Evaluating Your Pesticide Risk
The risk of negative health effects from a pesticide depends on its toxicity (how poisonous it is) and your exposure (the amount you get in or on your body). In addition, certain population groups such as children, pregnant women and the elderly may be more sensitive to the effects of pesticides than others. Risks associated with pesticides can be greatly reduced, or even eliminated, by selecting the least-toxic product to control a pest and by minimizing your exposure.
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 that you think may be a result of a pesticide exposure, but the situation is not an emergency, consult with your health care provider and the Minnesota Poison Control System (1-800-222-1222).
To find out about the health risks associated with a pesticide exposure, you will need to obtain information about the pesticide product. From the product label, record 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, see Registered Product Search.
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, and/or skin exposure)?
- How long does the pesticide stay in the environment? In the body?
- Many pesticides are readily removed by the body ( e.g., in urine or feces) in a matter of hours or days.
Consult with your health care provider to determine if a test is available to measure the pesticide in your blood, urine, or other bodily fluid. Provide them with as much information as possible about the pesticide product and your exposure.
Pesticide active ingredients differ in their levels of toxicity. They also differ in chemical properties (such as how long they stay in the environment or in the human body) that can be important for assessing risks.
Start your search by looking for the active ingredient in the resources below.
National Pesticide Information Center:Active Ingredient Fact Sheets
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Search and Retrieval Systems
National Library of Medicine:
United States Environmental Protection Agency:
Minnesota Department of Health: Risk Assessment Minnesota Department of Agriculture Minnesota Poison Control System: Poison Help National Pesticide Information Center Uso seguro de los pesticidas (U.S. EPA Spanish-Language Information on Safe Use of Pesticides)