What is the basic first aid for pesticide exposure?

Keep the victim warm and calm. If the victim has seizures, monitor their breathing and protect their head. Keep your chin up to keep the airways clear for breathing. If breathing stops, administer artificial respiration and call 911. If the pesticide splashes on the skin, soak the area with water and remove contaminated clothing.

Wash your skin and hair thoroughly with soap and water. Later, discard contaminated clothing or wash them well separately from other clothes. If you are alone with the victim, make sure they are breathing and that exposure to the pesticide has stopped. Learn best practices for calibrating a boom-mounted low-pressure soil spray nozzle for best results when applying pesticides.

The lower the LD50 value of a pesticide, the less it takes to kill 50% of the test animal population and the greater the toxicity of the chemical. If you have questions about chemicals used in flea and tick products, consult your veterinarian or pesticide manufacturer. Signal words and toxicity levels are determined by the LD50 (the dose that causes death in 50 percent of exposed test animals) of the pesticide. Some of the above material was adapted from the Northeastern Regional Pesticide Coordinators Pesticide Applicator Training Manual and the Illinois Pesticide Applicator Study Guide.

The label often provides important information about first aid procedures for the particular pesticide product. Be alert to the first symptoms of pesticide poisoning and the (local) contact effects on you and others. Minimizing the likelihood of chronic effects is one of the important reasons to follow all label instructions and to be careful when handling and applying pesticides. People are more likely to accidentally swallow pesticides that are improperly stored in the home or transferred to unlabeled bottles or containers that are normally used for food or beverages.

Every year, children top the list of reported pesticide poisoning cases, according to information from the National Poison Data System. DANGER, POISON, DANGER, WARNING and CAUTION, the four distinctive words currently found on pesticide labels, are based on the acute toxicity of the product. Whether you experience delayed effects depends on the pesticide, the extent and route of exposure, and how often you were exposed. The best first aid for a person who has ingested a poison is to dilute it as quickly as possible by giving him small sips of water, less than four (ounces), and prompt medical attention.

The “Precautionary Statements” section of the label indicates any delayed effects that the pesticide may cause. Seek immediate medical advice if you have unusual or unexplained symptoms that occur within 24 hours of exposure to a pesticide.

Blanche Hochstine
Blanche Hochstine

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