Pesticides aren’t cheap, so it is important to take care of them. Pesticides can become degraded or unusable during the winter months if not stored properly. Some pesticides can be degraded with extreme temperatures or high humidity. This can result in crystallization or caking depending on the product. With that in mind, here are some important practices to help store pesticides safely and securely.
Keep Pesticides in Original Containers
Always store pesticides in their original containers. The original container is made of the appropriate material to store a pesticide for long periods. The container is resistant to the chemicals in the product. Containers also have their original labeling with storage, disposal, and emergency information. Use transparent tape as needed to secure labels to their containers.
Look for Leaks
When preparing pesticides for winter, inspect the integrity of containers. Bags should be checked for tears or leaks. Bags that have been opened should be placed inside durable plastic bags that can be sealed to keep out moisture. Bottle and jugs should be checked for leaks; make sure caps are properly tightened.
Keep an Inventory
At the end of the season, update your inventory of pesticides. With this inventory, include the trade name of the pesticides, name of the active ingredient, formulation, year of purchase, and the amount of product remaining. Try to keep your pesticide inventory low, purchase only what you plan to use in a given year.
Date the Containers
In the fall, check to make sure the date of purchase is written on each container with indelible marker. This helps in rotating the product so that the older containers are used first. Shelf life varies among pesticides. Some have a relatively short shelf and do not carry over well from year to year. Clumping, poor suspension, abnormal coloration may be indications of degraded pesticides.
Segregate Your Pesticides
Store insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides in separate groups. This can be on separate pallets, shelves, or tote boxes. Keep pesticide containers off the floor, with dry materials stored above the liquids.
Check Storage Requirements
At the end of a pesticide label, there is a section for Storage and Disposal for that particular product. This section will indicate the conditions under which the product should be stored. Check labels for each of the different pesticides in storage. Many products need to be stored in heated buildings that stay above 32°F.
Secure the Area
Store pesticides in a locked area (cabinet, room, or building), so that animals and people unfamiliar with pesticides safety to not encounter them. Be sure the storage area is well ventilated to reduce buildup of fumes and well-lit to be able to read pesticide labels and notice leaking containers. Select a location that is not in danger of flooding and free of water leaks. Store pesticides at least 100 feet from the nearest stream, pond, or wellhead. Have a plan to contain leaks from pesticide containers if they rupture. Containment in the storage area should have a capacity of 110% of the largest container. I store bottle and liquid jugs in plastic totes that could contain a spill. Do not store other materials (such as food or feed) in this area; this should be a place designated only for pesticide storage. Do not store pesticides near an open flame. The floor of the area should be made of a non-porous material that can be easily cleaned.
Post the Area
Let people know this is a pesticide storage area. Use a “Pesticide Storage Area, Keep Out” sign. Post emergency telephone numbers. Keep a copy of the SDS sheets in case of emergency.
Check Your Spill Kit
Plan ahead and have a spill kit ready in case a spill occurs. Your spill kit should contain PPE to protect yourself (chemical resistant glove, coveralls, boots, goggles, and respirator), absorbent tube sock (containment snake), absorbent pad, absorbent granules, temporary hazardous material storage bag, broom, and dust pad. It is best to store the PPE separately form the pesticides, but where you have immediate access to it. Have an emergency eyewash dispenser available. With a spill, remember the 3 ‘C’s: control the spill, contain the spill, and clean up the spill.
Dispose of Unneeded Materials
Empty containers should be properly rinsed and discarded or recycled appropriately. The label has instructions on how to rinse and handle empty containers. If you have unusable ag pesticides, check with a county Extension office to learn about pesticide amnesty programs that may be available in your area.
A Final Note
Properly storing pesticides protect people and animals from accidental exposure, the environment from accidental contamination, and pesticides from extreme temperatures and moisture.
By Ric Bessin, Entomology Extension Specialist