- Author: Amanda Crump
The adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" can apply to pesticide safety, too! When I was at Colorado State University in 2006, Sandra McDonald of Mountain West PEST led an effort to teach pesticide safety through the use of photos.
We took over 900 photos using the fluorescent dye Glo-Germ® illustrating proper and improper pesticide handling. The results of simulated photos speak for themselves:
This photo series illustrates the importance of wearing proper clothing and footwear. Notice the "glowing" areas on the girls legs in the picture on the right.
Improper removal of gloves and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is illustrated here. This "contamination" could be avoided by washing gloves before removing them.
It is also important to wash hands before eating, drinking, smoking, or using a phone. Just as the dye was transferred from her hands to the sandwich, pesticide residue is easily transferred to objects we use daily.
Finally, pesticide residues are brought into our homes indadvertedly on our clothes, making it important to remember to change clothes after applying pesticides and wash clothes separately from the rest of the family's laundry.
We weren't the first to use fluorescent dyes to teach pesticide safety. Others have used the dyes successfully in large audiences as demonstrations that make a lasting impression. Glo-Germ® is just one of many dyes that could be used. These dyes are designed to demonstrate handwashing, surface cleaning, hygiene, and containment techniques. They can be removed with soap and water, are invisible under normal light, and fluoresce under long wave UV light or black light.
Our photos have been incorporated into educational modules and presentations in Colorado and California. In California, when surveyed after seeing the photos, three-quarters of those viewing the presentations indicated that they would positively change at least one of their pesticide safety practices.
Fluorescent dyes are an inexpensive and effective way to demonstrate pesticide safety. For ideas of how to use dyes to teach pesticide safety, visit our colleagues at the University of Washington and download their free manual. If you are interested in using our photos, please write to me at email@example.com.
The photo project was funded by the High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety.