Andrew Thostenson, Pesticide Specialist
Some formulations and containers of pesticides can survive flooding without harm and be saved for future use. Others are ruined when wet and must be properly disposed of to minimize their potential harm.
Pesticides may have contaminated waters in flooded areas. Everyone concerned should take responsibility to prevent further contamination.
Pesticides in unbroken, waterproof containers can usually be salvaged. Salvageable pesticides may include:
Liquid concentrates in glass, metal, or plastic containers. If liquids have a milky appearance, water has probably leaked in, and the pesticide should be properly disposed of. Clear liquid concentrates are probably unharmed.
Oil solutions such as livestock sprays designed for direct application without dilution, or oil based household sprays. Water can be readily seen in oil solutions. Separate the oil and water then return the spray to the original container.
Pressurized cans or "bug Bombs."
Baits, powders, or granules in waterproof containers.
Labels on salvaged containers will probably be loosened by floodwaters. Labels should be firmly refastened to the containers. Unlabeled pesticides are dangerous to the handler and the environment, since there is the possibility that they might not be used correctly. If there is any question about the contents of a container, set it aside for disposal.
Dispose of any flooded pesticide dusts, wettable powders, or soluble powders packaged in paper or cardboard containers.
If pesticides in these containers have become wet, chemical changes may occur, and the formulation may become hard and/or lumpy so that it cannot be properly suspended in water or used as a dust.
Use care when handling these containers, since they may be so weak and soggy that they will break when handled. Some pesticides may have unpredictable reactions in the presence of water. Properly dispose of any containers that can't be identified because of wet, illegible, or missing labels.
The recommended method for pesticide disposal is to preregister with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture to bring the pesticides to the next Project Safe Send collection program. Preregistration forms are available from the North Dakota Department of Agriculture or from NDSU Extension Service county offices. Call the North Dakota Department of Agriculture at (800)242-7535 for more information.
If unsure of the correct procedure for disposal, contact the regional EPA office, the state regulatory agency involved with pesticides, or the local Extension Service for directions and help in disposing of damaged pesticides.
Be aware of any illness arising after handling pesticides or pesticide wastes.
Symptoms of pesticide poisoning frequently include headache, nausea, diarrhea, visual disturbances, excessive salivation or sweating, difficulty in breathing, weakness, tremor or convulsions.
Symptoms usually appear within 24 hours, although occasionally they may be delayed for several days. Consult the pesticide label or Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for information regarding poisoning. See a doctor immediately or contact your local poison resource center if symptoms appear. Be sure to provide a copy of the label and/or MSDS to the doctor.