What are they?

A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. Pests can be insects, mice and other animals, unwanted plants (weeds) or fungi. Though often considered only insecticides, the term pesticide also applies to herbicides, fungicides, and various other substances used to control pests. There are more than 1,400 different active pesticide ingredients used in over 45,000 pesticide formulations.

Many household products contain pesticides. Here is a list of common products considered to be pesticides.

  • Ant and Roach sprays and baits.
  • Insect repellents for personal use.
  • Mice, Rat and other rodent poisons.
  • Flea and tick sprays, powders, and pet collars.
  • Products that kill mold and mildew, including paints.
  • Some lawn and garden products, such as weed killers.
  • Some swimming pool chemicals.

What Makes it Hazardous?

By their very nature, most pesticides create some risk of harm to humans, animals, or the environment because they are designed to kill or otherwise adversely affect living organisms. At the same time, pesticides are useful to society because of their ability to control insects, weeds, and other pests.

The environmental and health danger present when a pesticide is used depends upon the length of time the pesticide takes to break down, the substances it breaks down into, its ability to be stored in tissues, and its toxicity to different organisms in the environment. Poisonings from pesticides may be immediate (acute) or long-term from repeated exposure (chronic), causing mild burns or eventual cancer. Exposure can occur through skin absorption, inhalation, or ingestion. Pesticides may be unknowingly ingested by eating food which had pesticides applied or by eating food with hands contaminated with pesticides.

Safety Tips

Some of the more toxic pesticides have been banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA governs labeling and registration of pesticides. For more detailed information the dangers or types of pesticides, the list of banned pesticides, how to use, transport and much more, contact the Environmental Protection Agency or the Montana Department of Agriculture.

Disposal Options


  • Give leftover useable pesticide, in original container, to friend or relative who needs it and can safely use it up.


  • Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event