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Statewide IPM Program, University of California

Precautions for using pesticides

Rinsing a pesticide container

Pesticides are poisonous and must be used with caution. READ THE LABEL BEFORE OPENING A PESTICIDE CONTAINER. Follow all label precautions and directions, including requirements for protective equipment. Apply pesticides only on the crops or in the situations listed on the label. Apply pesticides at the rates specified on the label or at lower rates if suggested in this publication.

In California, all agricultural uses of pesticides must be reported. Contact your county agricultural commissioner for further details. Laws, regulations, and information concerning pesticides change frequently. This publication reflects legal restrictions current on the date next to each pest's name.

Legal responsibility

The user is legally responsible for any damage due to misuse of pesticides. Responsibility extends to effects caused by drift, runoff, or residues.


Do not ship or carry pesticides together with food or feed in a way that allows contamination of the edible items. Never transport pesticides in a closed passenger vehicle or in a closed cab.


Keep pesticides in original containers until used. Store them in a locked cabinet, building, or fenced area where they are not accessible to children, unauthorized persons, pets, or livestock. DO NOT store pesticides with foods, feed, fertilizers, or other materials that may become contaminated by the pesticides.

Container disposal

Dispose of empty containers carefully. Never reuse them. Make sure empty containers are not accessible to children or animals. Never dispose of containers where they may contaminate water supplies or natural waterways. Consult your county agricultural commissioner for correct procedures for handling and disposal of large quantities of empty containers.

Protection of nonpest animals and plants

Many pesticides are toxic to useful or desirable animals, including honey bees, natural enemies, fish, domestic animals, and birds. Crops and other plants may also be damaged by misapplied pesticides. Take precautions to protect nonpest species from direct exposure to pesticides and from contamination due to drift, runoff, or residues. Certain rodenticides may pose a special hazard to animals that eat poisoned rodents.

Posting treated fields

For some materials, restricted entry intervals are established to protect field workers. Keep workers out of the field for the required time after application and, when required by regulations, post the treated areas with signs indicating the safe re-entry date. Check with your county agricultural commissioner for latest restricted entry interval.

Preharvest intervals

Some materials or rates cannot be used in certain crops within a specified time before harvest. Follow pesticide label instructions and allow the required time between application and harvest.

Permit requirements

Many pesticides require a permit from the county agricultural commissioner before possession or use. When such materials are recommended, they are marked with an asterisk (*) in the treatment tables or chemical sections of this publication.

Maximum residue levels

Before applying pesticides to crops destined for export, check maximum residue levels (MRLs) of the importing country.

Processed crops

Some processors will not accept a crop treated with certain chemicals. If your crop is going to a processor, be sure to check with the processor before applying a pesticide.

Crop injury

Certain chemicals may cause injury to crops (phytotoxicity) under certain conditions. Always consult the label for limitations. Before applying any pesticide, take into account the stage of plant development, the soil type and condition, the temperature, moisture, and wind. Injury may also result from the use of incompatible materials.

Personal safety

Follow label directions carefully. Avoid splashing, spilling, leaks, spray drift, and contamination of clothing. NEVER eat, smoke, drink, or chew while using pesticides. Provide for emergency medical care IN ADVANCE as required by regulation.


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