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Last updated: August 12, 2018

What Does Pesticide Mean?

A pesticide is a substance (usually a chemical or biological agent) or mixture of substances that is intended for the prevention, destruction, repelling or mitigation of pests. According to the EPA, this includes insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and any other pest-controlling compound. Plant growth regulators, defoliants and desiccants are also classed as pesticides under U.S. law.

Safeopedia Explains Pesticide

Pesticides safeguard our food supply, protect buildings from destructive pests like termites, paving from weed growth and humans from pest-borne pathogens. However, most pesticides are toxic and require the use of PPE and safe handling and storage practices. Pesticides are classified according to their mammalian toxicity as determined by the LD50 (the dose that would be lethal to 50% of a laboratory rat population). International standards require pesticides to be classed according to toxicity and that packages should be appropriately marked with pictograms explaining the relevant safety precautions for storage, handling and use.


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