How Do Pest Control Affect The Atmosphere? Best Safety Tips

Environmentally conscious people may wonder how do pest control affect the atmosphere. The effects vary depending on exactly how much is in the air, so let’s go over a few things you need to know.


how do pest control affect the atmosphere

How Does Pesticide Affect The Air?

Basic science can tell you that when people apply pesticides, some small airborne particles or vapors hang around in the air. Of course, when these tiny remnants remain in the air, they can spread to surrounding areas.

There’s a term for this phenomenon called pesticide drift. This occurrence happens when airborne particles drift to places away from the targeted area, hence the name.

Pesticide drift becomes more likely to be more widespread if the area is windy or has a high temperature or low humidity.

Sometimes, they can reach higher heights or spread to places far away. In fact, scientists discovered that airborne particles or vapors released in Asia can make their way to the American west coast in a week.

These airborne chemicals can even infiltrate ecosystems in forms of precipitation like rain or snow. Pesticide drift can consist of two to twenty-five percent of applied pesticides, so you can see how much can end up in our atmosphere.

Another relevant term worth mentioning is volatilization. The definition of the term is the conversion of solids or liquids into gaseous forms.

Going by this information, the volatilization of pesticides can cause a significant amount of pesticide drift.

If the soil beneath the treated area tightly absorbs pesticides, it could lessen the chances of volatilization. However, factors of the affected soil such as organic matter content, moisture, and texture could influence the way pesticides volatilize.

Another term to ponder on is vapor pressure. This term means a substance’s tendency to volatilize or evaporate.

The thing to remember about vapor pressure is the higher the pesticide’s vapor pressure, the more volatile it is and, of course, the greater likelihood of pesticide drift.


What Are The Effects Of Pesticide Drift?

When there’s residual pesticide drifting through the air, it can affect the area where it travels. Places such as residential areas, playgrounds, schools, farming fields, outdoor wildlife, and even bodies of water.

The two percent, as mentioned above, to twenty-five percent or residual pesticides in drifts may not seem so bad, but levels of risk can vary.

Some pesticides have minimal toxicity, so they don’t cause much harm. However, there could be applied pesticide within your vicinity that could bring about associated risks.

A few of the health hazards that go with pesticide drift can include but are not limited to infertility, reproductive disorders, pulmonary disease, cancer, and neurodevelopmental disorders in children.

Don’t fret; we’ve got you covered if you’re worried about this. Here’s a helpful article on how to recognize pesticide poisoning.

Not only do people and animals get affected, but even crops can suffer from pesticide drift if they weren’t the target plants. Pesticide drift could render them unsellable when exposed to pesticides not registered on certain types of crops.


How To Protect Yourself In Case Of Exposure?

You may not be able to control where pesticides end up. Still, you can control prevention and safety protocols during pest control procedures.

  • If you’re applying pesticide, limit it only to the targeted area.

  • Avoid applying near waterways like storm drains, gutters, drainage ditches, or surface waters. Pesticide could get into water supplies and increase the chance of volatilization.

  • Ensure weather conditions are favorable for pesticide application. Rainy days aren’t good days to apply pesticide, especially if done outdoors, as wind or rain can blow away or wash off the pesticide from targeted areas.

  • Properly rinse the equipment you used over the treated areas to avoid pesticide from spreading to other surrounding areas.

  • If you use granular products, sweep any excess that landed on the pavements back to the targeted area.

If you feel you or anyone around you got exposed, here are some tips:

  • Immediately stop contact with the applied pesticide.

  • Remove your clothes and don’t wash them yet. Store them first in an airtight container.

  • Wash any part of your body that got in contact with the pesticide with soap and water.

  • Flush with cool, clean water for about 10 to 15 minutes if eyes are affected. Remove contacts immediately if you wore them during the application.

  • Keep contact information about poison control centers handy. You never know if you need professional consultations.

These tips can ensure you don’t suffer too much due to pesticide drift. If you need more information, here’s a handy guide on what are the dos and donts of pest control.



Pesticide drift sure can be a doozy. Being aware of how pesticides can spread and affect areas around you can help you figure out what to do to protect yourself and your loved ones from exposure to pesticides.

Knowing how do pest control affect the atmosphere is a good start. Being aware of how pesticides spread through the air will keep you more on your toes, especially if you’re the one who will initiate pest control.

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