use in one season
- Identify the pest before purchasing the pesticide
- Choose the pesticide that is least toxic
- Read the label to determine the proper application amount,
requirements for protective equipment and the potential hazards associated with
- Do not use a "restricted use" pesticide unless you are a
formally trained, certified pesticide applica- tor. These products are too
dangerous to be used without special training.
2.The label will tell you:
- The pests that the product will control
- How to mix and apply the product. Doubling the dose does not do
twice the job. It is hazardous to you and the environment.
- When to apply the product
- How the pesticide will affect crops, animals, and people
- How much and how often to apply
- READ THE LABEL COMPLETELY EVERY TIME YOU USE THE PESTICIDE
AND REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE HANDLING A TOXIC CHEMICAL. DO NOT USE THE CHEMICAL
OTHER THAN ACCORDING TO THE LABEL
3. Other information to consider:
- Mix the chemical outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Mix
only the amount you need.
- Keep children and pets away from areas where you mix or apply
- Never mix different pesticides.
- Never eat, drink or smoke when working with pesticides.
- Wear rubber gloves, a long sleeved shirt, long pants, foot
protection, goggles, a hat and preferable a mask when mixing and applying
pesticides. Remember that pesticides can be absorbed into your body through the
skin, as well as orally and through inhalation.
- Always shower and shampoo after working with pesticides. Wash
your work clothes separately from the family laundry.
- Always keep the pesticides in the original container.
- Store pesticides in a ventilated, dry and cool place,
preferably locked and away from children.
- Use all the pesticide in the container, do not pour unused
pesticides down the drain.
- Triple rinse empty pesticide containers and use the residue for
application. If the pesticide is a solid, shake the bag to remove and use all
product before you dispose of the container.
- Do not store anything in an empty pesticide container and do
not reuse the container.
- Any unused product that can no longer be used should be taken
to the local household hazardous waste collection for disposal. For additional
information, contact the Broward County Office of Integrated Waste Management
Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Hotline at (954) 765-4900.
- If a spill occurs, do not wash it away. Sprinkle with sawdust,
or kitty litter, sweep into a plastic garbage bag, and dispose with the rest of
- When treating indoor areas, remove pets (including birds and
fish) from the area to be treated. Also, remove food, dishes, pots and pans
before treating kitchen cabinets.
- Allow adequate ventilation and go away from the areas for at
least the length of time prescribed by the label.
- When treating outdoor areas, close the windows. Never spray or
dust outdoors on a windy day.
- Evaluate the results of your pesticide use to determine whether
future applications will be effective. Continue reading this manual to learn
how to avoid pesticide use altogether.
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