The word "pesticides" includes many products, like:
Pesticides are made from both conventional (synthetic) and naturally occurring (biochemical) active ingredients. For example, the lawn care product 2,4-D is synthetic, while a pesticide with the active ingredient of acetic acid, like found in vinegar, is biochemical.
A homeowner, pet owner, farmer or golf course operator may use the same pesticide ingredients, but each product is designed specifically for an intended use. Health Canada assesses all of the ingredients, determines label directions for each product, and registers only those products that will not harm human health or the environment.
If you choose to use a pesticide in or around your home, you are responsible for its proper use. This includes being familiar with safe handling and application procedures, the precautions described on the label, and how to dispose of pesticides properly.
Following are general homeowner guidelines on the proper use, storage and disposal of pesticides.
The following will help you, as a homeowner, how to properly use, store and dispose of pesticides.
It is up to you how much damage from a pest you will accept before trying to control it. However, before purchasing a pesticide, check on possible alternatives that may be available. Some pests may be controlled by using traps and physical barriers, or by sealing cracks and crevices that may allow pests to enter the home. You may also want to hire a pest control operator, who is licensed and familiar with alternative methods of pest control.
Some provinces and municipalities have placed restrictions on what pesticides you can use (referred to as 'cosmetic bans'), so check with your local authorities before buying or using them.
Do not buy a pesticide if the packaging is visibly damaged or seems to have been tampered with. Instead report it to the vendor. If you notice damaged or defective packaging after purchase, report this as an incident to the pesticide company listed on the label, or to Health Canada.
Do not treat pets with pesticides unless the pesticide says it is intended for use on pets. If you need to use a flea control product, be sure to use it only on the animal specified on the product label: dog products for dogs, cat products for cats. Apply only the amount stated for the size, weight or age of the animal being treated. Apply only as often as it says on the label.
Pregnant women should follow the additional safety precaution of not entering a pesticide-treated area for 24 hours after the pesticide has been applied. Pregnant women may also be more sensitive to the strong odour of ingredients contained in some pesticides. The odour itself is not harmful and should go away if there is enough ventilation. This residual odour may be caused by trace amounts of sulphur-based compounds and solvents in the pesticide.
Children and pets should not be allowed to enter a pesticide-treated area until the applied product is dry, or as specifically directed on the label.
As with many natural and synthetic products, some pesticides may cause allergic reactions in some people. Information on known allergic reactions can be found on the product label. Persons prone to allergic reactions should stay out of the treated area for a period of 24 hours after application.
Residual odour from some insecticides or herbicides may be caused by trace amounts of ingredients, like sulphur-based compounds and solvent systems in the formulation. Although somewhat unpleasant, these odours are harmless.
Follow these tips for storage:
The best solution to the problem of pesticide disposal is good planning. It is important to buy only the amount needed for a specific problem. Here are a few suggestions on how to dispose of house and garden pesticides:
Before they can be imported, sold or used in Canada, all pesticides must be registered under the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA) and Regulations, administered by Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). The main goal is to prevent unacceptable risks to people and the environment from the use of pesticides. To accomplish this, Health Canada evaluates all pesticides before they are registered to ensure that they meet the latest health and safety standards, and that the pesticide works as claimed. The pesticide label specifies how to use the product safely and effectively.
All pesticides registered in Canada are subject to re-evaluation every 15 years, or sooner if warranted, to ensure that they meet Canada's stringent health and environmental protection standards.
Consult the Pest Notes series for specific information on managing and controlling common household and garden pests.
See important information on Homemade Pesticides for the risks of making or using some homemade pesticides.
For more information on a variety of issues related to pesticide use in and around the home or garden, see the Proper Use of Pesticides section of the Health Canada Web site.
For more information on starting and maintaining a healthy lawn, see the Healthy Lawns section of the Health Canada Web site.
For more information on reporting pesticide incidents, see the Reporting Pesticide Incidents information note.
For more information on the regulation of pesticides in Canada, see the fact sheet The Regulation of Pesticides in Canada, and the information note Cosmetic Bans and the Roles of the Three Levels of Government.
You can also call the Pest Management Information Service at 1-800-267-6315 (toll free in Canada).
For articles on health and safety issues go to the It's Your Health section of the Health Canada Web site. You can also call us toll free at 1-866-225-0709 or TTY at 1-800-267-1245.