Chemical storage facilities should have open, easy access and impervious flooring.
Photo by Clyde Ogg, UNL.

In comparison to horticultural subjects such as controlling turf insects, using plant growth regulators or selecting the best shrubs for a particular landscape, the level of interest generated by the safe and secure storage of pest control products lags behind dramatically.

The safety of pest control product storage doesn’t bring in a slug of new cash into the company coffers like some other enterprises do, but if pest control agents are not stored properly and safely, big problems can result; namely, nasty accidents and fines from the government, and both are outcomes to be avoided.

Where to locate

Pesticide products are safe to use when applied to the target plants and when contained without the possibility of moving into water bodies and other sensitive areas. As such, a storage facility must be placed in an area where flooding is highly unlikely. It must also be situated away from areas where animals and humans live to prevent accidents in cases of fire or storms. Identify drinking water wells and sinkholes nearby and make sure that the storage unit is 400 feet or more away from them. Consider the possibility that prevailing winds could carry product dust from the storage area into an area of human or animal activity and locate the storage facility accordingly.

Inventory

In order to store chemicals properly, it’s crucial to have a complete list and accounting of the current inventory. A thorough log will help determine the features that the storage unit must have to comply with manufacturer and government regulations. Ventilation, floor and shelf surfaces, lighting, personnel access and containment are just some of the features that will be dictated by the inventory.

In order to facilitate the inventory process, create a simple form to document all of the contents that are being stored. Update the form regularly, especially whenever a new supply or shipment of chemical products is received. This may be a good task to assign to a newly hired technician, as it’s a good way to teach them about the products that are commonly used by your company and get the inventory done properly at the same time. Storage equipment

Unlined rubber gloves, a face shield and a rubber apron are absolute musts to have available where you store your chemical control products.
Photo by Clyde Ogg, UNL.

Arrange shelves and racks in such a way that they have enough clearance to accommodate the largest containers in your inventory, and provide adequate room to remove and return them without tipping. The process of tipping containers when removing and returning them to shelves or cabinets is problematic as it may cause the contents to leak or drip.

Regardless of the shape of the storage area, one constant requirement is that the flooring be impervious, so that when you have a chemical spill-and you will have one, it’s just a matter of time-cleaning up small amounts of liquid or granular pest control products is much easier on a concrete or vinyl floor than a dirt or crushed granite one.

A spill kit is another absolute necessity. Kits can be purchased from some pesticide distributors, various Internet sources or can be made from easily obtainable items. Make sure that it contains appropriate personal protective equipment, such as unlined rubber gloves, rubber boots, protective eyewear, disposable coveralls and a respirator. Spill kits also commonly contain dry, absorbent material such as sawdust or kitty litter. Commercial absorbent products are also readily available in bulk quantities. A broom or scoop shovel to pick up contaminated materials is also helpful, as well as a plastic container with a lid to put the contaminated waste in. A set of self-adhesive labels and a felt-tip pen come in handy to write the name of the spilled pesticide on the container, along with the time and date of the spill. A laminated list of emergency phone numbers should also be included.

Locating your storage facility away from human activity and bodies of water is a must.
Photo by John Fech.

Good storage conditions

The facilities that create conditions for proper storage may vary slightly from product to product, but in general are …

  • able to be securely locked and posted as a pesticide storage area.
  • able to keep pesticide products dry.
  • fire-resistant and contain a well-functioning exhaust fan for ventilation.
  • of a moderate, 60 to 65 degree temperature, low relative humidity and out of daylight.
  • well-lit so it’s easy to read the label and distinguish similarly looking products from each other.
  • arranged in such a way that access is easy and open, and for quick notice or observation if products are missing, and bags are torn or put away incorrectly.
  • adaptable and allow for expansion. Additional room will be necessary if your business grows and greater product storage is required or if you decide to add a sideline such as summer disease control.

Overall, the bottom line for creating good storage conditions is that they are stable, easy to use and accommodate the products that you use.

Costs

The cost of providing good storage conditions for the control products your company uses are usually not a lightweight consideration. Don’t scrimp on building or buying good storage equipment; your storage facility is not a place to cut corners or lower costs.

John Fech is an extension educator specializing in turf and ornamentals at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.