Farm Chemicals Safety

The use of chemicals is a very critical part of agricultural work and many agricultural practices can even end up producing various chemicals. Because of this, ensuring safety when handling or being exposed to chemicals on a farm is an important topic. Not only will safe chemical handling keep the handler safe, but it will also protect any fellow workers, livestock, crops, and in some cases prevent drifting.

Types of Farm Chemicals

Some of the chemicals that one could expect to see on a farm include: • Methane – A gas that is highly combustible, mainly seen in livestock farming and manure storage as it is produced through a process of anaerobic digestion. It is colourless and odorless, meaning methane should be pre-emptively taken care of if in an environment where it is produced. • Glyphosate – A herbicide used commonly worldwide to stunt weed growth in fields. It has a low toxicity and is safe for humans to come into contact with. It is applied to fields as a liquid. • Anhydrous Ammonia – Nitrogen based crop fertilizer stored as a liquid and applied as a gas. It is extremely dangerous and can cause chemical burns or frostbite wherever it is exposed. All contact should be avoided. • Nitrogen Dioxide – Dangerous gas that can be present in silos from harvested crop. A crop like corn can naturally take in and then release the chemical, when concentrated through the storage process it can cause death when inhaled.

Forms of Exposure

Since most chemicals someone would be exposed to on a farm are either in a liquid or gas state, the primary ways exposure can happen are through inhalation or skin contact. Inhalation is exclusive to gas chemicals as it means a direct contact with the lungs and respiratory track. Skin contact can happen in any form, if the chemical is dangerous enough, bare skin encountering it may be enough to cause harm. Less common forms of exposure could be contact with your eyes or ingesting the chemical, these are still possible and should be considered when handling chemicals.

Protective Measures

There are many ways to protect yourself against dangerous chemical exposure on the farm. A big part of protecting yourself is being informed on the chemical you are using or if anything happening on the farm is producing harmful chemicals. With the knowledge of what chemicals are present around you, you can be more effective at protecting yourself from them. Some more practical measures to take can include wearing protective gear when handling chemicals such as coveralls and respirator masks. Making sure buildings have proper ventilation is another important note, since many chemicals only start becoming threats in high concentrations, proper air flow can help mitigate the risk.

farm chemical safety

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