Pesticides can protect us from bugs and disease, but they can get into our food and water and harm us, too. Here are some tips for protecting your child’s food:
• Wash all fresh fruits and veggies with water before your child eats them.
• Give your child fresh fruits and veggies that are in season. They are less likely to have been heavily sprayed.
• When possible, avoid giving your children foods that have been treated with chemical pesticides. Look for locally and organically grown.
How else can we protect our kids from pests (ants, roaches, mice) and the harmful chemicals in pesticides?
• Remove food and water that might attract pests. Leaky water pipes can attract thirsty pests.
• Destroy places where pests can live and breed. Examples: litter, plant debris.
• If you decide to use a pesticide, read the label first. Follow the directions exactly. Pay special attention to warnings, cautions and restrictions.
• Whenever you can, use non-chemical pesticides. But remember, even natural ingredients can sometimes be poisonous. Always read the label.
• Use only the amount recommended. Don’t think that twice the amount will do twice the job!
• If the label says so, wear plastic gloves, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when using a pesticide. Be careful not to inhale fumes while applying.
• Cover all food before using a pesticide indoors.
• Keep children, their toys and pets away from the area where a pesticide is being used. Wait until the area has dried or until the label says it’s safe for them to come back.
• Don’t spray outside on a windy or rainy day.
• When using a pesticide outside, be sure it doesn’t blow or run into the swimming pool, the vegetable garden, the sandbox, or the neighbor’s yard.
• Don’t buy more than you need. If you have leftover pesticides, check with your local government. Some communities have special programs to collect and dispose of hazardous products.
• If you use a pest-control service, ask them for information about the risks and safety precautions for their products.
• Put the phone number of the Poison Control Center near your phone: (800) 222-1222.
• Store pesticides out of children’s reach. Use a locked cabinet or garden shed. Child-proof safety latches are also a good idea. You can buy them at a hardware or home-supply store.
• Never put a pesticide in a container that children might think is food or drink. For instance, a jar or bottle with a liquid pesticide might look like something to drink.
• Never place ant, roach, mice or rat bait where small children can get to them.
• Teach your children that pesticides are poison and that they shouldn’t touch them.
• Tell baby-sitters and grandparents about the dangers of pesticides.
The Environmental Protection Agency has more information about how to prevent poisonings in your home.