Application Safety

Maggie Scarbrough

Each time you begin a pesticide application, follow these specific steps to ensure your safety.


  1. Be sure the pesticide reaches its target. If it does not, it can be harmful, as well as a waste.
  2. Check the delivery rate. Watch for puddles or dry spots in the application area. Concentrate on areas where you change directions or pause. Check your work early on so that you can adjust your equipment to the correct proportion, if necessary.
  3. Consider the appearance of the pesticide. Does it look like it should? Powders will have a white appearance while granules should look dry and emulsifiable concentrates look milky. Make sure your mixture is blended correctly. Also be sure the surface material is not reacting to the pesticide.
  4. Watch out for nontarget organisms. Make sure all people and animals are offsite before you begin. (This is the law!) Check labels to see how long before people and animals can return. If there is no indication, be sure they wait at least an hour.
  5. Stay away from nontarget surfaces. If it is possible, remove any items that can be contaminated during treatment. For those that cannot, be sure to cover them sufficiently. It is important to cover or remove any food or utensils, pet food, water supplies, toys and bedding.
  6. Use your equipment safely. If you have to pause or stop for any reason, turn off your equipment. Be sure to release pressure on any pressurized tanks. Keep people and animals away from the equipment. Be sure to check all equipment parts occasionally and keep yourself protected while checking equipment.


After you have completed mixing, loading, and application, take time to finish the right way. This means washing your equipment and yourself. Store equipment and all materials used safely and appropriately. Make sure your work site is clean and free from any residue or debris. Don’t leave the site unattended and be sure to accurately record what you applied and the conditions during application.


When a job is complete, proper equipment cleaning is necessary and should be done as soon as possible. Try not to always clean equipment in the same location, as it is easy to have a buildup of pesticide residue that can increase chances of harmful effects to handlers and others in that area. Only adequately trained workers should clean equipment as it is essential to do it right to prevent contamination. Protective gear is necessary for cleanup, just as it is for mixing and handling.


Cleaning correctly is safe and it will also keep your equipment functioning properly for longer periods of time. Any unused pesticide should not be stored for extended periods in your applicators. They will separate, corrode or clog your hoses and reduce their effectiveness. This will result in more money spent for equipment repair or replacement.


When equipment is cleaned, use cleaning agents, water or the diluent used in the mixture. Make sure you collect the resulting liquid (rinsate) from the cleaning procedure. You will want this amount to be as limited as possible to prevent unnecessary disposal. Wash any vehicles that carry pesticides, particularly those that will be used to transport family or others who are unprotected. It is possible to be poisoned from residue on such vehicles.

Any rinsates created during cleaning procedures can harm people and animals. They are also extremely harmful to water supplies like lakes, streams, wells, etc.


Rinsates can be used as a diluent for future mixtures if,


  • Pesticide contained in the rinsate can be used on the new target site.


  • The new pesticide product and the amount of pesticide in the rinsate do not exceed label recommendations.


  • The rinsate is used as a diluent with a compatible pesticide


  • You comply with any label specifications on new pesticides.


You cannot add a rinsate to a mixture if,


  • It is not listed as an acceptable diluent on the label


  • It contains strong cleaning agents that can harm application surfaces, plants or animals.


  • The rinsate would alter the pesticide mixture.

When it is time for you to clean up after application, take extra precaution. Before removing any equipment, wash the outside of your gloves. Next, carefully remove any protective gear and try to keep residue away from your skin. Take a shower! If you are unable to do so immediately, wash your arms, face, hands and any other exposed areas. As soon as possible, shower and wash your hair thoroughly. Finally, keep family members and pets away from contaminated clothing until they can be cleaned appropriately.