Fri | Dec 2, 2016

Pesticide safety among users

Published:Tuesday | September 16, 2014 | 12:00 AM

The Pesticides Control Authority (PCA), Ministry of Health, observes Pesticides Awareness Week each year to promote pesticide safety among users. It is a Caribbean-wide event under the auspices of the Coordinating Group of Pesticide Control Boards of the Caribbean (CGPC), with the theme being decided each year at the annual meeting of the CGPC.

The theme chosen for 2014 is 'Pesticides: Buy as required, use before expired'. This theme serves to highlight that it is a risk to purchase pesticides and store for an extended period before it is all used. Lengthy storage can be a risk to health and the environment for the following reasons:

It can result in the deterioration of the container and lead to leakage, contaminating the surroundings or even the person handling the container.

There is more time for accidents to occur, including mistaking the contents due to the deterioration and loss of the label; improper use or disposal could result.

The pesticides' active ingredients will break down over time, and, therefore, will be less effective in killing the pests. The user may decide (wrongly) to over-apply the product in order to achieve the required kill, resulting in greater contamination of the treated area. It must be noted that some active ingredients break down to products that are more toxic than the original and, therefore, pose more risk.

Pesticides should be purchased as close as possible to the time they are to be used and, if possible, only the quantity needed.

Expired pesticides

The other aspect of the theme is the problem of expired pesticides. As a required part of the pesticide product label, there is an expiry date. The manufacturer has determined that after the expiry date their product may have deteriorated to the point where its effectiveness is considerably diminished and it should not be sold or used. Prolonged storage may result in the pesticide product being left until the expiry date has passed. Expired pesticides pose a risk to health and the environment because having been identified as no longer useful, they are difficult to dispose of safely. They cannot be discarded in the garbage or poured out on the ground or in a drain or sewer. Fortunately, the PCA is currently part of a CGPC project being spearheaded by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations to package and ship out for destruction of obsolete pesticides from all Caribbean countries. When the project ends, there must not be another round of obsolete pesticides accumulating day by day which will require another expensive project. The solution is prevention - 'Pesticides: Buy as required, use before expired'.

The events for Pesticides Awareness Week are:

Sunday, September 14: Church Service

Tuesday, September 16: Newspaper feature; farming community meeting

Wednesday, September 17: National Agriculture Quiz Competition

Thursday, September 18: Outside radio broadcast, Junction, St Elizabeth.

Michael Ramsay

Registrar

Pesticides Control Authority