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Emergency Response to Pesticide Exposure

This is a snippet from Certified Training Institute's Personal Protective Equipment Course - Approved for Continuing Education in Multiple States

Unfortunately, accidents happen. Some are small and fairly manageable and others big or hazardous that require expert assistance. You need to be able to identify how unintended pesticide releases, like fires and spills, can harm humans and the environment. In dealing with emergencies, you must know how to clean up and dispose of contaminated items to reduce environmental impact. And, you should be familiar with emergency response equipment.

Be prepared. The more prepared you are to handle an emergency, the faster you can react to reduce impacts on human and animal health, and reduce impacts to the environment.

What is a typical emergency when working with pesticides?

  • If a vehicle or spray rig overturns, pesticide injuries, fires, or spills can occur.
  • A ruptured hose can cause a pesticide spill that results in an exposure incident or environmental contamination.
  • An explosion or fire in a pesticide storage area can result in toxic fumes.

Why is it important to plan for an emergency response? 

  • Being well-prepared to respond to an emergency can prevent harm to humans and the environment.
  • How you respond makes all the difference and will likely diminish the consequences that may develop.

Develop a Plan

Designate an emergency coordinator for your organization’s emergency response plan. The plan should include a list of agencies to be notified, including the person to contact. Have phone numbers for the local emergency planning committee, police and fire units, and the local paramedics and hospitals. List the chemical manufacturer’s contact information for the pesticides used. Include agencies that are responsible for pesticide containment and hazardous waste clean up. Don’t forget to protect yourself and your assets. Contact an attorney if there is an emergency involving pesticides and remember that ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Emergency Response Forms.  Report information about the incident on emergency response forms and keep them with the phone number list.

Provide Maps. A map of the pesticide storage facility and bulk storage tanks is essential to assist emergency responders and employees. Include the layout of the storage areas, access roads and fences, main shutoffs for utilities, and the location of fire alarms, extinguishers and personal protective equipment. Make sure emergency response agencies have a current copy available in the event an incident occurs.

Provide the emergency response agencies with an area map that directs them to the pesticide storage facility without delay. Even with the advent of 911 emergency and geospatial positioning systems, some remote areas may not have adequate communications/map access.

Online Pesticide Professional Continuing Education

State-approved video continuing education courses are available 24/7.


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