Safety in the Garden-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Safety in the Garden

GardenerNow that summer is finally here, we are occupied with working in our gardens (in addition to complaining about the heat and humidity.)  Here are some things that will help keep you safe while you work in your yard:

While using “green” products is always the best option for safe yard work, many people still rely on harsher chemicals to kill pests and diseases.  After assuring yourself that you have the right material for the task at hand, remember to protect yourself from the chemicals themselves.  Always wear gloves when applying herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers, even the “safer” ones.  If you mix the chemicals yourself, you may want to wear eye protection, to guard against splashes.  (Goggles are preferred over glasses in this case.)  Also be sure to wash your hands and any other affected areas before you go back inside.

 If you are using these materials for vegetables or herbs, be sure you follow the container instructions as to when it will be safe to eat the produce, after application.  (Better yet, don’t use chemicals on eatables in the first place!)

After complaining about the heat, it is important to protect yourself from it.  Wear a hat to protect you from the sun.  Be conscious of how hard you are working in the heat, so you don’t get overheated from the combination.  Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.

Learn how to recognize poisonous plants, such as poison ivy or poison oak, both of which are common in our area.  If you are addressing these hazards, protection is more important than ever—eye, hand and body coverings are critical.  And never burn the debris of these materials—the hazard can become airborne and create a more serious hazard.

If you have old yard chemicals to dispose of, please take them to a Household Hazardous Waste Collection point.  You can find information on this at

By: Mark Banister,, 412-268-1493