Chemicals such as insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, veterinary chemicals and fuels are commonly handled on farms. These chemicals can be dangerous and need to be handled and stored with care.
Always store chemicals in a safe place and don’t store or mix chemicals in an unlabelled container.
Because farms are often homes as well as workplaces, potential contact with chemicals by all family members is increased. There is also the possibility that chemical matter/residue is taken back into the home, for example on clothing or footwear.
Chemicals can be absorbed through contact with the skin or eyes, inhalation, or ingestion.
Always wash your hands carefully after handling chemicals and remove soiled clothing before you enter your home. Remember not to eat or drink where chemicals are used.
Unfortunately, sometimes the effects of exposure to chemicals are difficult to pick up until chronic (long-term) illness has occurred.
There are many chemicals used on the farm and some of them can be dangerous. Common agricultural chemicals include fuels, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and veterinary chemicals. Exposure to chemicals can lead to health effects including headache, poisoning, nausea, respiratory illness, burns, cancers and birth defects. Always follow the manufacturers’ instructions for storage, transport, use and disposal of chemicals. Keep all chemicals locked away and out of reach of children and wear appropriate protective gear such as gloves and eye protection.
Find out more about this topic on Better Health Channel
References used for this topic page
Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority
Access to safe and effective agricultural and veterinary chemicals
Hazardous chemicals on the farm (PDF)
Environmental Protection Agency (US)
Recognition and management of pesticide poisonings
Research & reviews:
Department of Health (Aust)
Chemical safety – first aid and safety directions handbook
Last updated: 13th February, 2018