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Poison Center Helpline 1-800-222-1222


IPC handles more than 1,200 poisoning cases every year that involved insecticides and pesticides.

IPC advises people to follow the label directions carefully and wash your hands after using insect repellents and pesticides, to avoid getting them into the eyes or mouth. If you are accidentally exposed to a large amount of insect repellent or pesticide, wash the skin or flush the eyes with water and contact IPC immediately.

One of the most common problems regarding pesticide poisonings occurs when people mix or dilute the pesticide and prepare more than they require for one application. Rather than properly disposing of the leftover pesticide, people often store the prepared amount in an unmarked bucket or container for future use; this can cause children or adults to mistake the product for something else. You should always store pesticides in the original containers, complete with labels that list ingredients, directions for use and first-aid steps in case of an accidental exposure.


  • Read the directions on each container, since every chemical is different  
  • Follow the specified directions for mixing solutions and rinsing spray containers  
  • Wear protective clothing when applying pesticides (gloves, glasses, long sleeves and pants)
  • Never apply pesticides outdoors on a windy day. Position yourself so that the wind will not blow pesticide spray or dust into your face
  • Keep children and pets away during application and until the product dries, or as directed on the label
  • Store pesticides in their original containers and out of reach in a cool, dry place
  • Dispose of the remaining pesticide as directed and rinse out the empty container  
  • Wipe down any household or garden tools that may have been exposed to the pesticide  
  • Wash your hands with soap and change your clothes after applying a pesticide   •

Keep the IPC phone number (1-800-222-1222) on or near all telephones. Approximately 90 percent of cases from the general public can be managed at home. If you suspect a plant or pesticide exposure has occurred, begin administering the following first-aid treatment recommendations; then call 1-800-222-1222.

In the event of an exposure:

  • Exposure to the mouth: Give the victim a small amount of water.
  • Exposure to the skin: Wash skin with soap and cool water immediately. Remove any contaminated clothing.
  • Exposure to the eyes: Rinse eyes with lukewarm water for 15 minutes.

Methyl Bromide

Methyl bromide is a chemical used as a pesticide to clean up soil and buildings. At room temperature (70°F), methyl bromide is a colorless gas. It is usually shipped as a liquefied gas. At low concentrations, methyl bromide does not have an odor.  At high concentrations, it has a musty or fruity smell.

A person can come into contact with methyl bromide by being in an area where the gas is being used as a pesticide to kill insects (in soil or in buildings). Typically, the area is covered with a tent and the gas is pumped in. Methyl bromide also can be manufactured by mixing certain chemicals together to create a gas.

Please note: Just because you come into contact with methyl bromide does not mean you will get sick from it.

Signs of a poisoning include the following:

  • Redness and pain of the skin •
  • Dizziness
  • Blisters •
  • Headache
  • Burning of the eyes, mouth and nose •
  • Confusion
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea •
  • Lack of energy  
  • Kidney problems •
  • Seizures   
  • Cough •
  • Coma
  • Chest tightness •
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fluid in the lungs •
  • Rapid heart rate

The effects of methyl bromide will depend on the concentration of exposure, length of time and way the person is exposed. A highly concentrated solution or large amount in the air is more likely to cause severe effects, including death.

Prevention of illness after contact:

  1. Frst, leave the area where the methyl bromide was released and move to fresh air.
  2. Then, quickly take off clothing that may have methyl bromide on it. If possible, any clothing that has to be pulled over the head should be cut off the body instead so the chemical does not get near the eyes, mouth or nose.  If helping other people remove their clothing, try to avoid touching any contaminated areas.)       
  3. As quickly as possible, wash any methyl bromide from the skin with lots of soap and water.       
  4. If the eyes are burning or vision is blurred, rinse your eyes with plain water for 10 to 15 minutes.       
  5. If contact lenses are worn, remove them and put them with the contaminated clothing. Do not put the contacts back in. If eyeglasses are worn, wash them with soap and water. Eyeglasses can be put back on after they are washed.       
  6. If you are wearing jewelry that you can wash with soap and water, wash it and put it back on. If it cannot be washed, put it with the contaminated clothing.   
  7. Discard contaminated items. Place the clothing and any other contaminated items inside a plastic bag. Avoid touching contaminated areas of the clothing. If you can't avoid touching contaminated areas, or you aren't sure where the contaminated areas are, wear rubber gloves or use tongs, sticks or similar objects. Anything that touches the contaminated clothing should also be placed in the bag.       
  8. Seal the bag, and then seal that bag inside another plastic bag.       
  9. Call the local county health department right away. When the local or state health department or emergency personnel arrive, tell them what you did with your clothes. The health department or emergency personnel will arrange for further disposal. Do not handle the plastic bags yourself.

•Treatment of illness: There is no specific treatment for methyl bromide poisoning. Supportive care (intravenous fluids, medicine to control pain) is the standard treatment. There is no vaccine for methyl bromide poisoning.

If you or someone you know is showing symptoms of methyl bromide poisoning, call your health care provider or the Illinois Poison Center right away.  The toll-free number for the poison center is 1-800-222-1222.