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Department Of Agriculture And Food To Promote Pesticide Safety

Utah Department of Agriculture and Food working to avoid a pesticide accident like one that happened in 2010.

Five years ago in Layton, two girls, Rebecca and Rachel Toone, died after a pesticide company buried Fumitoxin near their home. Fumes from the chemical poisoned the girls. As it turns out, instructions on where to place the pesticide were not followed.

“We’re pretty strict here in the state. We really take it serious.” said Scott Oldham, pesticide program manager with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. “Where we lost those Toone girls five years back in Layton, that’s something that we don’t ever want to see again and so we really run a tight ship here.”

To help prevent any further accidents, instructors with the Utah Department of Ag and Food will join with Utah State University Extension’s Pesticide Safety Education Program to instruct Utah farmers, licensed pesticide companies and private residents on how to safely handle the product.

“Everything’s categorized as a pesticide if it controls a pest. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a hand soap or water or whatever. If it’s controlling a pest, the state of Utah considers it as a pesticide,” Oldham said. “So there are low-risk pesticides that are out there and they don’t have the residual as you do some of the other ones, but they are effective to a certain degree.”

Farmers for example, rely on the use of products to help protect crops from insects, disease and rodents.

“If the farmers didn’t have pesticides we would lose a large amount of our crops to pests, and therefore, the price of food for your table would increase substantially,” Oldham said. “If pesticides are used properly, they’re a great, great asset.”

Licensed pesticide applicators can recertify during safety classes beginning this week in Spanish Fork and continuing through mid-December, ending with training in Logan.