Pesticides Safe Despite Memphis Arrests (230)

 KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Illegal use of pesticides is rare, a University of Tennessee farm chemical specialist said Friday.

 Most pest control companies and farmers use pesticides safely and responsibly, according to Dr. Neil Rhodes of UT’s Agricultural Extension Service.

 “The pesticide industry, farmers, and pest control operators that are trained and licensed all have excellent records of proper use of pesticides, with good results in harmony with the environment,” Rhodes said.

“When we have a situation where someone blatantly ignores the label and intentionally misuses the product, then everybody loses.”

 An Arkansas man was arrested Wednesday for using a powerful agricultural pesticide inside Memphis-area buildings. The chemical, intended only for outdoor use on such pests as cotton boll weevils, is dangerous to humans when used indoors.

 Two Memphis men were arrested on similar charges earlier this summer. Telephone hotlines have been set up in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi for people who fear agricultural chemicals might have been used on their homes, Rhodes said.

 Licensing, labeling and federal regulation ensure proper pesticide use, but negative news about abuse can skew public perception of pesticide safety, Rhodes said. However, people only seem to hear of the small number of cases of misuse, he said.

 “They don’t hear about the numerous success stories that happen everyday such as bigger crop yields and prevention of disease from pests.”

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 Contact: Dr. Neil Rhodes(423-974-7208)