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Reading Labels

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Federal law requires that most hazardous household products include specific types of information about the product on their labels.

  • The Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) regulates labeling of all other hazardous products.

  • Most product labels tend to advertise the virtues of the product rather than emphasize information on product safety.

  • The consumer must know what to look for and how to read the fine print on a label.

    Reading a Pesticide Label
    When pesticides are registered they are subjected to tests that examine the acute or immediate hazard associated with that product. The signal word on the label can give you a general indication of the level of toxicity (lethal dose) of the product:

    The "Signal Words" to look for are:

    All Labels Must Contain the Following:"

    1.Brand Name

    2.Common Name of Primary Chemical(s)
    c 3.Ingredients Statement: Every pesticide label must name and list the percentages of all active ingredients (i.e. the ingredients that kill the pest). Manufacturers are now required to list several inactive, inert ingredients that have hazardous qualities (e.g. petroleum distillates).

    4.Type of Formulation: Label tells what form the product is in (e.g. powder).

    5.Pests Registered Against: Label includes a list of the pests the pesticide has been proven to be effective against.

    6.Child Hazard Warning

    7.Net Contents

    8.Directions for Use: The label must tell you how to use the product within its legal requirements and for best results. Watch for special directions for use on vegetables.

    9.Warning statements and signal words: This section includes recommendations on protective clothing and equipment and on precautions to take to avoid exposure of children and pets. Labels do not indicate any long-term or chronic hazards (e.g. cancer or birth defects) of the chemicals contained in the product. Many products have not been tested for their long-term effect on humans.

    10.Misuse Statement/Liability

    11.Registration and Establishment Numbers: Every pesticide must be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Labels must contain the registration number (EPA Reg. No. XX) and an establishment number (code for the manufacturer) (EPA Est. No. XX).

    12.Name and Address of Manufacturer: Manufacturer can be contacted for additional information. The manufacturer can supply you with more detailed information about product constituents in their "Material Safety Data Sheet."

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