No job is really finished until the pesticides, containers, and your equipment have been put away properly. Get into the habit of storing all of your materials safely before you clean up and go home, or on to the next job. While you are cleaning up and putting away the pesticides, containers, and equipment you should wear all the personal protective equipment you used on the job. Consider wearing gloves and other protective equipment, even if they weren't recommended on the label. Spills and accidental contamination often occur during storage procedures.
Most applicators use existing buildings or areas within existing buildings for pesticide storage. However, if you use large amounts of pesticides and/or equipment, it would be best to build a special storage building just for your pesticide needs. If possible, use a separate building for your pesticide storage. If you do not have a separate building, choose a wing or corner on the first floor of a building.
Before you build a new structure, you should look into suggestions and plans for pesticide storage put out by state colleges, chemical companies, county extension agents, etc. When you are setting up any new storage area be sure to check federal, state, and local regulations on storage areas.
Whether you choose a site to build a new storage area or use existing buildings, you need to consider several points. The site should be in an area where flooding is unlikely. It should be downwind and downhill from sensitive areas such as houses, ponds, and play areas. There should be no chance that runoff or drainage from the site could contaminate surface or groundwater. Sites should be selected so that the soil, geologic, and hydrologic characteristics will not lead to contamination of any water systems through runoff or percolation.
Pesticides should be stored in a cool, dry, airy room or building which is fireproof. Fans are an important feature of any pesticide storage building. A properly installed ventilation system should have a switch outside, so that the fan can be turned on before anyone enters the facility. The storage area should be fenced in or at least able to be locked tightly. Weatherproof warning signs should be hung over every door and window. Pesticides, which may be in tank rinsate, spills, seepage from the storage, and heavy runoff from fire fighting or floods, must be controlled. Otherwise, they may contaminate surface or groundwater. Dikes, collecting pools, and washing slabs with sumps will provide a proper drainage system and may be required. All the collected runoff water should be treated as a surplus pesticide and disposed of properly. A good supply of detergent or soap, hand cleanser, and water is a must in the storage area. It's convenient for filling tanks, cleaning off equipment, and for you and your help to clean up with. It's also quick first aid in a poisoning emergency. Adsorptive clay, activated charcoal, vermiculite, pet litter, or sawdust should be readily available at the storage site to soak up spills and leaks. Hydrated lime and high pH commercial detergent should also be on hand to neutralize the pesticide in an emergency. A shovel, broom, dustpan, and a fire extinguisher are other "musts" in any storage area.
A pesticide storage area, whether it is a room or a whole building, should be used only for pesticides and pesticide equipment. Never store or use food, drinks, silverware, tobacco products, or personal protective clothing in the storage or loading area. Livestock feed, living plants, and seeds should never be stored with or near pesticides.
Avoid Hot Places. Glass and metal containers of liquid pesticides should be stored where they are not in the sun or near other sources of heat, such as steam pipes, furnaces, etc. Store pesticides at temperatures above freezing or as directed on the label. Do not store liquid pesticide in a place where the temperature can fall below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or go above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Protect sensitive pesticides from freezing. Freezing will destroy the usefulness of some pesticide products. Freezing may also cause liquid pesticides to break their containers, resulting in leakage. Heat will cause the liquid to expand so that the contents will be under pressure. Therefore, when the container is opened the pesticide could splash out on you. No pesticides should be allowed to become overheated. Some formulations will catch on fire if they get too hot, while others lose their strength and break down when they are exposed to heat. Still others will vaporize and become a health hazard.
Special Areas. Herbicides should be stored in a special place apart from other pesticides, fertilizers, and seeds or bulbs. Some herbicides can vaporize and get into other pesticides nearby. When the contaminated pesticide is used, the herbicide vapors in it could injure or kill crops and sensitive plants. All highly toxic pesticides should be stored together in a special area. Then you and your helper working in that area can take special precautions to keep from being exposed. Also, you are less likely to use a highly toxic pesticide by accident. A special "disposal" area should be used for surplus pesticides and their containers being held for disposal. They should be grouped together and plainly labeled according to how you plan to dispose of them. This will help prevent mix-ups resulting in improper disposal and accidental reuse.
Pesticide containers should be stored with the label in plain sight. They should be stored up off the floor, especially if they can be damaged by dampness. Rigid containers should always be set in an upright position so they cannot spill. All containers should be placed in orderly rows with enough room to allow you and your helpers to walk between them.
Damaged Containers. All pesticide containers should be checked often for corrosion, leaks, loose caps, or bungs. You must correct these dangerous conditions immediately. Pesticides should be stored in their original container with the label attached. If containers are damaged, however, you should put the pesticide in a sound and suitable larger container, which can be sealed and labeled. Oftentimes the label from the damaged container can be firmly fastened to the new container. Paper drums or plastic bags placed within another container are handy for this purpose. Unlabeled pesticides are dangerous since you don't know what they are or how to use them. They should be set aside and held for disposal. Partly empty pesticide containers should be resealed and returned to storage. Opened containers of chlorates (often used as weed killers) should not be stored. They can burst into flames at any time.
Improper Containers. Pesticides should be stored in their original containers, with the label plainly visible and the seal cap securely closed. Containers should be dated when purchased. Outdated material should be discarded. To reduce the chances for improper storage, a complete inventory should be maintained indicating the amount, identity, and date of material purchased. Pesticides should never be stored in soda bottles, fruit jars, milk cartons, etc. Storing pesticides in improper containers such as these is a common cause of pesticide poisoning. Never dump a little of your tank mix in a jar and give it to someone.
All pesticide application equipment should be stored in a special area. The equipment could be contaminated with pesticides. All items used for handling pesticides at the storage site, which might be used for other purposes, should be labeled "contaminated with pesticides" and should not be removed from the site unless thoroughly decontaminated. Never let children or uninformed people play on or around your equipment. They could pick up a harmful dose of pesticide. Do not store pesticides next to food, feed, or other articles intended for consumption by humans or animals. Always wash your equipment carefully before you store it. Thoroughly rinse off the outside while it is parked in the special wash area. Do not allow rinse water to get on the ground and into streams, ponds, or other sensitive areas. Collect it and hold for proper disposal. All movable pesticide equipment should have a sign: "Danger. Pesticides" to warn people to stay away. Delivery trucks, nurse tanks, and other support equipment should also be rinsed thoroughly and stored. Materials such as adsorptive clay, hydrated lime, and high pH commercial detergent should be available for use as appropriate emergency cleanup agents for spills or leaks. Keep a shovel, broom, dustpan, absorbent material, container for disposal, and sprinkler can for decontamination and cleanup of spilled materials.
A little care and common sense can help prevent many accidents and emergencies in the storage area. You and your helpers should know the basic safety rules and follow them. You should also know what to do in case of an emergency. Make a list of safety procedures and post it in the storage area. Be sure that everyone follows these rules.
In spite of all safety precautions, accidents can happen. If a pesticide spills in your storage area, quick action must be taken. If the pesticide gets on anyone, wash it off immediately. Have them get out of the area, wash thoroughly, change clothes, and see a doctor if necessary. Clear the storage area except for a small clean-up crew. Be sure the crew wears the proper personal protective equipment. Notify the authorities as described in Chapter III under SARA Title III, Section 304, Emergency Release Reporting, if the spilled pesticide is covered by SARA, or by contacting federal, state, or local pesticide authorities.
If the spill is a liquid, throw activated charcoal, absorptive clay, vermiculite, pet litter, or sawdust over the entire spill. Use enough to soak up most of the liquid. Then sweep or shovel it into a large drum. If the spill is a dust, granular, or powder, sweep or shovel it directly into a large drum. Sweeping compound can be useful when picking up spills of dry pesticides. Next cover the spill area with a decontamination agent recommended for that particular pesticide. The manufacturer or your supplier may have to be consulted. Hydrated lime and high pH commercial detergents are often recommended. Repeat this procedure several times. Rinse the whole area with plenty of water to wash away any remaining poison. Collect the rinse water and hold it for proper disposal. Check your storage area carefully to see if any other pesticides were contaminated by the spill. If so, do not take a chance on using them dispose of them as well. When you are all finished, seal the drum tightly and store for disposal.
Inform your local fire department, hospital, public health officials, and police of the location of your pesticide storage building. Warn them of possible hazards and of proper protective clothing to wear in case of fire. Suggest that they wear air-supplied respirators and chemical resistant clothing. They should avoid breathing or contacting the smoke or fumes at all times. If they do contact the smoke and fumes, they should get out of the area fast and wash off. Post signs around the area and, if possible, give fire department officials a floor plan of the storage area. Keep all people without protective gear away from the fire. Anyone who might contact the smoke, fumes, or contaminated surfaces must be removed from the area. Because it could be poisonous, all water used in fire fighting should be contained in the storage area drainage system for safe disposal.
Monitoring System. If you store large quantities of pesticides, consider setting up an environmental monitoring system. Arrange to have samples taken from water, wildlife, and plants near the storage area. The samples should be assessed to be sure that no pesticides are getting out into the environment.
Make it a habit! Store your pesticides and equipment properly before you clean up and go home, or on to the next job.
Disclaimer: Please read the pesticide label prior to use. The information contained at this web site is not a substitute for a pesticide label. Trade names used herein are for convenience only; no endorsement of products is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products implied. Most of this information is historical in nature and may no longer be applicable.