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MDARD provides pesticide safety education during National Pesticide Safety Education Month

LANSING, Mich. — During February, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) celebrates National Pesticide Safety Education Month, raising awareness about safe pesticide use at home and in the office.

Pesticides are substances used to prevent, repel, or mitigate a range of pests including insects, weeds, and diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi. In addition to agricultural and garden products, pesticides include common household products used to protect humans and animals, such as insect repellants, pet flea and tick treatments, and antimicrobials, sanitizers, or disinfectants used to kill germs.

"Pesticides play a vital role in our agricultural industry and are an important resource in our public health toolbox,"  said Steve Carlson, MDARD's Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division Director. "However, pesticide applications are just one method of pest control. Integrated pest management or IPM is the systematic approach of using multiple pest-combatting methods to prevent pests from reaching unacceptable levels with the least possible impact on people, property, and the environment."

Preventing pests using IPM includes eliminating food, water, and shelter for pests, practicing sanitation such as cleaning regularly and disposing of trash in pest-proof receptacles, and excluding pests from homes and workplaces. When these methods are effective, pesticides may not even be needed to address pest issues.

When using pesticides, here are some safety tips:

  • Always follow label directions and wear the personal protective equipment specified on the label. The label is the law.
  • Store pesticides in their original containers with proper labels.
  • Keep pesticides out of the reach of children and pets, preferably locked up.
  • Use the amount specified on the label. Using more will not be more effective and may harm you, your family, your pets, and the environment.
  • When using sanitizers and disinfectants, follow label directions for recommended time the surface should remain wet to ensure the product has time to work against germs.
  • Wash hands with soap and water after using a pesticide, including insect repellents.
  • Wash clothes that have been in contact with pesticides separately.
  • Don't touch or enter sprayed areas while they are still wet and follow re-entry restrictions on the label.

If hiring a pesticide applicator to manage pests for you, choose a firm licensed by MDARD. Licensed firms meet the necessary education and experience requirements and employ certified pesticide applicators who have passed MDARD s proficiency examinations. Their training and experience will help prevent accidental pesticide misuse as well as help prevent accidental harm to humans, pets, livestock, and the environment. For additional information about pesticide safety, visit the National Pesticide Information Center.

MDARD is committed to pesticide safety and actively expanding outreach and education efforts. Learn more at


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