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State of California Department of Pesticide Regulation - page 39 / 104

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pesticides, there is a risk of internal poisoning or tissue damage if the material absorbs through the skin. The ability of a pesticide to penetrate the skin depends on the amount of exposure plus the chemical characteristics of the pesticide and its formulation. Oil soluble pesticides pass through skin more easily than those that are soluble in water.

Eye Exposure

The active or inert ingredients of some pesticide formulations are caustic to the eyes. Besides their vulnerability to injury, eyes provide another route for entry of certain pesticides into the body. In addition, wearing contact lenses when working around gas or vapors, such as sulfur dioxide or chlorine, can contribute to eye injury. Do not wear contact lenses when working with or around these materials. As mentioned in Chapter 1, about a third of the pesticide illnesses reported annually in California are associated with antimicrobial pesticide use. Antimicrobial pesticides splashing into the user’s eyes are the cause of many of these reported incidents.

Respiratory Exposure

The lungs quickly absorb certain pesticides, enabling the blood to transport these to other parts of the body. In addition, some fumigants, such as sulfur dioxide, have the potential to cause serious lung injury. Breathing dusts or vapors while mixing or during application is difficult to avoid unless one uses appropriate respiratory equipment.

Oral Exposure

Oral exposure occurs if antimicrobial pesticides splash or blow into the mouth during mixing or application. Oral ingestion of pesticides can also occur when eating, chewing gum, or smoking, and other hand-to-mouth contact while handling pesticides. Linings of the mouth, stomach, and intestines readily absorb some pesticides. Ingesting sufficient quantities, sometimes even small amounts, may cause illness.

Pesticide Illness or Injury

The type and severity of injury or poisoning from exposure to antimicrobial pesticides depends partially on the toxicity and mode of action of the material. In addition, the amount of exposure, amount absorbed by the body, and the speed of absorption influences the seriousness of the injury.

PESTICIDE LAWS AND REGULATIONS

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