The Agricultural chemicals used today are vital for modern farming, but they also come with significant risks. Correct handling, storage, and application are important to protect yourself, the farm, others working on the farm, and the environment. These chemicals come in various forms and concentrations, including liquids, powders, granules, and pellets, tailored to their specific applications. Farmers must often complete chemical training courses to purchase and use the more potent chemicals. Here is a list of chemicals commonly found on farms:

Chemical Type/Use
Glyphosate Herbicide
Pyrethroids Insecticide
Neonicotinoids Insecticide
Aluminium or zinc phosphide – fumigant Fumigant
Sodium fluoroacetate – ‘1080’ baits Rodenticide
Cresol Disinfectant
Formalin Disinfectant/Preservative
Alkaline and acid cleaning agents Cleaning agents
Nutritional supplements – selenium and copper Nutritional supplement
Livestock vaccines and drenches Veterinary medicine

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

This includes chemical-resistant gloves, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, safety goggles, overalls, and a respirator if necessary. Your PPE must be in good condition free from contamination before each use. Protective gear is your first line of defence against chemical exposure, preventing severe health issues, like skin disorders and respiratory problems.

Safe Storage

Safely storing Agri chemicals such as ProClova XL, Grazon Pro, Agritox (MCPA), Gallup XL, amongst many others is crucial. Store them in a locked, well-ventilated shed away from living areas, water sources, and animal feed and always keep them in their original containers with labels intact. They should never be stored in food or drink containers, as this can lead to accidental ingestion. Check containers for leaks or damage regularly and ensure you have or absorbent pads on hand​ in case of a chemical spill.

Handling and Mixing Chemicals

This is where most accidents with farming chemicals happen. Inproper handling and mixing of these chemicals increase the risk of spillages and splashes that could cause harm. It is recommended to use chemical decanting kits to minimise exposure only mixing the amount needed for the task at hand. Always mix chemicals in a well-ventilated area or outdoors. If ventilation is poor, wear a respirator. Inhaling fumes is just as dangerous as accidental ingestion. Don’t eat, drink, or smoke while handling chemicals, and wash your hands thoroughly after use​ to make sure you don’t cause any cross-contamination. Finally, follow the instructions on the label. It doesn’t matter how long or hoe many times you’ve handled these chemicals before, always remind yourself of their danger when not handled correctly.

Transporting Chemicals

Always transport Agri chemical on their own and never with food, water, or animal feed. Containers should be secure to prevent spills during transit. Don’t transporting chemicals in the passenger compartment of a vehicle and always carry a written record of the chemicals being transported and ensure you have appropriate PPE and first aid supplies on hand​.

First Aid and Emergency Procedures

Accidents can happen despite taking precautions. Familiarise yourself with first aid procedures for chemical exposure. For skin contact, rinse the affected area with water for at least 15 minutes. If chemicals get into your eyes, flush them with water immediately and seek medical attention. Keep emergency contact numbers and the Safety Data Sheets.

Side Effects of having been exposed to Agri Chemicals include:

Symptom Type
Poisoning General
Headache General
Nausea General
Vomiting General
Diarrhoea General
Pinpoint pupils Neurological
Dizziness Neurological
Fine muscle twitching Neurological
Increased bronchial and lacrimal secretions Respiratory/Eye
Skin rashes and irritation Dermatological
Chemical burns Dermatological

Disposal of Chemicals

Follow all procedure and guidelines for the proper disposal of chemicals and their containers to prevent environmental contamination. As with the use of chemicals, follow the disposal instructions on the product label. Use a licensed waste disposal service for hazardous materials. Look for your closest hazardous waste collection centre. You can check out the EPA and Teagasc for more information. Never pour leftover chemicals or rinse water into drains, water bodies, or onto the ground and store empty containers in a secure location until they can be disposed of properly​.

Training and Education

Ensure that everyone who handles chemicals on your farm is properly trained. They should know how to read labels, use PPE, and follow safety protocols. Regular training sessions and refreshers can help keep safety procedures top of mind. Providing this training is not just a legal requirement but also a practical step to ensure the safety of all farm workers.

Safety in handling Agricultural chemicals requires diligence and adherence to best practices. By following these guidelines, you can minimise the risks and protect your health, the health of others, and the environment. Remember, safety starts with you – make it a priority on your farm.