Guide

Pesticides and biocides

How to deal with pesticide and biocide spills

You should know how to deal with incidents involving pesticides or biocides. Incidents include:

  • spills of pesticides or biocides to the environment
  • adverse reactions or illness caused by exposure to pesticides or biocides, eg respiratory problems
  • pets or wild animals being poisoned due to irresponsible or illegal use of pesticides or biocides

Prepare for pesticide pollution incidents

If you use pesticides and biocides as part of your job you must be trained in emergency procedures. Your emergency action plans should be kept up to date to cover new equipment or new ways of working. Many product labels will have specific advice on what to do if there is an incident. This information is always on the manufacturer's safety data sheet, which you should be able to get when you buy the product.

Make sure that your staff are familiar with emergency procedures and know how to implement them. If you store lots of pesticides or biocides - for example, if you have a warehouse - you may need to install a spill alarm so that you can evacuate the building if there is an incident.

Keep a spill kit nearby

You should ensure that you have a spill kit close to where you might need it. Your spill kit should contain absorbent materials such as sand or cat litter, and other containment equipment suitable for the type and quantity of pesticides and biocides you store and use on your site.

Try to prevent liquid spills from entering drains or watercourses. For example, use earth to block the flow of large spills, or use sand or a commercial spill kit to soak them up.

You should never hose down a spill, as you could cause a much worse pollution incident. If you store pesticides or biocides in a vehicle, you should also carry a suitable spill kit.

Use bunds and drip trays

You should store all pesticides and biocides in an area where you can contain spills. This should be on or within a secondary containment system such as:

  • an impermeable bunded area
  • a bunded pallet or spill pallet
  • a sump pallet
  • a bunded storage unit
  • a drip tray

See our guide on storing chemicals.

Prevent environmental damage from pesticides and biocides

Water pollution can be classed as environmental damage in some circumstances. You must prevent and remedy environmental damage that occurs from water pollution or land contamination caused by your business activities. If anyone else reports environmental damage as a result of your activities, an enforcing authority will have to investigate - see preventing water pollution.

Report pesticides and biocides pollution incidents

You should report any pollution incidents as soon as they happen to the NIEA Water Pollution Hotline on Tel 0800 80 70 60.

If you suspect that your health has been adversely affected by pesticides or biocides, you should report it to the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) - download pesticide incident notification form (PDF, 161K).

If you suspect wildlife has been harmed by an incident involving pesticides or biocides, you should call the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) Helpline on Tel 0800 321 600.