Protect Yourself From Harmful Chemicals While Landscaping

You may use a variety of chemicals while landscaping, including herbicides, pesticides and fungicides. While these chemicals are often necessary for the proper care and maintenance of gardens, lawns and other parcels of land, they are all inherently dangerous and need to be handled and stored safely.

Risks When Using Chemicals

Many of the chemicals you use on the job are meant to kill living things, such as insects, plants or weeds. They are essentially poisons that can have negative effects on your health.

There are four types of exposure to harmful chemicals:

  1. Dermal – getting chemicals on your skin
    • The most common exposure; can cause mild to severe dermatitis (skin inflammation)
  2. Oral – swallowing chemicals
    Can damage the digestive system and enter the bloodstream, where they can quickly spread
  3. Inhalation – breathing in chemicals
    • Can lead to chemical pneumonitis (inflammation of the lungs)
  4. Ocular – getting chemicals in your eyes 
    • Can lead to visual impairment or even disfigurement 

While landscaping chemicals are only intended for use outdoors, residues can be carried away by wind and contaminate indoor air, dust and carpets in a home. This is especially problematic for young children and the elderly, as they are more susceptible to negative health effects from exposure to chemicals. Always remember to follow chemical application guidelines to limit exposure to chemicals.

Choose the Right PPE

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates that all pesticide products be labeled. The label will include short-term toxicity of the product and the manufacturer’s personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements for application. For other types of chemicals, always s check the label before application and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for safe use.

There are a variety of PPE options for working with chemicals. Different types of PPE include:

  • Chemical-resistant materials: Prevent the movement of certain chemicals through the material to your skin for a limited period of time. No material claims to be chemical-proof. There are several different chemical-resistant material options.