Pesticide poisoning can happen anytime of the year. However, since spring and summer is when most pesticides are used in the lawn and garden, the possibility of pesticide poisoning increases during these months.
The symptoms of pesticide poisoning are quite variable and, unfortunately, may mimic other types of illness. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, headache, dizziness, weakness, confusion, excessive sweating, chills, thirst, chest pains, breathing difficulty, muscle aches or cramps.
These symptoms are common with many illnesses or with overindulgence in food or drink.
If these symptoms occur during or after pesticide activities, pesticide poisoning should be suspected.
Some pesticides are toxic in very small amounts. Victims may not realize that they have been poisoned.
If pesticide poisoning is suspected, get medical help immediately. Do not leave the victim alone. When taking the patient to the doctor or hospital, take the pesticide label or the entire container along.
Following are some first aid steps in the event of poisoning:
• Protect yourself and stop the pesticide exposure as quickly as possible.
• If the victim is not breathing, administer artificial respiration at once.
• Consult the pesticide labeling if possible. Directions for first aid will be on the front panel.
Otherwise, follow these guidelines:
• Pesticide on skin: Drench skin as quickly as possible with plenty of water. Any moderately clean water can be used if not contaminated with pesticides. Remove contaminated clothing. Wash with soap if available. Dry victim and treat for shock. If skin is burned, cover with clean, loose bandage or cloth. Do not apply ointments to burned skin.
• Pesticide in eye: Wash eye quickly but gently with clean water for 15 minutes.
• Inhaled pesticide: Move victim to fresh air. Warn other nearby people. Loosen clothing that restricts breathing. Administer artificial respiration if necessary.
• Pesticide in mouth or swallowed: Rinse mouth with plenty of water. Give large amounts of water or milk (up to one quart) to drink. Consult the label before vomiting is induced. Do not give liquids or induce vomiting to anyone who is unconscious or convulsive.
Remember to keep the phone number of the Poison Control Center. The number is (800) 222-1222. Call the Poison Control Center and 911 if needed.
Clark Beusse is the Dawson County extension agent. For more information, call (706) 265-2442.