How Pesticides Can Set Your House On Fire

      How Pesticides Can Set Your House On Fire

      The primary objective in the design and management of pesticide stores is to reduce the risk of fire. Prevention is better than cure!

      Pesticides, especially those formulated as liquids, present major fire hazards because the solvents used in formulations (oils and petroleum distillates) have low flashpoints and may be readily vaporized at normal temperatures. In poorly ventilated stores heavy vapours may accumulate near the floor if drums are left open or if leaks and spills are not cleared up. An electrical spark, naked flame or even the sun’s rays concentrated by a glass container may cause an explosion followed by the spread of fire.

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      Some wettable powders are suspected of starting fires through spontaneous combustion, while sodium chlorate (used as a herbicide, defoliant, desiccant and soil sterilant) is a powerful oxidizing agent that easily catches fire and should only be supplied with a fire suppressant in the formulation (once sodium chlorate containers have been opened their entire contents should be used immediately).
      The outside of pesticide stores should bear prominently displayed warning notices stating “Danger pesticides: authorized persons only” and “No smoking: no naked flame” as well as symbols. These rules should be strictly followed.

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      Fire extinguishers (powder or carbon dioxide, not water) should be available in the store and should be regularly checked. Static or running water (required, together with soap, for decontamination purposes anyway) should also be available and buckets of sand or earth (also required for absorbing any liquid pesticide spills or leaks) are useful for putting out small fires


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