General Guidelines for Pesticide Safety

Only use pesticides when necessary. Before using any pesticide product, always read the label, as it is a legal document.
General Guidelines for Pesticide Safety - Articles


Gerald Holmes, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo,

The label provides information on which pests can be controlled, on which crops the pesticide product can be used, and the recommended rates and times of application. Any "off-label" use is a violation of both federal and state laws. Correct use of pesticides is essential to protect human, animal, and plant health as well as to protect the environment. Additionally, proper use will ensure chemical residues on crops and animals do not exceed legal limits (tolerances).

  • Before using any pesticide, read the label.
  • Become familiar with current federal and state pesticide laws and regulations.
  • Follow all safety precautions on the label.
  • Wear protective clothing and use protective equipment (both are referred to as PPE) according to instructions on the pesticide label.
  • Minimum clothing requires long pants, long-sleeved shirt, socks, and shoes. In addition, one should ideally wear chemical-resistant gloves (nitrile, butyl, or neoprene) and unlined rubber boots.
  • Be careful when handling pesticide materials to avoid spilling on skin or clothing.
  • Never eat, drink, smoke, or use tobacco products while applying pesticides.
  • When selecting pesticides, consider type of formulation and the application equipment required.
  • Avoid drift to nontarget areas, which may endanger other plants or animals. Dusts drift more than sprays and airblast sprayers create more drift than boom sprayers.
  • For record-keeping requirements, record the date, time, location, amount of each pesticide used, and any other required information as soon as possible.
  • Bathe or shower in hot, soapy water after applying pesticides.
  • Wash clothing worn while applying pesticides separate from other laundry, in hot, soapy water. Contaminated clothing must be handled with the same precautions as the pesticide itself.