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Spring Safety Checks  

Carol Ann Rogers

Now that spring has arrived, and we will be spending a lot of time outdoors in the garden, there are a few things that we should keep in mind.

Make sure your tetnus booster shot is up to date. It should be renewed every ten years. The causative agent for tetnus is an anerobic bacteria called C. tetani whose normal habitat is in the soil and in the digestive tracts of animals, hence, manure. Any open wounds, particularly punctures, are susceptible to these bacteria, which produce a highly poisonous neurotoxin. This devastating disease is preventable! Get your booster shot.

Thorn resistant gloves are essential when working with roses. There are various forms of bacteria in addition to C. tetani and several species of fungus that can invade the body and cause serious illness through thorn injury. Treatment for these diseases is usually unpleasant so wearing gloves is important.

To grow strong and healthy roses using various types of pesticides is usually indicated, and since some chemicals can be as harmful to us as they are to the pests, we must protect ourselves.
Check your personal protective equipment (or ppe). Make sure that you have proper eyewear such as a plastic face shield, goggles, or glasses with side shields. Remember chemicals such as Funginex (now “RosePride Rose & Shrub Disease Control”) can cause irreversible eye damage. Regular glasses are not proper ppe.

Have a long, sturdy pair of chemical and abrasion resistant nitrile gloves available for mixing chemicals. If you already have synthetic gloves, check for cracking or chemical degradation. If present, discard, and purchase a new pair. Do not use cloth or leather gloves when working with pesticides, because saturation accidents can cause direct chemical absorption into the skin.
Protect your skin with dedicated clothing for spraying including a long sleeved shirt, long pants, socks, shoes, and a hat or a lightweight one-piece coverall.

Purchase a respirator that is suitable for the purpose. Consider ventilation, type of applicator, and time exposure to the chemicals. Equipment for both dusts and mists is advisable. Use while spraying, as well as when working with compost and mulch, and particularly if you are predisposed to respiratory problems or allergies.

When buying pesticides of any kind, purchase enough for one season only. READ THE LABEL thoroughly and be familiar with the three important signal words. DANGER is a highly toxic Class 1 chemical, WARNING is a moderately toxic Class 11 chemical, and CAUTION is a slightly toxic Class 111 chemical. Do not use pesticides on anything other than what is listed on the label, abide by your state regulations, and do not use restricted products. Pay attention to application directions, suggested ppe, phytotoxcity warnings, environmental hazards, and first aid instructions. Consider all pesticides potentially harmful even though some may be of natural origin.

Before mixing and using pesticides make sure you have donned the proper ppe. You should not be eating, drinking, or smoking during any part of the spraying process. In an adequately ventilated area, make enough spray for one application only. Use a well-maintained sprayer with the correct nozzle setting to prevent spray drift. Close windows, cover pet dishes, sandboxes, and plastic pools. Keep pets and children inside until the spray is dry. Do not spray when windy, but in a slight breeze, make sure that the spray is going in the same direction and apply spray to the tops and undersides of the leaves. Place the yellow pesticide alert sign on your property and wash any play equipment that was near the area.

Clean up thoroughly. Wash your gloves with soap and water before removing them, don’t forget to rinse your protective eyewear, and clean your respirator according to directions. Launder your clothing immediately after spraying and do so separately from regular laundry. Store pesticides in their tightly-closed, original container in a cool, dark place away from pets and children.

Remember accidents happen because of carelessness or misuse. The most dangerous pesticide poisonings occur through dermal and inhalation routes into the body especially when the chemicals are in concentrated form so pay attention to what you are doing and don’t take short cuts.

There are hazards associated with just about everything we do. However, concerning rose culture, the recommendations to protect our environment and ourselves are both easy, and use common sense. Following these simple instructions will certainly make our hobby more enjoyable, we will have beautiful gardens and our bodies will thank us, too.

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