Evaluating Your Pesticide Risk

The following resources will help you find information to evaluate pesticide health risks. For pesticide poisonings and other health emergencies, call 911 or see Pesticide Emergencies. If you are experiencing adverse health effects or symptoms that you think are a result of a pesticide exposure, but the situation is not an emergency, consult with your health care provider.

On this page:
Products/Ingredients
Toxicity
Exposure
Reporting an Incident
Resources

Products/Ingredients

To find out about the health risks associated with a pesticide exposure, you will need to obtain information about the pesticide product. Read and record the information on the label, including the product's name, active ingredient(s), and U.S. EPA Registration number (required for all registered pesticide products). If the label is not available, but you know the product's name, contact the Minnesota Department of Agriculture or see Registered Product Search.

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Toxicity

Pesticide active ingredients differ in their levels of toxicity. They also differ in chemical properties (e.g., half-life or persistence in the environment) that can be important for assessing risks.

Start your search by looking for the active ingredient in the list of resources below. If you cannot find information or have questions, please refer to our Pesticide Contacts information.

Note that inert or other ingredients in pesticide products may be toxic. For more information, also see the information (below) about inert or "other" ingredients.

Fact Sheets

National Pesticide Information Center:
Active Ingredient Fact Sheets


Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry:
ToxFAQs


Extension Toxicology Network:
Pesticide Information Profiles


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
- Fact Sheets on New Active Ingredients
- Pesticide Reregistration Status

Publications

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisonings


Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry:
Toxicological Profiles


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
Inert Ingredients Permitted in Pesticide Products


National Pesticide Information Center:
Inert or "Other Ingredients


Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service:
-Pesticide Toxicology: Evaluating Safety and Risk
(PDF: 2.2MB/67 pages)

-Pesticides and Epidemiology: Unraveling Disease Patterns
(PDF: 510KB/33 pages)

Search and Retrieval Systems

National Library of Medicine:
- Toxnet (Toxicology Data Network): Search TOXLINE
- PubMed

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Exposure

To evaluate your pesticide health risk, it is important to consider factors that may influence the nature and extent of your pesticide exposure. For example:

  • How and where was the application made? Who made the application? Did they follow directions on the product label?
  • What was the extent (frequency, duration) of your contact with the pesticide or contaminated surfaces?
  • How were you exposed (inhalation, ingestion, dermal or skin)?
  • What is the half-life of the pesticide in the environment? In the body?

Many pesticides that are used today are readily removed by the body (urine, feces) in a matter of hours or days. Depending on the pesticide, a test may be available to measure it in your blood, urine, or other biological fluid. These tests may not be available at your health care provider's office; however, your provider may be able to send the samples to a laboratory that can perform the tests. None of these tests, however, can predict whether you will experience any health effects.

Consult with your health care provider to determine if a test is available. Provide your provider with as much information as possible about the pesticide product and your exposure.

Reference ranges for exposures to several chemicals, including pesticides, are reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You may compare your measurements to these ranges, where possible. For more about reference ranges for exposures to contaminants, see the National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.

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Reporting an Incident

If you believe that a pesticide application was illegal or you have been subject to an illegal pesticide application (i.e., the application was not made according to directions on the product label), report the incident to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture at 651-201-6333. The Department will evaluate the information and determine if further investigation and/or disciplinary action is needed. After hours, complaints can be reported to the Minnesota Duty Officer at 800-422-0798 out-state and 651-649-5451 in the Minneapolis/St. Paul seven county metro area. The process for filing a pesticide complaint with MDA can be found here.

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Resources

Minnesota Department of Health (Risk Assessment)
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Minnesota Poison Control System: Poison Help
National Pesticide Information Center

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Updated Friday, 10-Aug-2012 10:22:39 CDT