What to do if you think pesticide exposure made you ill

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  • Call 911 for help if you or anyone else is seriously ill.
  • Get help from a local hospital or healthcare provider.
  • For less serious cases, call your doctor or call the Poison Control Center, 1-800-222-1222 for free, immediate first aid information and assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Explain how you may have been exposed to a pesticide. If possible, bring the pesticide container or label with you when you call or seek care. The label provides important information about the pesticide.

How can I be exposed to pesticides?

Pesticide exposure can occur when you come into contact with a pesticide, and it enters the body through ingestion, inhalation, or contact with the skin or eyes. If a pesticide is in the air, it can be inhaled and may pass from the lungs into the blood stream. If it is in food or water, or if accidentally swallowed, it can enter through the stomach. Exposure to skin, eyes, nose, and throat can also cause irritation or burns.

Types of Pesticides

A pesticide is any substance used to prevent, destroy, repel, or mitigate any pest. There are many different types of pesticides, each meant to kill or control specific pests. Some common types include:

  • Antimicrobials and Disinfectants - germs and microbes, such as bacteria and viruses
  • Fungicides - fungi like molds, mildews, and rusts
  • Herbicides including plant growth regulators and algaecides - plants or weeds
  • Insecticides including insect growth regulators - insects and arachnids
  • Repellents - repel insects and arachnids, such as mosquitoes, ticks, and mites
  • Rodenticides - rodents like mice, rats, and gophers
  • Wood Preservatives - make wood resistance to insects, fungi, and other pests

How can I report a pesticide exposure or misuse?

  • You can also call your County Agricultural Commissioner's office. You can link to the number, or you can get it by calling toll-free 1-87PestLine (1-877-378-5463) and be connected directly.
  • You may also call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
  • To file a complaint with CalEPA, use this online form to file an environmental complaint with the California Environmental Protection Agency.

Where can I get more information?