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Pesticide Storage

November 25, 1998

The previous two issues of this newsletter contained articles on pesticide shelf life and disposal. Below is some important information about a related topic: pesticide storage

Pesticides can have an extended shelf life if the storage area is cool, dry, and out of direct sunlight. Protection from temperature extremes is important because heat or cold can shorten pesticide shelf life. At temperatures below freezing, some liquid formulations separate into their various components and lose effectiveness. High temperatures cause many pesticides to volatilize or break down more rapidly. Extreme heat may also cause glass bottles to break or explode.

Small amounts of pesticides should be stored in a locked cupboard or storage cabinet out of the reach of children. Larger amounts of pesticides should be secured in a locked room or shed that is well lighted and ventilated, constructed of fire-resistant materials, contains a sprinkler system, and has firefighting equipment on hand. A list of stored chemicals should be filed with the local fire department.

The storage area should be in an area where flooding is not likely. Also, the storage area should be downwind and downhill from sensitive areas such as homes, play areas, and ponds. Storage facilities should be located away from human or livestock habitation to avoid contamination in the event of fire. Weatherproof signs stating "Danger! Pesticide--Keep Out!" should be attached to the door and/or windows.

Pesticides packaged in paper or cardboard containers should be stored on shelves to keep them away from water or dampness on the floor. To prevent cross-contamination, separate volatile herbicides and other pesticides. Keep all corrosive chemicals in their proper containers to prevent leaks. Even the simple step of tightly closing lids and bungs on containers can help extend the shelf life of pesticides.

Build a drainage system to collect any runoff water contaminated with pesticides. Pesticides that may be present as a result of tank rinsing, spills, seepage from storage, and heavy runoff from firefighting or floods must be controlled. Dikes, collecting pools, and washing slabs with sumps provide a proper drainage system. The collected runoff water should be treated as a surplus pesticide and disposed of properly or reused in pesticide application.

An adequate supply of detergent or soap, hand cleanser, and water is essential in the storage area. Water also serves as quick first-aid in a poisoning emergency. A shower should be available as first-aid for pesticide spilled on the skin. An emergency shower that will release a large amount of water at once is preferable. An eyewash station should be nearby as well. Absorptive clay, activated charcoal, vermiculite, pet litter, sawdust, or specialized pesticide-absorbent material should be readily available at the storage site to soak up spills and leaks. Other essential items include a shovel, broom, dustpan, leak-proof container to hold spilled pesticide, and the proper type of fire extinguisher.

Author: Fredric Miller Phil Nixon


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