The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reminds farmers it is important to always take precautions when transporting pesticides, including properly securing them and not transporting them in the passenger area of a vehicle.

“Traffic accidents can occur at anytime, even when traveling only a short distance, so it pays to use extra caution,” said Jim Burnette, administrator of the NCDA&CS Pesticide Section. “Improperly loaded pesticide containers can fall off a vehicle or become punctured or torn, increasing the potential exposure of people, animals and the environment to these chemicals.” The following are important tips to keep in mind when transporting pesticides:

• Pesticides should always be transported separately from food, seed, grain, livestock feed or minerals.

• Do not carry pesticides in the passenger compartment of cars, vans or trucks. Vapors released from pesticides can be hazardous and can make the driver and other passengers ill or cause injury if spilled. The driver is responsible and potentially liable if anyone is accidentally exposed to pesticides transported in an unlocked truck compartment or open-bed truck. Whenever possible, safely transport pesticides in locked compartments.

• Never allow children, other passengers or pets to ride with pesticides.

• Having a hazardous material spill kit in the vehicle is essential, especially if frequently transporting pesticides. These kits commonly contain chemical-resistant gloves, coveralls, goggles, absorbent pads and absorbent materials such as non-chlorinated pet litter, and a temporary storage container preferably made of plastic.

• When possible, inspect all containers at the time of purchase and before loading. Accept a pesticide only if product labels are legible and firmly attached. Check all caps and tighten them if necessary. Avoid tossing, sliding or dragging containers over rough surfaces that could rip, tear or puncture. Never transport damaged or leaking pesticide containers.

•Secure all containers to the truck to prevent load shifts and to reduce container damage. Containers made of paper, cardboard or similar materials should always be protected from rain or moisture. In addition, protect pesticides from temperature extremes, which can reduce the effectiveness of the pesticide and cause damage to the container.

The same care must be given when transporting empty bags and containers. Residual exposure — whether by dusts, granules, powder or liquid — also poses potential environmental hazards if the containers end up in contact with an unintended source. For example, if an empty insecticide bag blows off a truck and ends up in a lake, it could cause a fish kill.

• Take the time to read and follow the label carefully. It provides information about special hazards and safety instructions for handling and disposing of pesticides.

• If there is an accident that involves a pesticide spill on a highway, contact the local sheriff’s office or the local police department, the local emergency management services, and the Pesticide Section of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at (919) 733-3556. Prevent unauthorized persons from entering the spill area.