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PESTICIDES AND CHILD SAFETY

Although pesticides can be beneficial to society, they can be dangerous if used carelessly or if they are not stored properly and out of the reach of children. According to data collected from the American Association of Poison Control Centers, in 1994 alone, an estimated 78,000 children were involved in common household pesticide-related poisonings or exposures in the United States. An additional 21,599 children were exposed to or poisoned by household chlorine bleach.

A survey by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding pesticides used in and around the home revealed some significant findings:

Bathrooms and kitchens were cited as the areas in the home most likely to have improperly stored pesticides. Examples of some common household pesticides found in bathrooms and kitchens include roach sprays; chlorine bleach; kitchen and bath disinfectants; rat poison; insect and wasp sprays, repellents and baits; and, flea and tick shampoos and dips for pets. Other household pesticides include swimming pool chemicals and weed killers.

EPA regulates pesticides in the United States under the pesticide law (the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act). Since 1981, the law has required most residential-use pesticides with a signal word of "danger" or "warning" to be in child-resistant packaging. These are the pesticides which are most toxic to children. Child-resistant packaging is designed to prevent most children under the age of five from gaining access to the pesticide, or at least delay their access. However, individuals must also take precautions to protect children from accidental pesticide poisonings or exposures.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PREVENTING ACCIDENTAL POISONING:

IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY, try to determine what the child was exposed to and what part of the body was affected before you take action, since taking the right action is as important as taking immediate action. If the person is unconscious, having trouble breathing, or having convulsions, give needed first aid immediately. Call 911 or your local emergency service.

If the person is awake, conscious, not having trouble breathing, and not having convulsions, read the label for first aid instructions and contact your local Poison Control Center, physician, 911 or your local emergency number -- remember to act fast because speed is crucial! In most cases, the pesticide products label provides you with a "Statment of Treatment" to follow in emergencies. The appropriate first aid treatment depends on the kind of poisoning that has occurred. If first aid instructions are not available, follow these general guidelines:

GENERAL FIRST AID GUIDELINES:

Written by: The Environmental Protection Agency


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