Labels can increase worker and consumer pesticide awareness

It's a given that industrial labels for chemicals, no matter which industry the particular contents are meant for, need to be up-to-date and factual, and easily read by the human eye: this will depend on specifics to your company and its product, but can also draw from basic, generic tactics and elements like color, placement and accuracy.

In addition to this, though, it's necessary for the handlers of industrial chemicals to be properly outfitted when they approach a substance that could cause harm. Along with the standard visual symbols and warnings on the chemicals themselves, the manufacturers that handle the protective equipment may need to be specific and call out the situations in which their garments become a necessity.

For example, an AG Professional post recently pointed out that not all materials for gloves and other gear are going to be equally valuable in every situation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has special guidelines for the way that different protections can be described, according to a table that this article provides.

Going by these rules, the term "waterproof gloves," for example, denotes items that are "made of material that allows no measurable movement of water or aqueous solutions through the material during use." These little words can be more important than even a professional might realize in this situation and lead to better performance and a reduced means of risk.

But while a worker in this environment might know more about the amounts of pesticides that are dangerous to a consumer, labels can also bridge the gap to make this type of knowledge more common. 

How much is too much exposure?

There's a pressing need for good, reliable, public-facing pesticide information, according to a press release from the yogurt company Stonyfield. That release quoted a recent study in which a disturbing disparity was identified: while 75 percent of the 1,000 consumers surveyed claimed they were concerned about consuming pesticides, more than half weren't able to correctly define certain phrases that appear on labels.

It's another case in which wording is extremely important. Even if it meets government standards and legally describes a pesticide's potential danger, there's a certain element of readability that might be lost. And on top of that, there's also the ambiguity surrounding popular words like "natural."

Pesticide labels can be helpful for both factory workers and consumers if they use clear language. The release quoted Dr. Alex Lu, a biology professor from Harvard, on the need for trustworthy sources of information. 

"Building awareness about how foods are produced and where pesticides can be found is an important first step in reducing our consumption of them," Dr. Lu said.

For an example of a real company that suffered losses due to this kind of discrepancy, we can turn to an article in the Wichita Business Journal. That source describes American Chemical Systems II Inc., a company that is facing thousands in fines after allegedly mislabeling its products on purpose.

Fostering Trust

Aside from avoiding litigation, durable labels that contain accurate information are simply a matter of maintaining a company that is trustworthy.

Leave a Comment