Pesticide Poisoning a Risk in Springtime

OKLAHOMA CITY- This time of year, especially during isolation, many families are doing spring cleaning and working on yard projects. Avoid poisonings and be safe when using pesticides and other chemical around the house. Chemicals used to control insects, plant diseases, weeds and slugs are all types of pesticides. 

“Symptoms of poisoning from a pesticide might include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, excessive perspiration or muscle twitching,” said Scott Schaeffer RPh, DABAT, managing director of the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information. Other symptoms can include extreme weakness, confusion, blurred vision, coughing, reddened or irritated skin, difficulty breathing or cough.

As you begin spring cleaning and work in the yard, the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information offers the following safety advice:

In the yard and garden:

  • Remember that pesticides can be absorbed into the body through the skin and by being inhaled.
  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks, shoes and gloves when using pesticides.
  • Remove and wash clothing when finished; wash separately from regular family laundry.
  • Stay away from where pesticides have been sprayed until the area is dry.
  • Read the label on the pesticide container before using it. Make sure that you understand everything you need to know about the product ahead of time and carefully follow the directions.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands and face after you use pesticides and before you do any other activity. Never eat, drink or smoke while handling pesticides.

When any type of exposure has occurred, call the Poison Center for information regarding what to do, what to watch for, and how to treat the situation. If the most appropriate place to be is the hospital, the Poison Center will call ahead with treatment recommendations. Enter the center’s number into your phone’s contact list for quick access.

Pharmacists and registered nurses at the poison center are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (800) 222-1222. Please do not email the poison center or a member of the poison center staff, as poisoning emergencies are not handled through email. The Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information is a program of the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy at the OU Health Sciences Center. For more information, please visit                       



The University of Oklahoma College offers the Doctor of Pharmacy professional degree program and graduate programs in the Pharmaceutical Sciences leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. Since 1896, the College of Pharmacy has had more than 5,300 graduates.


OU Health — along with its academic partner, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center — is the state’s only comprehensive academic health system of hospitals, clinics and centers of excellence. With 11,000 employees and more than 1,300 physicians and advanced practice providers, OU Health is home to Oklahoma’s largest physician network with a complete range of specialty care. OU Health serves Oklahoma and the region with the state’s only freestanding children’s hospital, the only National Cancer Institute-Designated Stephenson Cancer Center and Oklahoma’s flagship hospital, which serves as the state’s only Level 1 trauma center. OU Health is the No. 1 ranked hospital system in Oklahoma, and its oncology program at Stephenson Cancer Center and OU Medical Center ranked in the Top 50 in the nation, in the 2019-2020 rankings released by U.S. News & World Report. OU Health was also ranked by U.S. News & World Report as high performing in four specialties: Ophthalmology in partnership with Dean McGee Eye Institute, Colon Surgery, COPD and Congestive Heart Failure. OU Health’s mission is to lead healthcare in patient care, education and research. To learn more, visit