Safe Pesticide Storage

Rules of thumb for storage of pesticides
Safe Pesticide Storage - Articles


Proper Signage on a Pesticide Storage Area

Unsafe storage of pesticides can be costly or, worst case, even fatal. Improperly storing pesticides in food containers is the number one cause of oral exposure to pesticides. A nationwide study by the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that almost one-half of surveyed households with children under the age of 5 had at least one pesticide stored within their reach.

There are several simple rules of thumb for storage of all types of pesticides:

  • Keep all pesticides in the same place. However, keep different types of pesticides separate to avoid contamination, or accidental misuse.
  • Keep all chemicals only in their original container. Consumers should place Mr. Yuk stickers on pesticides stored in and around the home.
  • Keep pesticides in a locked area.
  • If possible, pesticides stored in and around the home should be kept at least five feet off the ground.
  • Shelves where products are stored should be made of metal or plastic.
  • Dry chemicals should be stored above liquids.
  • Use older chemicals first, some chemicals may have a shelf life as short as one month. Chemicals kept beyond their shelf life become less effective.
  • Check containers occasionally for breakage, corrosion, or other damage that may result in a spill. Even store liquid pesticide containers in an additional plastic tray to contain any potential leaks.

These are a few additional rules of thumb for larger pesticide storage areas:

  • Identify the area as Pesticide Storage
  • Consider heating the area if you are storing pesticides that may freeze
  • Minimize fire and other hazard potentials
  • Post signs on pesticide storage area doors

Pesticides differ in many ways, so it is important that you are familiar with any specific storage concerns for each individual pesticide. For example, most swimming pool chemicals are strong oxidizers and are very incompatible with other products. If a gas can sitting on the shelf above a container of granular chlorine would leak into that material it could spontaneously combust and cause a fire. Some chemicals will lose their effectiveness if they become frozen and thaw, others will not. The best way to become familiar with details specific to each pesticide is to read the label.