State Health Department Urges Careful Pest Control Practices

ALBANY, NY, April 20, 2005 - State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., today reminded New Yorkers to take precautions and follow manufacturer directions when applying pesticides to their property. Handled properly, pesticides can be useful to control pests typically found in and around the home, lawn, landscape and garden.

"This time of year brings with it spring cleaning and lawn maintenance. Before using pesticides, it's important to consider whether they are really necessary," Dr. Novello said. "In cases where pesticides are applied, carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions on the label."

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Acting Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan said, "We work closely with the State Health Department to promote proper pesticide use. The careful use of pesticides will help reduce potential health risk to people and our surrounding natural resources."

In many situations, it is possible to eliminate or reduce a pest problem without using chemical pesticides through methods known as integrated pest management (IPM). By following the IPM tips below, individuals can help safeguard their family and pets, the public and environment:

  • Prevent pest problems by cleaning house, yard and garden to remove places where pests can live. Keep pests outdoors by making sure that screens are in good condition and cracks in the home's foundation and siding are sealed.
  • Regularly "scout" the home and property for pest problems. If a problem arises, identify the pest and the extent of infestation.
  • To avoid the use of pesticides, first try using non-chemical management methods, such as predators and parasites (ladybugs, nematodes, etc.) or physical methods (like hand-weeding, letting the lawn grow longer, mulching landscapes, and/or setting traps).

Always keep pesticides in their original containers and store them apart from family foods, medicines and toiletries. Community household hazardous waste collection programs provide for the proper disposal of unused pesticides.

Recommendations for reducing the potential exposure to pesticides:

  • Never smoke or eat while handling pesticides.
  • Wear protective clothing as recommended on the pesticide product label. Always wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, non-absorbent gloves and shoes, eye protection and dust/mist filtering mask when handling pesticides.
  • Mix or dilute pesticides outdoors in a well-ventilated area. Mix only the amount needed to complete the task.
  • Keep children, pets and toys away from areas where pesticides are mixed and applied until the pesticide has dried or for as long as is stated on the label.
  • Avoid indoor broadcast or total-release applications such as carpet spray or foggers when possible. If these treatments are needed, applications should only be used when everyone is out of the home – this includes the removal of all pets. The home must be thoroughly ventilated following the use of the application (follow manufacturer directions).
  • Clean up spills promptly according to label directions. Generally, liquid pesticides can be sprinkled with sawdust, kitty litter or vermiculite and swept into a plastic bag for proper disposal.
  • Wash exposed skin; rinse gloves, shoes or boots; change clothes after applying pesticides.

If you experience health symptoms after exposure to a pesticide, you should

For information about reducing exposure to pesticides, visit the State Health Department's web site at:; DEC's web site at:; or contact the National Pesticide Information Center at 1-800-858-7378. In addition, please visit the Cornell Cooperative Extension web site at for information on the proper use of pesticides.