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Competency Area 8: Protecting Humans from Pesticide Exposure

PO 59. Recognize procedures to follow when a pesticide spill occurs.

The most hazardous activities involving pesticides are mixing and loading of concentrates. The following procedures are recommended for cleaning up small spills or spills that will not contaminate water. Remember to wear all protective clothing indicated on the pesticide label during the entire cleaning process.
1. Contain the spill. Do everything possible to immediately stop the leak or spill. If the material is a liquid, construct a dam to prevent it from spreading.
2. Isolate the contaminated area. Rope off the area or use chalk to draw a line around it. Keep people at least 30 feet away from the spill.
3. Soak up the spill. Spread an absorbent material such as vermiculite, fine sand, or sawdust over the entire spill.
4.Collect the material for disposal. Sweep or shovel the contaminated absorbent material into a heavy-duty plastic bag.
5. Decontaminate the area. For floors, work a decontamination agent (usually hydrated lime or a high pH detergent) into the spill area with a coarse broom. Add fresh absorbent material to soak up the now contaminated cleaning solution. Sweep or shovel the contaminated material into a heavy-duty plastic bag. Repeat this procedure several times to ensure thorough decontamination. For soils, shovel the top 2 to 3 inches of soil into a heavy-duty plastic bag. Next, cover the area with at least 2 inches of lime. Finally, cover the lime with clean topsoil. Minor spills can sometimes be cleaned up by immediately applying activated charcoal to the contaminated surface.
6. Clean up contaminated vehicles and equipment. Use a mixture of liquid bleach and alkaline detergent to clean metal surfaces. Porous materials and equipment such as brooms, leather gloves, and sponges cannot be decontaminated effectively and, therefore, must be disposed of.
7. Dispose of contaminated materials. Remember that this includes contaminated absorbent materials, soil, and porous equipment. Check with your state regulatory agency to find of these materials. Most can be disposed of in a licensed sanitary landfill, but some contaminated materials are considered hazardous waste and require special handling.

For major spills, or spills that may contaminate water, follow the first three steps under the directions for cleaning up minor spills. Then call the CHEMTREC telephone number (800) 424-9300. A qualified person will answer and direct you regarding what procedures to follow and whom to notify. If necessary, the area coordinator will dispatch a pesticide safety team to the site.

Spills may also require notification steps to other authorities. If a state highway is the site of a spill, notify the highway patrol and the state highway department. If food is contaminated, notify state or federal food and drug authorities and city, county or state health officials. If water is contaminated, notify public health authorities; regional, state, or federal water quality or water pollution authorities; and the state fish and game agency.