Lawn care businesses, farmers, agricultural chemical dealers and exterminators are among businesses that regularly use pesticides. With recent threats to the United States, security of these chemicals becomes critical — in fact, the Environmental Protection Agency this week issued a safety and security alert to the pesticide industry and related businesses.
Among the precautions stressed by the EPA are careful hiring practices, equipment security and protecting confidential information. The Department of Transportation also has released an advisory for the transport of equipment and chemicals.
"Any person who stores or uses pesticides should always do so properly," said Sandra McDonald, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension environmental and pesticide education specialist. "However, because of recent events, the EPA is urging everyone to be especially vigilant regarding the security of these chemicals and application equipment."
The FBI is asking for extra caution from agricultural chemical retailers and those businesses or organizations that spray chemicals for mosquito control.
Among other precautions, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has developed 10 steps to help local public health and safety officials analyze, mitigate and prevent chemical disasters. Those steps are posted at www.techstuff.com/Terror/terror.htm.
The EPA’s information about chemical safety accident prevention is at http://www.epa.gov/swercepp/pubs/secale.pdf. The EPA’s security recommendations are posted at http://www.epa.gov/swercepp/p-small.htm#alerts and http://www.epa.gov/swercepp/.
McDonald recommends that businesses or individuals who store or use pesticides follow the checklist below to help secure chemicals and equipment. This checklist also is available online at http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/SoilCrop/extension/CEPEP/.
Pesticide Security Checklist
Farmers, agricultural chemical dealers, agricultural pilots (cropdusters), lawn care operators, exterminators and others who regularly store and use pesticides should review how they store pesticides and pesticide application equipment. To prevent theft and possible misuse of these chemicals, review and follow these procedures:
- Always store pesticides in a locked, secure facility.
- Limit access to pesticide storage. Be aware of who has keys and access to pesticide storage areas and take necessary steps to keep unauthorized people away from the storage area. Commercial pesticide applicators should be aware of who has access to pesticide storage areas during business hours.
- Post all storage areas (for example, "Pesticides – Keep Out").
- Post emergency contact names, addresses and telephone numbers at the primary entrance to the storage area. List at least two people, if possible.
- Inspect storage facilities at least once a week and maintain an inspection log.
- Secure pesticide application equipment to prevent unauthorized access.
- Keep an inventory of pesticide products updated and readily available. Check it at least once a week. Immediately notify local law enforcement of missing chemicals.
- Do not keep excess inventory. Purchase only what you can use in the next week or month.
- Keep your storage facility cool, dry and well ventilated. Make sure it is away from areas likely to flood.
- Post the storage facility with signs to let emergency personnel and fire fighters know that they may encounter toxic fumes. Make sure that pesticide labels and Material Data Safety Sheets (MSDS) are available on all stored pesticides.
- Store pesticides on a sealed concrete floor to prevent spills from reaching groundwater supplies.
- Store products by category – keep herbicides separate from insecticides. Store liquid formulations below dry formulations. Keep glass containers on the lowest level. Keep all containers off the floor.
- Keep all pesticides in their original containers with their original labels. Never store a pesticide in a food or drink container.
- Never store feed, seed, fertilizer, veterinary supplies or medications or business products in a pesticide storage facility.
- Never let anyone eat, drink or smoke in a storage facility.
- Never store personal protective equipment inside a pesticide storage facility. Keep emergency PPE in another nearby room in case of a spill.
- Keep spill clean-up kits in storage facilities.
- Keep a list of emergency telephone numbers readily available, including fire, law enforcement and medical contacts.
- Protect confidential information, including information stored on computers, with contingency planning for power losses, secure access ports, password and backup procedures and maintain access by authorized personnel only.
- All employees who handle pesticides should have the necessary training to handle pesticides safely. Background checks are necessary on employees who have access to secure areas.
This checklist also is available at http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/SoilCrop/extension/CEPEP/factsheets/120.pdf.