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Gardening… all naturally

2016 Edition

Did you know that...?

Did you know that there are risks in buying pesticides online?

In recent years, an increasing number of homeowners and gardeners have been looking on the web to obtain pesticides for use in their homes and gardens. Consumers purchasing pesticides online should be careful because many of those products are not approved for sale in Canada.

Before a pesticide is allowed to be used or sold in Canada, it must undergo a rigorous scientific assessment to confirm that it will not pose unacceptable risks to human health or the environment when used according to the instructions on the label. Using an unregistered pesticide may be dangerous.

Therefore, homeowners and gardeners should only purchase products bearing a Pest Control Product Registration Number on the label. They should read the instructions on the label and follow the directions carefully.

Did you know that some products sold in pet shops are pesticides?

Most shampoos, lotions, powders, flea collars and tags for dogs and cats are pesticides. Cat and dog owners must read the label and follow instructions when using a product against fleas and ticks, especially if the product is applied directly to their pet’s skin.

Improper use of these products can cause reactions to cats and dogs. Skin irritation is the most common symptom. Other reactions include neuromuscular disorders (tremors) or gastrointestinal problems (vomiting).

Did you know that treated wood cannot be used as firewood?

Burn pressure wood and surface-treated wood are considered safe when used as intended, but should never be burned. Whether used for bonfire or in a fireplace, combustion of treated wood products can release highly toxic chemicals substances that can make you sick. Wood preservatives are pesticide products that protect wood from insects and other pests but they can be hazardous to your health if not handled properly.

Did you know that less than a 500 ml bottle of concentrated diazinon, an insecticide used to control some fruit and vegetable pests, can contaminate an amount of water equivalent to the size of an Olympic swimming pool?

The drinking water safety standard for diazinon is 0,02 mg/l. Therefore, it only takes 400 ml of a concentrated solution (12.5 %) of this pesticide to contaminate 2,500,000 litres of water beyond the safety standard. That’s the size of an Olympic swimming pool. It would be enough to meet the needs of 1,250,000 people on the based on the recommended consumption of 8 glasses of water a day per person.

Did you know that some pesticides that are applied outdoors may find their way inside the home?

Some pesticides are brought indoors through traffic from people and pets. The pesticides penetrate house dust and can last longer indoors, sheltered from the wind, sun and rain.

Did you know that preparing, storing or using homemade pesticides could jeopardize both your health and the environment?

Unlike regulated pesticides, homemade pesticides do not undergo scientific assessment nor do they have labels with instructions to ensure safe use and handling for optimal pest control. Some homemade pesticides, for example those that require cooking, may pose health or environmental hazards.

To learn more about this topic, please visit the Health Canada website – Homemade Pesticides.

Did you know that green space products account for more than half of domestic sector sales volume?

Mothballs, made from 100% naphthalene or para-dichlorobenzene, and insect repellents together, occupy the first place of pesticides sales in the domestic sector. Pesticides for lawn, trees and shrubs occupy nearly a third of the quantities sold. Other sales are shared between rodenticides and animal repellents, indoor pesticides, wood preservatives and domestic pet products.


Be a wise consumer


Remember, pesticides only correct a situation temporarily. To avoid dependence on these products, you must first modify your practices that need to change.

I have correctly identified the undesirable organism.    
I have tried alternatives recommended in this column.    
The application is straightforward and does not require professional expertise.    
I have protective equipment that I intend to use.    

N.B.: If the answer to any one of these questions is "No", I should not apply the treatment. I will contact a professional or reassess the situation.

  • If you must buy a pesticide…

Did you know that since 2006…
  • you can no longer buy the most toxic pesticides for lawn maintenance?

The Pesticides Management Code prohibits the sale of certain domestic class pesticides intended for lawn maintenance, namely those containing one of the active ingredients mentioned in Appendix I of the Pesticides Management Code.

From now on, green space maintenance services are forbidden to apply those pesticides on private and commercial property lawns.

Did you know that since 2005…

  • you can no longer use yourself when you wish to buy some pesticides intended for domestic use that are sold in retail sales outlets?

The Pesticides Management Code requires retailers to shelve higher risk pesticides that can be harmful to human health and the environment in a way that customers can no longer serve themselves. Retailers may display these pesticides in the manner they deem most appropriate for their sales outlet, by placing them behind the counter or in a locked area.

Because these higher risk pesticides are out of reach, customers must from now on obtain them from a certified vendor. Vendors thus have the opportunity to better inform and help customers to identify the pest, to give them advice to obtain the least harmful product, or to choose alternative solutions.

Class of pesticides intended for domestic use Retailers are required to…
Class 4 pesticides, except in the case of pesticides used as wood preservatives or antifouling paint Take action so that these pesticides are out of reach of customers
Class 5 pesticides (PDF, 461 KB) No regulatory obligation concerning product display. Retailers may choose to make these pesticides freely accessible to customers

Did you know that since April 2004...

  • it is prohibited to sell fertilizers mixed with herbicide or insecticide, and fertilizers to combat crabgrass and moss?

In fact, the Pesticides Management Code prohibits the sale of domestic class pesticides mixed or impregnated with fertilizer.

However, corn gluten meal is authorized for use on lawns. This product is not a mixture of fertilizer and pesticide.

  • the sale of packages containing more than one container is prohibited?

The sale of this type of packing remains prohibited, except if the label of the product mentions the presence of multiple containers (for instance, ant traps sold in packages of 3).

The first step is to consult a salesperson to discuss your problem; you will be advised to use, preferably, the following products:

  • The least toxic products:
    • low-risk pesticides (e.g.: insecticide soap or sulphur); those whose packages do not bear a skull-and-crossbones precautionary symbol.
  • Ready-to-use products, because they have the following advantages:
    • they are not concentrated and are therefore less toxic to the person handling them;
    • they present fewer handling risks because no mixing is required;
    • you are certain to apply the correct dose;
    • they are easy-to-use for local applications.
  • Products available in small or season-adapted formats to avoid storage.
  • Products in shock-resistant receptacles (avoid paper and glass containers).
  • Products designed for specific uses, to avoid killing beneficial organisms.
Read labels carefully and make sure you fully understand the information provided before purchase and use. The product label is a source of essential information for the user.


The warning symbols on pesticide labels indicate whether the product represents a health risk.


 More sides to the symbol indicate a higher risk.


The absence of a symbol does not mean that there is no risk of poisoning. It simply indicates that the risk is lower.

Above and beyond the risks of poisoning, the use of certain pesticides can entail other risks linked to their flammable, corrosive and/or explosive nature.

Wear adequate protective clothing and use appropriate safety equipment during preparation and application. If the label does not indicate the appropriate type of protective gear to be worn given the nature and extent of the risk involved, it is recommended that you wear a long-sleeve shirt, long pants, and waterproof gloves and boots. After use, rinse contaminated equipment and wash contaminated clothes separately from the rest of your laundry.

Click to enlarge (French)

Behave responsibly. Advise neighbours concerning scheduled treatment. Close the windows of your house to avoid pesticide infiltration. During treatment, ensure that any object that could be contaminated is removed (e.g.: toys), and cover objects that cannot be moved (e.g.: sandbox). Never prepare or apply pesticides near an individual tube well since pesticides could contaminate your source of drinking water. Remember to observe the 3-metres distance requirement from rivers, lakes and streams.

Make sure that no human or pet is nearby during pesticide preparation or application and that they have no contact whatsoever with treated surfaces for at least 24 hours. After a pesticide application, post the sign provided by pesticide retailers.

In case of accidental spillage, quickly cover the spilled product with a sufficiently thick layer of absorbent material (cat litter, vermiculite, newspaper, etc.) and wait until it has been soaked up. Never hose down with water. Put the pesticide-soaked material in a plastic bag and throw it away in a garbage can lined with another plastic bag.

Store pesticides in a safe placeStore pesticides in a safe place in order to reduce the risk of poisoning and to maintain their effectiveness. Always put pesticides away under lock and key or in a place that is securely clasped. Keep pesticides in their original containers. Never transfer them to receptacles that formerly contained food or drink for human or animal consumption since the pesticides could be erroneously ingested.

Drain empty receptacles carefully and rinse using the triple rinsing technique. Crush then perforate the rinsed containers to ensure that they will not be used for any other purpose. Throw them out with your domestic garbage; they should under no circumstances be burned or buried.

Never throw pesticides (concentrates, leftover prepared pesticides, waste water from the container-rinsing process, past-date products, etc.) down the sink, into the sewer system (sewage treatment plants are not designed to treat water containing pesticides) into a ditch or on the ground near a well, watercourse or septic tank. Leftover pesticides (both concentrates and diluted) must be stored above 0° Celsius and kept away from children. Check with your municipality and dispose of leftover pesticides when your municipality collects hazardous domestic waste.

If someone close to you becomes ill from pesticides

Guide the person to a well-ventilated area and ask him/her to lie down on his/her side. Contact the Québec Poison Control Centre at 1 800 463-5060 (toll free telephone emergency, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or in the Québec City area (local call) at (418) 656-8090, and follow their instructions to the letter. If the person’s condition appears serious, go immediately to the hospital, bringing the label of the product in question.

In cases of false or misleading representation of a good or service, or of breach of contract, you can file a complaint with the Office de la protection du consommateur (Québec consumer protection office).

For more information

To learn the regulatory requirements for pesticides that govern green space maintenance services, please refer to the document entitled “Protecting the environment and health in green spaces.”

To learn the rules governing pesticide use that must be observed in places frequented by children, please refer to the document entitled “Protecting the environment and health in childcare centres and schools.”


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