Be prepared for pesticide spill danger

Farmers should follow five steps after a pesticide spill.

Spills do happen. It may be a small spill that you can handle with a spill kit or one that you are not able to handle yourself. In either case, the trick is to be prepared. When a spill occurs, follow the following steps of proper spill response:

1. CAUTION - Always assess the dangers of a spill or release first. If a spill cannot be controlled or contained without endangering life or safety, call 911 immediately.

2. CONTROL -  If possible, control the source of the spill. Shut valves, plug leaks or set container upright. Note: don’t attempt to control the spill if you don’t have the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to handle dangerous chemicals.

3. CONTAIN - Stop the spread of the spill and contain it to as small of an area as possible and away from groundwater, surface water, wells, storm drains or floor drains. Use a shovel to make a soil berm around the spill or apply an absorbent material such as cat litter.

4. CONTACT - Contact the appropriate authorities. If the spill is a danger to health or safety, immediately call 911. (In Michigan, farmers should contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development hotline, 1-800-405-0101.)

5. CLEAN UP- For a dry spill, use the broom and dustpan to sweep up the product and then dispose of it property or use it as intended. For a wet spill, use cat litter, activated charcoal, soil or sawdust to absorb the chemical, then sweep it up and dispose of it material properly. Take contaminated materials to a Clean Sweep collection site or spread on labeled fields at agronomic rates. Never wash a spill down a drain as most drains lead directly to lakes, rivers or streams.

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