Spraying Chemicals

Updated Oct 31, 2013

Follow product labels and use caution to minimize risks.

By Olivia Grider

The accident: A 27-year-old landscape worker is spraying insecticide at a residential estate when a breeze picks up. Seemingly each time he turns his back to the wind, it changes direction and a cloud of the chemical washes over his face and bare arms. By the time the worker finishes the job, he has a headache, feels nauseated and dizzy, is sweating profusely and is experiencing muscle tremors. A co-worker calls 911. When emergency personnel arrive, they ask for the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the chemical the man was using, and a crew member retrieves it from the company truck. Doctors use the information to treat the worker, who recovers.

The bottom line: Do not apply landscape chemicals on rainy or windy days. Rain can wash chemicals into runoffs, and wind will keep them in the air, where they are a danger to you and others.

Even in the absence of wind, wear the gear indicated on the product label – usually pants, a long-sleeved shirt, eye protection, chemical-resistant gloves and sometimes a respirator. Ask homeowners whether they have children or pets and, if they do, tell them when, according to the product label, it will be safe for them to re-enter treated areas.

To further reduce risks:

• Read and understand the product label of every chemical.

• Have the MSDS for the chemicals you use on hand.

• Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after applying chemicals to minimize exposure from touching your face, food, a vehicle steering wheel, etc.

• Shower after work, and wash work clothes separately from other clothes.


Place chemical application notification flags along driveways and walkways on properties so anyone near a treated area will know a hazardous chemical has been applied.

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