Tips: Storing and Disposing of Pesticides Properly

Improper pesticide storage and disposal can be hazardous to human health and the environment. Follow these safety recommendations:

Safe Storage of Pesticides

  • Don't stockpile. Reduce storage needs by buying only the amount of pesticide that you will need in the near future or during the current season when the pest is active.
  • Follow all storage instructions on the pesticide label.
  • Store pesticides high enough so that they are out of reach of children and pets. Keep all pesticides in a locked cabinet in a well-ventilated utility area or garden shed.
  • Store flammable liquids outside your living area and far away from an ignition source such as a furnace, a car, an outdoor grill, or a power lawn mower.
  • Never store pesticides in cabinets with or near food, animal feed or medical supplies.
  • Always store pesticides in their original containers, complete with labels that list ingredients, directions for use, and first aid steps in case of accidental poisoning.
  • Never transfer pesticides to soft drink bottles or other containers. Children or others may mistake them for something to eat or drink.
  • Use child-resistant packaging correctly -- close the container tightly after using the product. Child resistant does not mean child proof, so you still must be extra careful to store properly -- out of children's reach -- those products that are sold in child-resistant packaging.
  • Do not store pesticides in places where flooding is possible or in places where they might spill or leak into wells, drains, groundwater or surface water.
  • If you can't identify the contents of the container, or if you can't tell how old the contents are, follow the advice on safe disposal in the next section.

Safe Disposal of Pesticides

  • The best way to dispose of small amounts of excess pesticides is to use them -- apply them -- according to the directions on the label. If you cannot use them, ask your neighbors whether they have a similar pest control problem and can use them.
  • If all of the remaining pesticide cannot be properly used, check with your local solid waste management authority, environmental agency or health department to find out whether your community has a household hazardous waste collection program or a similar program for getting rid of unwanted, leftover pesticides. These authorities can also inform you of any local requirements for pesticide waste disposal.
  • State and local laws regarding pesticide disposal may be stricter than the federal requirements on the label. Be sure to check with your state or local agencies before disposing of your pesticide containers.
  • If no community program or guidance exists, follow the label directions for disposal. In general, to dispose of less than a full container of a liquid pesticide, leave it in the original container with the cap tightly in place to prevent spills or leaks. Wrap the container in several layers of newspaper and tie it securely. Put the package in a covered trash can for routine collection with municipal trash. If you do not have a regular trash collection service, take the package to a permitted landfill (unless your town has other requirements). Note: No more than 1 gallon of liquid pesticide at a time should be thrown out with the regular trash in this manner.
  • Wrap individual packages of dry pesticides in several layers of newspaper (or place the pesticides in a tight carton or bag), and tape or tie the package closed. Put the package in a covered trash can for routine collection. Note: No more than 5 pounds of dry pesticide at a time should be thrown out with the regular trash in this manner.

The tips are from EPA.

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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