Each pesticide application should be planned and made with care.  However, extra preparation and extreme caution are needed when working in a sensitive area.   These places have one or more features that require special management.

Some areas are sensitive because of the people, plants, or animals that use or live on the site.  For example, hospitals, nursing homes, elementary schools, and day-care cen­ters are inhabited by people who, as a rule, are more likely to be affected by pesticides than healthy adults are. Pesticides must be directed at the target. Applications must be managed so that humans, wildlife, domestic and agricultural animals, and nontarget plants are not harmed.

Other areas are sensitive because of con­struction or design features.  For example, if making a pesticide application near a build­ing, identify the location of air intakes.  Avoid treating in places where pesticide particles or vapors will be drawn into heating or cool­ing systems.   Before treating an area, look for places where pesticides may reach water sources.   For example, identify and leave an untreated buffer zone around a wellhead.

Still other sites are sensitive because of environmental factors. These may be permanent features; for example, a shallow water table. They may be temporary; for example, a temperature inversion, high win, or hot, dry weather – conditions that favor drift.

Here is a short description of some common sensitive areas and situations.

Water  Sources

Some pesticides will harm aquatic or­ganisms, including fish and crayfish.   Some persist in the environment.  A chemical that remains active for a long time may move into water supplies.   This is especially true if the chemical dissolves readily in water.   Surface­ applied chemicals can move in solution down through soil layers.   This can occur in any site, but pesticides are most likely to reach groundwater through sandy soil or limestone rock. Pesticides may also move with surface runoff.  Observe both label and commonsense precautions when working around water sources.   When planning a pest management program, identify and protect connections to water supplies, such as wells, cisterns, and drains.   When you visit a site, ask if there is a wellhead or other possible connection to groundwater on the property.   Leave a buffer area around lakes and ponds and along the edge of rivers and streams.

Outdoor Play Equipment, Lawn

Furniture, Sidewalks, Driveways

Pesticide residues on surfaces may pres­ent unnecessary exposure to people or pets. Remove outdoor furniture and play equipment before making an application, if possible.   If you must work around permanent outdoor structures, take steps to avoid leaving pesticide residues on them.  If you inadvertently deposit a pesticide on something, remove it.  Rinse sprays from driveways, sidewalks, and other surfaces onto the treatment site.   Sweep gran­ ules off sidewalks and driveways.

Bird Feeders, Pet Food and Water

Dishes, Fish Ponds

Some pesticides are toxic to birds and fish, even at very low concentrations.  Always manage spray applications to avoid drift. Remove pet water and food dishes. Cover wildlife feeding stations or water gardens to provide added security.  Ask homeowners to remove their pets from a yard before treating it.  Keep pets  off turfgrass until sprays are dry or granules are watered in.


Nontarget  Plants

Use caution when working around veg­etable gardens and ornamental plantings. Ensure that the pesticides you will apply will not drift onto them.   Be sure the pesticides you apply to turf will not leach into the root zone of off-target plants.


Appliances that redistribute air may also move pesticides applied near them.   Before treating around the outside of buildings, locate fresh air returns.   Do not use formula­tions that may be drawn into them, such as liquids and dusts, around air intakes.  Leave a buffer zone around air conditioners and heat pumps.   Be sure building windows and doors are  closed.