Pesticide-Illness Prevention Begins at Home

August, 2018

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Would you want to drink a cup of bleach or other household disinfectant? How about a weed killer?

Types of Pesticides graph

Almost everyone would answer "no" to those questions. Unfortunately, a surprising number of Californians are injured each year by accidentally consuming pesticides – such as household sanitizers and disinfectants, and insecticides and herbicides that are improperly stored.

"Accidental ingestion" of pesticides resulted in 502 reported injuries between 2005 and 2015.*

Most of the accidental ingestion cases occurred at home (88%, 440). Over half of poisonings involved children 6 and under (55%, 276).

How does it happen?

In most of these cases (47 percent), a pesticide was placed or stored in a food or beverage container – like a water bottle. Storing pesticides in food or beverage containers is actually illegal, and can be deadly.

Another factor in accidental ingestions was accessibility (about a quarter of all reported illnesses). In most cases, a child gained access because products were left out in the open or left in an unsecured cabinet.

Fortunately, most people sickened did not require hospitalization. However, 35 people did, with the average hospital stay being 7 days –primarily due to ingestion of insecticides and herbicides.

Locked cabinets

The conclusion that can be drawn from the data is clear enough: Most reported accidental ingestions in California occur in the home, and mostly involve household sanitizing/disinfectant products that are stored in food containers and/or products left in places that children can access.

Importantly, all these could also have been prevented.

Protect yourself and your family, never store pesticides in food or beverage containers, and keep pesticides, including antimicrobial cleaners, out of reach of children. Also, always read the label before using.

* The California Department of Pesticide Regulation's Pesticide Illness Surveillance Program data.

For content questions, contact:
Craig Cassidy
Public Information Officer I
DPR Office of Communications
1001 I Street, P.O. Box 4015
Sacramento, CA 95812-4015
Phone: (916) 445-5815