Agricultural chemicals and waste management

Contact with plant protection products – Hazards and necessary measures

Any professional user who applies products in agricultural and non-agricultural areas and sells RDPs must undergo specialised training on the subject. Completion of the training entitles them to purchase and use plant protection products for 5 years.

Plant protection products intended for professional users may be sold to persons who:

  1. have completed training in the use of plant protection products in Poland, as attested by a certificate of completion of that training, or
  2. have completed training in advising on plant protection products in Poland, as attested by a certificate of completion of that training, or
  3. have completed training in integrated plant production as evidenced by a certificate of completion of that training, or,
  4. have, not earlier than five years before acquiring those products, completed the training required for professional users in the European Union or in a State party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area on the basis of the provisions in force in that State, as attested by a document certifying completion of that training, or have presented another document issued on the basis of the provisions in force in that State, certifying entitlement to acquire plant protection products intended for professional users.

Basic training in advising on plant protection products, in the use of plant protection products and in integrated plant production shall not be required for persons who hold a certificate issued by a post-secondary school or university, stating that all subjects included in the training programme in the field in question have been covered in the person’s educational record. These entitlements shall be valid for a period of 5 years from the date of obtaining the education or qualification. After this period, the retention of these ratings requires the completion of follow-up training.

Persons providing such training and academic staff of universities or research institutes are exempted from the obligation to complete the aforementioned training if their duties include teaching, research or development work in the field of agriculture, horticulture or forestry.

In order to take part in a training course and receive a certificate attesting to its completion, one must apply to a unit authorised to organise such courses. A list of centres organising training is available on the website of the State Plant Protection and Seed Inspection.

Persons working with plant protection products are required to undergo periodic medical examinations at Occupational Health facilities, permitting them to carry out these activities. One of the necessary tests may be a cholinesterase level test to determine the degree of exposure to toxins. In addition to good general health, users of EDs must not suffer from any, even minor, health problems, colds, weakness, cuts, etc.

The greatest risk of absorption of the plant protection product occurs when working with the concentrated product, before and during dilution with water. Required protection when pouring a concentrated product into the sprayer is the wearing of a protective face mask, overalls, safety boots and gloves; a waterproof apron may also be useful. When applying the spray liquid, an additional hazard is the ingress of the agent into the human respiratory system. Label instructions for the use of personal protective equipment must be followed in detail. Undesirable ingress of spray mist or vapour into the cabin can occur during treatment. If a risk of poisoning arises, it is necessary to:

  • stop work,
  • remove the source of contamination,
  • remove contaminated clothing,
  • wash contaminated skin, eyes,
  • seek medical attention (take the product label with you).

When poisoning occurs, it is important to act as quickly as possible and, if necessary, contact toxicology centres. The labels of the products give specific instructions on how to proceed in the event of a suspected poisoning, but it is always worth bearing in mind the following general principles:

  • if you feel unwell, stop working and inform someone,
  • if someone else feels unwell, call for medical help immediately (take the label of the product with you),
  • provide first aid if necessary,
  • do not resume work with plant protection products until you have received medical advice and information that it is safe to do so.

The operator – the person carrying out the chemical treatment – must be able to change his clothes before and after work, wash his entire body thoroughly with plenty of warm, soapy water, and rinse his mouth. Clothing used for chemical treatment must be stored separately from clean clothing, discarded as hazardous waste when contaminated, or washed separately from any other clothing.