You can learn how to do many things by watching YouTube videos. However, not everything you view should then be tried! In San Diego County in March 2011, three teenagers watched videos that prompted them to combine pool chlorine tablets with vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide in plastic bottles to cause explosions. One of the boys threw the bottles onto rocks and breathed the toxic gas formed by mixing the chemicals. After he became short of breath, he called his mother who then called 911. Fire department paramedics came and treated the boy while the Sheriff’s department’s bomb squad vented the remaining bottles and environmental health officials neutralized the chemicals.
This incident was listed in the California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s (DPR) “Top Pesticide Blunders by Consumers” May 31, 2012 press release. They are reminding consumers to follow all label instructions of household cleaning and gardening products to avoid illness and injury. DPR Director, Brian R. Leahy said,
“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of following the label instructions of all pesticide products, including those [products that] consumers use to kill ants, spiders, weeds and other pests in and around their homes. Selecting a product that specifically targets the pest or a method that poses less risk will reduce your chances of getting sick or hurt.”
Leahy also recommended that consumers consider using an Integrated Pest Management or IPM approach to reducing or eliminating the need for pesticides. This strategy includes removing crumbs and other food sources, fixing leaky plumbing, and sealing cracks and crevices with caulk so pests can’t get into the home.
Other common sense practices can be used to help prevent pesticide exposure in and around the home:
- Store pesticides properly and out of the reach of children and adults who are unable to recognize pesticide containers and their dangers.
- Keep pesticides in their original containers so no one mistakes them for food or drink. NEVER put pesticides in food or drink containers.
- Do not mix bleach with ammonia or other cleansers because the combination can form a toxic gas.
The San Diego county incident above and the blunders below were drawn from 2011 illnesses and injuries reported to DPR by the California Poison Control System. State privacy law protects the identities of the individuals, who all sought medical treatment.
- Contra Costa county: A woman hurried to treat an infestation of fleas and lice while the dogs and children were out of the home. She was steam cleaning the carpet with dog flea shampoo while she had lice shampoo on her own head when something got in her eye. She didn’t know whether the eye irritant was the dog shampoo (a registered pesticide) or the lice shampoo (a pharmaceutical, outside DPR jurisdiction).
- Kern county: A man saturated the soil with insecticide before planting marijuana in his yard. He sprayed the soil around the plants as they grew. The man became nauseated after smoking his homegrown marijuana. (No pesticides are registered for use on marijuana by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because marijuana is considered an illegal crop by the federal government. In California, a pesticide cannot be registered in the state unless it is registered by U.S. EPA. As a result, no analysis has been done by the state or federal governments to determine potential health and environmental risks posed by pesticide applications on marijuana.)
- Los Angeles county: A 4-year-old boy ate an unknown amount of roach gel mixed with peanut butter. That afternoon, he began vomiting and was found to have a low-grade fever.
- Yolo county: A woman set off a fogger and left her apartment. She immediately re-entered to turn off the smoke alarm when the fogger sprayed her in the face. She developed burning and watery eyes, runny nose, coughing, shortness of breath, and sensation of throat swelling. She re-entered again to get her car keys, which exacerbated the symptoms.
We can see how these mistakes could have been avoided by being more careful while using the products, using products according to the label, and keeping products out of the reach of children. Thankfully, most people who use pesticides are careful when using them and take the proper precautions to protect themselves, others, and their pets and wildlife.
Until next time,
Information in article taken from:
California Department of Pesticide Regulation. Top Pesticide Blunders by Consumers Underscore Importance of Following Label Instructions. May 31, 2012. Media Contact: Lea Brooks. (http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/pressrls/2012/120531.htm).