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Ask Erik: Fungicides, Pesticides, and Due Caution

Be careful when fighting pests and disease – your health is important! Be careful when fighting pests and disease – your health is important!


Q: I have been involved in a discussion with someone about a chemical fungicide called Eagle 20EW. They report that it works well on their crop in combating powdery mildew. However, I also understand that it’s mostly intended for turf-grasses and ornamentals. This is clearly stated on the label.

In voicing my concern to this grower, who obviously isn’t growing turf grass indoors under his HID (high intensity discharge) lighting, he responded with “If you use it early in veg then it’s not that bad.” I agree it’s probably not as bad but...

What’s your take on the stuff? I haven’t heard of anyone dropping dead, but I don’t want to wait for that to happen. (John Bowen / ehydroponics.com)

A: This is an important topic that almost all growers will have to contend with at some point in their cultivation career. The short answer is not to use pesticides, fungicides, etc., in any manner other than what is advised on the label.

Manufacturers of horticultural and agricultural control products have a vested interest in growers using their formulations as much as possible. If a product says “not for use on food crops” or does not specify that the type of crop being grown is suitable for treatment, there is probably a reason for it. It may signify that it is poisonous or unsafe to ingest foods treated with the active ingredients in a given formulation.

Be a diligent grower and maintain healthy plants in an optimal growing environment to avoid pest problems before they happen. If you must use controls, use natural remedies whenever possible.

Unfortunately, growers may be misinformed by naive or unscrupulous recommendations from others and may even be supplied with chemical control products that they should not have access to without proper training or certification.

It’s true that someone might not “drop dead” right away from misapplication or handling, however, that certainly doesn’t mean that a product is OK to apply.
While the potential for immediate toxicity from different chemical controls varies, what is less clear by fact (although obvious through intuition) is that if a person continues to accumulate small doses of toxic residues from poisonous chemical controls in their body, the likelihood of achieving toxicity increases significantly. Serious health problems may arise that could have been otherwise avoided. It would be a further tragedy if a person using fresh food as medicine to help treat an ailment suffered a worsened condition, without knowing why, due to misinformed cultivation practices that created toxic residues on their food.

It also seems less likely that an indoor grower would need to treat their crop for powdery mildew in the vegetative growth phase, so it is a real possibility that treatments are being applied later in the crop’s lifecycle.

Beyond the potential danger from consuming the contaminated end product, mishandling and applying chemical controls can be very dangerous to growers, neighbors or animals in the immediate vicinity. The hazards can travel even further when you consider waterways.

No matter how benign a product may seem, always wear protection when applying. This may include rubber boots, Tyvek suit, heavy rubber gloves, goggles and respirator. It is important to note that there are different types of respirators available. Some are only intended to protect the user from dust, not chemical vapors. Make sure to find one that suits your application needs.

Protective gear should also be worn when handling poisonous substances. This includes when measuring and mixing into sprayers. Chemicals also must be stored properly. Some require storage in ventilated areas. Once a sprayer or fogger has been used to apply a toxic substance, they should always be considered toxic, and handled and used accordingly. Pouring unused spray mixtures down the drain is not an acceptable practice. Consult labels or download product data sheets for safe handling and disposal procedures.

If you are serious about growing, investing a little time to become a certified applicator could save a lot more than just your crop—it can save your health.
Be a diligent grower and maintain healthy plants in an optimal growing environment to avoid pest problems before they happen. If you must use controls, use natural remedies whenever possible. If the problem is natural, so should be the solution.

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Was Slayer singing about chemical warfare in the grow room? Probably not.
Last modified on Tuesday, 27 November 2012 11:06

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