Excessive application of herbicides contributes to pollution. Excess herbicides are washed away through irrigation, rain, groundwater movement and storm water runoff. Herbicides that degrade slowly also contribute to pollution of the air and waterways. Non-water soluble herbicides stay in the water and are moved farther distances, because the herbicide does not break down into less harmful elements. Herbicides come in many forms: dusts, sprays, granulars, fumigants and antimicrobial paints and other surface coatings.
Runoff buildup in lakes, streams and rivers poisons the fishing industry and causes health problems in seals, manatees and other water-dwelling animals. It also affects wildlife, including birds that feed on affected plants and drink the polluted water.
Choose organic herbicides made from plants and bacteria to treat your crops or plants. Organic herbicides create much less damage to the surrounding plant and animal life. If you must use other herbicides, apply them as directed on the package to minimize environmental chemical damage.
Herbicides contain toxic substances. Use gloves when handling herbicides. Store pesticides away from storm water and children. Find a dry place where rain cannot leach into containers of herbicide dust and granular materials. Dispose of the empty herbicide containers in an appropriate manner (instructions are usually included on the label for each particular herbicide).
Choose a granular herbicide over liquid, because plants tend to use more of the granular type. Liquid herbicides can soak into the ground or be carried off by storm water runoff. Do not apply herbicides just before a rain, because the plant does not have enough time to soak up the herbicide and it will just wash away. Ineffective use of herbicides not only endangers the environment, but it wastes money, as the plants must be retreated.