Prioritize safety when storing chemicals

Published 6:39 am Wednesday, September 19, 2018


Ag Notes

As you prepare to store leftover chemicals over the winter, it’s important to follow good storage procedures. Developing proper chemical-storage habits can prevent tragedies and keep pesticides from falling into the wrong hands.

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Container labels have instructions to help you properly store chemicals. This information includes temperature restrictions or warnings against temperature fluctuations, among other storage instructions.

All chemicals should be stored tightly sealed in the original containers with original labels.

Store chemicals by class. For example, keep combustible products away from flammable products. Also, separate chemicals with different purposes. For instance, store herbicides away from insecticides and do the same with fungicides.

Remember to keep chemicals out of direct sunlight. It’s also important to avoid temperature extremes, especially with liquid chemicals because freezing temperatures can reduce their effectiveness. Most dry formulations are less sensitive to low temperatures than the liquids.

Store chemicals in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location, preferably with an inward-slanting concrete floor. Putting chemicals on pallets or shelves reduces moisture accumulation that might lead to a spill from disintegrated bags or rusted cans.

There are several reasons to store chemicals in one location. You can put product-use booklets and Material Safety Data Sheets in a notebook stored nearby so you will know what precautions to take with chemicals.  Another advantage is that you can store protective gear, bagged or in a closable plastic bag, in the same location to avoid having to search for it later on.

Having all chemicals in one location also makes it easier for you to take a regular inventory. An inventory is especially important to identify banned chemicals.  Follow the manufacturer’s label instructions to immediately remove these products. In case of a fire, the inventory will have which chemicals and how much of each is in the storage facility. Keeping an inventory also helps you avoid buying duplicate products.

Ideally, the chemical storage building should be separate from other farm uses to prevent cross contamination of fertilizers, seed, fuel and oil. Be sure the building is not close to ponds and streams or in an area prone to flooding.

Check the concrete floor for cracks or breaks that could increase the risk of groundwater contamination from a spill or fire. Have cleanup equipment on hand for spills.

The building also should be secure and easy to lock when you leave. This will keep it inaccessible to children, pets and livestock.

Strictly enforce a no-smoking policy for people working around or entering the pesticide storage area.

In case of accidents, put fire extinguishers in the storage location and nearby buildings.

Also, keep a first-aid box, with lots of eye wash, in the storage building. Also, post the Poison Control Center telephone number (1-800-222-1222) in the storage area, along with all farm telephone numbers.

You have several options to chemical storage.  You can ask the dealer to accept an unopened container; read the label to see if the product is labeled for a different problem; or give the chemical to someone who can use it.

Jerry Little is the Boyle County extension agent for agriculture/natural resources.