The word “pesticide” inherently has a negative connotation, after all anything that ends with “cide” refers to the death. However, pesticides are generally used to improve the conditions of an environment. They kill pests. The definition of what is considered a pest can change depending on the situation and the opinion of the parties involved. Herbicides, insecticides, rodenticides, and fungicides are all examples of commonly used pesticides. Anti-bacterial/viral soaps, sprays, and sanitizers can even fall into this category, because they kill bacteria and viruses. Given that the applicators and users follow the directions specific to the product they are using, there is very little resulting risk to humans. These directions include proper storage, application, and treatment or use of the affected environment following application.
When using ANY type of pesticide, the label is the law and there are no exceptions. Whether the substance can be purchased and used by anyone or requires a special license, the protocol is the same. Read the label and follow the instructions. If you have any doubts about using the product correctly, do not use it. In nearly all cases where an issue arises associated with pesticide use it is a result of not following directions. These substances can be credited to improving the quality of human life in many ways over the centuries, but they are to be respected.
In general, when confronted with a situation that prompts the question, “Should I use a pesticide for this?”, I look for an alternative method that could solve the problem first. For example: Sugar ants found their way into my candy drawer. Should I use ant spray to get rid of them? -Maybe, but first let’s clean it out, wipe down the trail from where the ants were lead inside, and see if that stops them before we decide to spray.
Following the directions for pesticide use allows us to solve problems while still being good stewards. Being good stewards is important to maintaining the health and safety of our environment on all scales. So, if using a pesticide is appropriate for your situation, make sure to take the steps needed for proper safety and use.