Pesticide Poisoning a Risk in Springtime

Published: Tuesday, April 14, 2020

This time of year, especially during isolation, many families are doing spring cleaning and working on yard projects. Avoid poisonings and be safe when using pesticides and other chemicals around the house. Chemicals used to control insects, plant diseases, weeds and slugs are all types of pesticides.

“Symptoms of poisoning from a pesticide might include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, excessive perspiration or muscle twitching,” said Scott Schaeffer RPh, DABAT, managing director of the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information. Other symptoms can include extreme weakness, confusion, blurred vision, coughing, reddened or irritated skin, difficulty breathing or cough.

As you begin spring cleaning and work in the yard, the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information offers the following safety advice:
In the yard and garden:

  • Remember that pesticides can be absorbed into the body through the skin and by being inhaled.
  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks, shoes and gloves when using pesticides.
  • Remove and wash clothing when finished; wash separately from regular family laundry.
  • Stay away from where pesticides have been sprayed until the area is dry.
  • Read the label on the pesticide container before using it. Make sure that you understand everything you need to know about the product ahead of time and carefully follow the directions.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands and face after you use pesticides and before you do any other activity. Never eat, drink or smoke while handling pesticides.

When any type of exposure has occurred, call the Poison Center for information regarding what to do, what to watch for, and how to treat the situation. If the most appropriate place to be is the hospital, the Poison Center will call ahead with treatment recommendations. Enter the center’s number into your phone’s contact list for quick access.

Pharmacists and registered nurses at the poison center are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (800) 222-1222. Please do not email the poison center or a member of the poison center staff, as poisoning emergencies are not handled through email. The Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information is a program of the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy at the OU Health Sciences Center.

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