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Secretary of Agriculture Warns of Poisons in the Home

Tips Offered to Protect Children and Pets from Accidental Exposure, Poisoning

ANNAPOLIS, MD –Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder is warning Maryland residents to be aware of the danger posed by many common household chemicals and to make sure they are kept safely away from children and pets. Although drugs, caustic chemicals, and poisons are commonly of most concern to parents and pet owners, other materials are also dangerous and may be stored in less secure areas.

“As we gear up for spring cleaning, it is important to be aware of exactly what chemicals and solutions we are applying in our homes, lawns and gardens,” said Secretary Bartenfelder. “It is equally important to make sure that any potentially harmful materials are stored away safely, out of the reach of children and pets. Outdoor chemicals are often stored in locations that are out of sight to adults, but those locations, such as barns and sheds, may be appealing to curious children.”

Product labels are the key to safely storing, handling and disposing of chemicals. Consumers are urged to read and follow all label instructions and to adhere to the following general rules:

  • Store products out of reach of children and pets. Keep all pesticides and harmful household products locked in a cabinet, a utility area with lots of ventilation or air flow, and/or in a garden shed. Child-proof safety latches may also be installed on cabinets and can be purchased at your local hardware store.
  • Store flammable products outside your living area and far away from places where they could catch fire. Keep flammable products away from portable heaters, electric baseboard heaters, around furnaces and outdoor grills.
  • Never store pesticides or other household products in cabinets where food is stored, or near food intended for people or animals. Never store pesticides where you keep medicines.
  • Always store household products in their original containers so you can read the label for directions.
  • Make sure to read, understand and follow all directions as printed on the label of any pesticide or household product.
  • Never transfer pesticides or other household products to other containers that children may associate with food or drink.
  • Teach children that “pesticides are poisons” and something they should not touch.
  • Before applying pesticides (indoors or outdoors), always remove children and their toys as well as pets from the area and keep them away until the pesticide has dried or as long as is recommended by the label.
  • If your use of a pesticide is interrupted (perhaps by a phone call), always make sure to leave the container out of the reach of children while you are gone.

In addition to the Secretary’s warning, the EPA has a Safer Choice program for household cleaning products. The program aims to prevent the use of potentially harmful products by adding a Safer Choice label to products that include safer ingredients for people, pets, and the environment. Click here for the full list of Safer Choice products.

The National Poison Center hotline is 1-800-222-1222. Call this number any time if you think someone has been exposed to toxic substances. If the person is not breathing, is unconscious, or having seizures, call 911 right away. For general information on poison control, visit the Maryland Poison Center website.

The National Pesticide Information Center provides objective, science-based information about pesticides and pesticide-related topics to enable people to make informed decisions about pesticides and their use. Call 1-800-858-7378 or visit their website.

To be effective, pesticides are toxic to plants or animals and vary in the range of toxicity to humans. The degree of hazard to humans or pets can be reduced if pesticides are applied according to label directions and if the appropriate precautions are followed by the applicator and the customer. Therefore, selecting a pest control service is just as important as selecting any other professional service. To help protect consumers and ensure they are getting the service they paid for, the Maryland Department of Agriculture reminds consumers to deal only with a department-licensed firm.

For general information on pesticides, contact the department’s Pesticide Regulation Section at 410-841-5710.

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Contact Information

If you have any questions, need additional information or would like to arrange an interview, please contact:

Julie Oberg
Director of Communications
Telephone: 410-841-5888

Jason Schellhardt
Public Information Officer - Media Relations
Telephone: 410-841-5744


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