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Pesticide Poisoning Prevention Program

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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What is a Pesticide?

Pesticide: A chemical, or a poison used to destroy plants or pests of any sort.

-cide: A word termination denoting a killer or a killing.

How do I choose the right pesticide?

READ THE LABEL! to choose the right pesticide for the job. All pesticides are not alike! The LABEL will list what type of insects or weeds the pesticide will control. Pesticide categories include: fungicides (fungi), herbicides (weeds), insecticides (insects), rodenticides (rodents), etc.

How do I correctly use the pesticide?

READ THE LABEL! The LABEL will provide directions on how to mix (if necessary), and apply the pesticide.

How do I safely store a pesticide?

READ THE LABEL! The LABEL will list how and where to store unused portions of pesticides. Example, store pesticides in their original containers, OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN!

Are some pesticides more poisonous than others?

YES! The poisoning effects can differ with each pesticide, the amount* and by the exposure route. Ingestion is the most dangerous route. The Dose Makes the POISON!

The Organophosphates and Pyrethroids are the more commonly used types of pesticides. Organophosphate insecticides such as Acephate, Chlorpyrifos, Diazinon and Malathion affect the nervous system. The symptoms of poisoning may include headache, dizziness, nausea, anxiety and restlessness. A more severe poisoning may include muscle twitching, incoordination, sweating, weakness, tremor, vomiting, tearing, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, blurred vision and salivation. Convulsion and death may occur in the most severe cases.

The pyrethroid insecticides are man-made copies of naturally occurring pesticides produced by plants. Common pyrethroids are Cypermethrin, Fenvalorate, Permethrin and Resmethrin. These insecticides have low toxicity for people because they are poorly absorbed and broken down quickly. The symptoms of poisoning in very high doses may include tremor, incoordination, salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, paraesthesia (stinging, burning, itching, tingling, and numbness), and irritability to sound and touch. Convulsions and high body temperature have occurred in laboratory animals. In humans pyrethroids may cause inflammation of the skin with chronic use. Asthma-like and allergic reactions have been described in sensitized individuals.

Are all pesticides the same?

NO! Pesticides are given toxicity levels I-IV, (1 through 4). The pesticide is assigned a signal word according to the toxicity level and placed on the container label:

  • Toxicity Level I - (Highly Toxic) POISON-DANGER (labeled with skull and crossbones)
  • Toxicity Level II - (Moderately Toxic) WARNING
  • Toxicity Level III - (Slightly Toxic) CAUTION
  • Toxicity Level IV - (Relatively Non-Toxic) CAUTION

Who should I call for information about pesticides?

  • The Arizona Department of Agriculture (ADA) regulates commercial agricultural applications and their use.
    (602) 542-3578 or (800) 423-8876
  • Agricultural Worker Safety is regulated by the Arizona Department of Agriculture.
    (602) 542-0984
  • The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality monitors environmental effects of pesticides.
    (602) 207-4552
  • The Structural Pest Control Commission regulates the Pest Control Companies.
    (602) 255-3664 or (800) 223-0618
  • The Arizona Department of Health Services investigates incidents of pesticide exposure and provides information on pesticide health effects.
    (602) 364-3118 or (800) 367-6412