What happens if you spill a pesticide?
Every pesticide spill situation varies, but there are some basic procedures you can follow to protect you and your family if a spill emergency occurs. Spills occur due to breakage of glass containers, tipping open containers during mixing and handling, and sometimes from poor storage conditions. Avoid these situations and you will avoid most spill emergencies.
Some measures you can take to reduce the hazards of a spill include:
- Review your pest control priorities to determine if you need to use or store a pesticide in the first place.
- Don’t buy large containers or glass containers, which break more easily.
- Avoid liquid formulations if possible.
- Use ready‑to‑use products to avoid storing or handling concentrates.
- Don’t store pesticides in your living areas or where vapors from a spill can enter your home in some way.
- Don’t place containers where they will be easily knocked onto the floor and broken.
- Don’t store containers where heat or cold will cause chemicals to react or rupture containers.
- Don’t store containers where they will become wet or damaged.
The following diagram provides a 10-step process that works for most home and garden chemicals. If you have any doubts, contact the chemical manufacturer, your local Extension agent, or the groups listed in the Virginia Pesticide Information Directory (to follow).
Chemical Spill Kit
Here is a list of supplies you will need to handle most chemical spills. Try to keep these items handy if you store pesticides in your home.
- chemical resistant gloves [2 pairs made from nitrile or neoprene—if you can’t get these, rubber or vinyl will work but be careful since some chemicals can permeate (dissolve and enter through the glove surfaces) these materials easily]
- chemical resistant boots (1 pair made from neoprene rubber, or vinyl—again be careful about permeation)
- absorbent material (1 large bag of kitty litter or other commercially available absorbent)
- detergent [strong household type such as Tide or All will work; trisodium phosphate (TSP) will work more effectively but be careful because this material can burn you]
- disposable pail (a 5-gallon bucket will work—this is a good place to store most of the items in a spill kit)
- disposable plastic bags (2 heavy-duty garden type bags)
- broom (household type with natural bristles)
- scoop or shovel
- fire extinguisher [10 lb.—rated for chemical fires (A B & C type fires)]