Issue 5, June 15, 2020

A Homeowners Guide to Troubleshooting a Misapplication of Pesticides

A pesticide misapplication can happen to even the best of us. In a recent email, a homeowner shared the following.
"I was doing a lot of planting over the weekend and I accidentally used Bayer Advanced 701260 All-In-One Rose and Flower Care Concentrate (not for edible plants) on my newly planted raspberry bush. What should I do? I gave it a ton of water to try to dilute it after I gave it the poison. I don't want to poison my family" 
In this article, we will walk through the steps to determine if the raspberries will be able to be eaten this year.

One of the first things we do is to look up the product label. We can find the label online but the most accurate one is on the bottle. This is where we can see what the active ingredients are as well as where the product can be applied and at what rate. The active ingredients in this product are tebuconazole (a fungicide) and imidicloprid (a neonicitinoid insecticide).

From the label we can read that "The entire plant, even new growth, is fed and protected against insects and disease. Rain or watering cannot wash off this long-lasting systemic protection."  We can also see that the product is not labeled for use on food crops and is for ornamental use only.

We can then look up the safety data sheet (SDS). The SDS contains information on potential hazards and how to work safely with the product. The SDS for this pesticide has an EPA Registration Number of 72155-21.  Though the label and SDS provide directions and safety information, they won't provide information for uses not listed on the label. That brings us to our final step, which is calling the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) to get guidance from their trained toxicologists. NPIC is a warehouse of great information for pesticide use. They operate on limited call-in hours. You can also contact them via email. This is one of the best ways to direct anyone that needs specific product information or pesticide safety questions.

Posing this specific concern with NPIC, here is their response and guidance on this situation.
If her concern is primarily with the risk of consuming fruit when the plant fruits, then unfortunately the risk is unknown because it has not been evaluated on raspberries. The risk depends on how much the plant was exposed to and how the chemicals behave, and their toxicity. The active ingredients in the product are tebuconazole (a fungicide) and imidicloprid (a neonicitinoid pesticide). Both are systemic. Imidacloprid is used on certain food crops and very small amounts (residue) is permitted in certain food crops, including cane berries, although again this specific product does not appear to be labelled for food. Tebuconazaole also is used on some food crops. The signal word caution means the total toxicity of the formulated product is low. 

Imidacloprid Technical Fact Sheet
Signal words

Unfortunately, many times the answers are uncertain; many products do not have legal tolerance levels set for the active ingredients when applied to an off-label crop (in this case, raspberries). The homeowner has two options. Since it is still early in the growing season, they could remove the plant and start over again. The other option would be to remove and discard any fruit from this season focusing on the plant's vegetative growth and health until next season. In this situation, we know the product has a low toxicity, and the amount applied was likely very low, but it ultimately comes down to the perceived risk. We do not know what specific inert ingredients are included in this particular formulation. They could differ from those similar products that are registered for food use.  We cannot recommend that you consume the fruit in this situation. Isn't your health and safety more important than a few raspberries or even a few dollars spent replacing a plant?

Maria Turner

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