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© 1997, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.


Accidental exposure or overexposure to pesticides can have serious implications. The potential for pesticide accidents is real. It has been estimated that more than 36 million pounds of pesticide active ingredients are used annually in Nebraska. While most of these pesticides can be used with relatively little risk (as long as label directions are followed), some are extremely toxic and require special precautions.

The Poison Center, at the Children's Hospital in Omaha, reports that agricultural pesticides are responsible for 4.6 percent of all accidental exposures reported. A recent study surveyed callers to The Poison Center who were exposed to agricultural chemicals. Anhydrous ammonia caused 24 percent of the incidents. The remainder were caused by herbicides (22 percent) and insecticides (54 percent). Most of the herbicide exposures resulted in eye/skin irritations. The insecticide exposures tended to result in more evident symptoms of greater concern (nausea/vomiting, headaches, dizziness, and shortness of breath).