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Rules for Atrazine Use in Florida

By Leslie Howerton
Atrazine is used in Florida to kill broadleaf and grassy weeds in St. Augustinegrass.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), atrazine is the most commonly used herbicide in the United States. In Florida, it's used to kill lawn weeds and maintain St. Augustinegrass, the most common lawn grass in the state. The Florida Senate has a list of statutes and regulations posted on its website pertaining to industrial growers and pesticide dealers who must be licensed to handle, store and sell atrazine. Household users need to know the dangers of atrazine and how to prevent it from harming humans, animals and plants.

Safety Precautions

Atrazine is harmful to humans if swallowed or inhaled, or if it comes in contact with the skin or eyes. There is no known antidote for atrazine, so safety precautions are vital when using it. Read all the safety measures on the package and follow the directions. Wear long sleeves and long pants, rubber gloves that cover any exposed skin at the wrist, safety goggles and a mask. Make sure no other people are around the site you're treating, and don't allow anyone to return to the treated site until the chemical is dry.

Application

Atrazine is commonly used as a spray. It should not be used in temperatures above 85 degrees, or on turf that is too moist. The Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences (IFAS), a research department at the University of Florida, recommends applying atrazine in south Florida by February 1, central Florida by February 15, and north Florida by March 1. IFAS also suggests contacting your local county cooperative extension office to help positively identify weeds and to learn about the latest treatment recommendations before you spray.

Environmental Hazards

Atrazine can seep into ground water, especially in areas of sandy or loamy soil with water tables close to the surface. Ground water often becomes drinking water, and the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) stipulates that the Maximum Containment Level (MCL) for atrazine in drinking water be no more than three parts-per-billion. Atrazine is also toxic to fresh water and salt water aquatic life, including amphibians. These environmental concerns mean you shouldn't spray atrazine near bodies of water or on wet ground with the potential for run off.

Registration & Licenses

Florida requires commercial pesticide users to obtain a license for applying atrazine. You can choose from four categories of licenses depending on your business: a local occupational license, a limited certification for commercial landscape maintenance license, a pest control business license or a certified operators certificate. Detailed records of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP) must be kept in compliance with state law. Record obligations, eligibility requirements and applications are available from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control.

 

About the Author

 

Leslie Howerton began writing in 2008, and has been published in the "Kaleidoscope" newspaper. She received five Student Medallion awards for writing from the Public Relations Council of Alabama in 2009. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alabama in public relations.