Tending to a lawn and garden can be a great way to spend time in the great outdoors. It’s also an enjoyable way to improve a home’s curb appeal.
Though many homeowners prefer a wholly organic approach to lawn care and gardening, sometimes pests and other problems force people to apply pesticides around their properties. The application of pesticides can make homeowners, and anyone who spends time on their properties, including children, vulnerable to pesticide poisoning.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, people exposed to pesticides may exhibit a host of symptoms. External irritants that come into contact with the skin can cause redness, itching or pimples, and such substances also may contribute to allergic reactions marked by redness, swelling or blistering.
Stinging and swelling in the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, mouth, and throat also may occur after being exposed to pesticides.
Pesticides also can cause internal injuries to a person’s organs, potentially leading to significant issues. The EPA notes that the lungs, stomach and nervous system all can be affected when pesticides are swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. People experiencing lung injuries after exposure to pesticides may experience shortness of breath, heavy salivation (drooling) or rapid breathing.
Injuries to the stomach may lead to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps or diarrhea. If the nervous system is affected by pesticide exposure, people may experience excessive fatigue, sleepiness, headache, muscle twitching and numbness.
If pesticide poisoning is suspected, it’s imperative that someone, be it the person who was poisoned, the parent of a child who may have been exposed or a medical professional treating the affected person, identify the type of poisoning that has occurred. That’s because the EPA notes that the appropriate treatment will depend on the kind of poisoning that has occurred.
Chemical burn on skin
If treating a chemical burn on the skin, the EPA advises drenching the skin with water for at least 15 minutes. All contaminated clothing should be removed, and then skin and hair should be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water.
The response to an inhaled poison will depend on where the person is at the time of exposure. If outside, move the person away from any area recently treated with pesticide. If inside, move the person to fresh air immediately. (Doors and windows should ultimately be opened to reduce the risk of others being exposed.)
Contact the local fire department if you think you need a respirator prior to helping the victim. If the victim is wearing tight clothing, loosen that clothing.
Give artificial respiration to a victim whose skin is blue or if the victim has stopped breathing.
Substance in the eye
If a poison has entered the eye, wash the eye quickly and gently with cool running water for 15 minutes or more. Use only water and do not use eye drops, chemicals or drugs.
It’s imperative that people act quickly if a substance has gotten into the eye, as membranes in the eyes act faster than in any other external part of the body, and eye damage can occur within minutes of exposure.
Substance on the skin
Drench the skin with water for at least 15 minutes, and then wash skin and hair thoroughly. Discard contaminated clothing or thoroughly wash it separate from other laundry.
If a pesticide has been swallowed and the victim is still conscious, he or she should drink a small amount of water to dilute the pesticide. Only induce vomiting on the advice of a poison control center or physician.
Pesticide exposure can be very dangerous. It’s imperative that people who plan to apply pesticides in their lawns and gardens learn how to respond if they or someone on their property is exposed to pesticides.