Hundreds of people get sick each year from inappropriate pesticide use, but those who don’t deal with pesticides daily may not think about it very often.
Pesticides are used in homes, workplaces, apartments, farms and other places where humans need to control pests such as weeds, insects, fungi, rodents and even viruses. Of the 11 states participating in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) pesticide safety program, workers reported 853 serious injuries from pesticides in 2011, according to the CDC.
During National Pesticide Safety Education Month this February, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension personnel urge homeowners, and all Georgians, to learn more about the safe use, storage and disposal of pesticides. Land-grant universities across the nation provide programs to educate both public and private sector groups about pesticide safety.
“Pesticide safety education is key to helping pesticide applicators, both commercial and agricultural, safely and effectively use available pesticides to protect their crops and livelihoods,” said Mickey Taylor, UGA Extension Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP) coordinator. “At the same time, they want to protect themselves, their employees and colleagues from any potential ill effects of pesticide use in addition to protecting their families and neighbors. As good stewards of the land, (they want to) preserve our environment for the future.”
This year, the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA), the American Phytopathological Society (APS) and the Entomological Society of America (ESA) have joined forces to highlight pesticide safety education programs and to teach pesticide safety to the public during the collaboration’s inaugural National Pesticide Safety Education Month.
UGA Extension’s PSEP promotes the safe, responsible use of pesticides by individuals and commercial groups by providing training programs, materials and educational resources covering pest identification, personal safety, safe storage and disposal of pesticides, environmental protection, pesticide drift and runoff prevention, threatened and endangered species protection, water quality protection, and food safety.
“Georgia’s PSEP offers online training modules covering core pesticide safety topics for agricultural producers seeking private applicator licenses, and core and some category study guides for commercial applicators of pesticides,” Taylor said. “In addition, recertification classes are offered in requesting counties around Georgia, as well as regional training classes that offer re-certification credit hours.”
PSEP also offers an online training course, the Georgia Competent Applications of Pesticides Program, that teaches basic pesticide safety to homeowners, public service employees and public volunteers, like Master Gardener Extension Volunteers, according to Taylor.
“This allows anyone in Georgia who might want to learn about the proper and safe use of pesticides to do so from the comfort of their own living room,” Taylor said.
Taylor is the editor of UGA Extension’s “Georgia Pest Management Handbook,” which is revised and published annually. Copies of the handbook are provided to all UGA Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources agents and are sold to crop advisers, chemical distribution companies and to the general public throughout the Southeast.
More information about UGA Extension’s pesticide safety resources can be found at www.extension.uga.edu/programs-services/pesticide-safety-education.