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Home > Protecting Our Lands & Waters > Best Management Practices > Handling Pesticides Safely

Handling Pesticides Safely

Pesticides are one of many tools available to us for effective protection of crops from weeds, insects and diseases. Pesticides require special care and handling. The following practices outline safe, responsible and effective procedures for pesticide use and handling that can help protect our environment, our water supplies - and ourselves.

Pesticide users must follow all legal requirements such as:

  • Eliminate or minimize exposure to pesticides during mixing, loading, cleaning and applying. Always read the pesticide label for information on required personal protection equipment.
  • Know what to do in case of accidental pesticide exposure. Provide emergency wash stations for personnel exposed to pesticides, and develop a safety plan complete with information about locations and telephone numbers of emergency treatment centers for personnel exposed to pesticides.
  • Follow all local, state and federal regulations regarding the transport of pesticides.

In addition to legal requirements, consider the following voluntary Best Management Practices (BMPs) when making pesticide application and handling decisions.

  • Wash affected areas after possible exposure to skin and remove personal protective equipment prior to eating, drinking or smoking. Shower at the end of the day or after completion of application.
  • Wash and inspect personal protective equipment after each use. Wash clothes exposed to pesticides separately from other laundry.
  • Know what to do in case of pesticide poisoning. Have a pesticide first aid kit readily available. Check the product label for instructions and call the toll-free number below (which connects the caller to a local poison control center) in the event a pesticide is swallowed, or in the event of a serious dermal or inhalation exposure.
      • National Capitol Poison Center – 1-800-222-1222
        Minnesota Poison Control System / Hennepin Regional Poison Center

For recommendations on protecting applicators, mixers and loaders from exposure to pesticides, consult the University of Minnesota Extension's Private Pesticide Applicator’s Training Manual, 2004, 18.3 ed.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture • University of Minnesota Extension • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Working cooperatively to balance pest management and water quality protection. October 2008

MDA Contact

Steve Poncin
Pesticide & Fertilizer Management Division