Pesticide Storage and Security
Philip Nixon, Extension Specialist, Dept. Nat. Res. &
Environ. Sci., 217-333-6650, firstname.lastname@example.org
and Bruce Paulsrud, Extension Specialist, Dept. of Crop Sci.,
Proper storage is important in keeping pesticides in good condition
for use next year as well as keeping children and unauthorized
people from tampering with these products. Pesticides should not
be exposed to temperatures over 110 degrees F. or breakdown and
loss of effectiveness can occur. Also, check the pesticide label
to see if you should guard against freezing temperatures. Store
your herbicides separately from insecticides, fungicides and other
pesticides to avoid their contamination from herbicide fumes.
Pesticides should be kept locked up except when they are being
used. Even when you remove a container of pesticide for use, you
should keep the storage area locked while mixing and loading the
sprayer, spreader, or other application equipment. Even if the
storage area is in sight of the mixing and loading area, you may
be called away to the phone or to assist someone else. Just a
few minutes absence can be enough for a child or other person
to find the storage area and become poisoned. With today's concern
about terrorism, an unauthorized person entering the area may
be more than a curious passerby. Sprayers, spreaders, and other
pesticide application equipment should also be kept locked up
and secured to protect it from tampering and accidents. Be especially
watchful and suspicious of unauthorized people in these areas.
In addition to being kept locked, the pesticide storage area
should be plainly labeled as a pesticide storage area. A sign
stating "Danger - Pesticides - Keep Out" or similar
information should be appropriate. If you have Hispanic employees
who do not read English, then the warning should also be in Spanish.
A list of stored pesticides should be kept in your office and
with the local fire department. There should also be a map or
other information as to which particular building and part of
the building contains pesticides. This information can be very
useful to the fire department for the protection of firefighters
as well as avoiding environmental contamination from pesticide
being carried away with water used to fight the fire.
Near the pesticide storage area there should be soap and water
for washing any pesticide off of your hands or other skin areas.
Maintain an eyewash station or at least have a faucet or hose
for splashes into the eye. The first aid for eye exposure by many
pesticides is to wash the eyeball with running water for at least
fifteen minutes. Have a fire extinguisher handy because many pesticides
are flammable. An absorbent material should be available for any
liquid pesticide spills. This may be sawdust, kitty litter, oil
dry, or specialized absorbent pads or "snakes" to surround
and contain spills. Have a broom, dustpan, and trash can to pick
up and store any dry spills or absorbed liquid spills until they
can be disposed of properly. Pesticide labels will have a telephone
number to contact the pesticide company on the proper method to
dispose of spilled pesticide. Local emergency personnel such as
fire and police departments as well as the Illinois Environmental
Protection Agency can also provide assistance.
Use the following checklist to improve the safety and security
of your facility and pesticide storage area:
- For safety reasons, label your pesticide storage building
with a sign stating "Danger-Pesticides-Keep Out" and
post a list of emergency contacts at the main entrance to the
storage area. Include the names, addresses, and phone numbers
of at least two key employees, and the number for the police
and the fire department. In addition, "Emergency: Dial
911" and the Illinois Poison Center (800-222-1222; this
number works nation-wide) should also be listed.
- Keep inventory records of pesticides up to date and easily
accessible. A current inventory list and map clearly showing
which building(s) or parts of buildings contain pesticides should
be kept with the fire department in case there is a fire at
- Have a complete label and Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)
for every product on the premises.
- Ensure pesticide storage areas are locked and secure when
unattended and strictly limit access to storage areas by limiting
and tracking who has keys.
- Storage areas should be well lighted and sturdy so any attempt
to force entry will require a substantial effort that can be
noticed and reported. To enhance security, provide adequate
outside lighting and consider using a surveillance system or
- Block ramps and driveways at night and disable forklifts and
other equipment that could be used during a theft. Secure application
equipment to prevent sabotage, theft, and misuse. Inspect storage
areas and equipment regularly.
- Be alert to strangers that "snoop" around the facility
and ask unusual questions and also to purchasers who:
- seem unfamiliar with details of using a pesticide (ask
them a few casual pest or pesticide usage questions), act
nervous, seem uneasy or vague, and avoid eye contact;
- demand immediate possession of purchased material rather
than future delivery;
- ask for material in smaller, individual containers rather
than in bulk;
- insist on paying with cash instead of using credit or
In addition to your regular sales records (only licensed applicators
may purchase restricted-use pesticides and the dealer is required
to keep records), keep a log of suspicious persons or activities
by writing down the date, suspicious activity, a physical description
of the person, license plate number, and vehicle description.
In the event of a theft or any signs of tampering or attempts
to force entry, contact the police and provide them with a copy
of your log book.
Be proactive and discuss pesticide safety, storage, and security
issues with your employees.
For information on pesticide safety, visit http://www.pesticidesafety.uiuc.edu
The following agencies can be contacted to report possible pesticide
terrorism: FBI- Chicago Office at (312) 431-1333; National Response
System at (312) 353-2318; EPA Emergency Planning and Community
Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) hotline at (800) 424-9346; or National
Pesticide Telecommunications System at (800) 858-7378.