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Tips for Reducing Pesticide Exposure in Your Home

Using Pesticides in Your Home and Garden

Every spring, homeowners use different types of pesticides in their backyards. We all know how important it is to control the chemicals in our environment. Using pesticides the way they are meant to be used is a big step to doing this. Always try to find ways to reduce using pesticides.

What are pesticides?

Pesticides are substances, natural or synthetic, that are used to kill some kind of pest—a plant, animal, insect, or other organism. Pesticides include insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, rodenticides, and germicides.

In Canada, a large percentage of pesticide use is to control weeds. A “stressed” lawn is more likely to have weeds. The most common reasons for stress are fertilizer imbalances, soil compaction, poor watering techniques, and poor mowing practices. A lawn that is properly de-thatched, fertilized, mowed, aerated, and watered will usually have fewer weeds. Less weeds means the less likely it is a herbicide will be used.

How do I apply herbicides?

Wear protective clothing like long sleeves, and gloves. Always follow the instructions on the label carefully.

Spraying Lawns
  • Don’t spray the entire lawn; take out weeds by hand or spot spray them.
  • Don’t spray when it’s windy.

Pest Control

To control insect pests in the home or around the yard, good sanitation, and housekeeping is always the first line of defense. There are some alternatives to using insecticides against insect pests; however, it may take longer to control the problem, and it may not work. Wherever possible, use the least toxic chemicals, such as:

  • borax (to control ants, cockroaches)
  • fatty acid salts or soaps (to control tent caterpillars, mites, aphids)
  • desiccants like diatomaceous earth (to control ants, carpet beetles, cockroaches, fleas, grain beetles)
  • dormant oil (to smother a variety of garden insect pests).

Some people have health problems because of being exposed to pesticides. Be a good neighbour and tell your neighbours ahead of time if pesticides are going to be used on your property. Be considerate of neighbouring vegetable and flower gardens. Be especially careful if there are children or pets that could come into contact with these chemicals.

You can also contact your nearest Environmental Public Health office.

Current as of: December 29, 2017

Author: Environmental Public Health, Alberta Health Services