National pesticide service offers mobile delivery of info

phone operator
Colton Bond answers a pesticide safety question on the NPIC hotline—available in 170 languages. (Photo: Stephen Ward)

The OSU-based center expands its online presence with 4 apps

Answers about how to use pesticides safely or employ alternative methods aren't always within reach, especially if gardening or traveling.

To remedy that, the National Pesticide Information Center at OSU has launched four mobile-friendly Web applications for smartphones or tablets. The most popular app, the Pesticide Education and Search Tool, offers quick, bulleted information on how to deal with more than a dozen common pests, and it lists ingredients in certain pesticides. Another app contains information specifically about products that repel ticks and mosquitos. A third app helps users find pesticide-related services in their area. All of the apps suggest alternatives to pesticides for common urban pests, like fleas, rodents and bed bugs.

The center receives calls and website traffic from every U.S. state. In 2013, more than 1.8 million visitors accessed its website, which received over 32 million overall hits. The center answered questions from more than 17,000 people by phone and email. Each question is handled by an expert with advanced training in toxicology, food safety, veterinary medicine or other scientific field. Its toll-free hotline is available in over 170 languages, including Spanish, Mandarin, Russian and Farsi.

The center continues to add new online services, including a ZIP code-driven locator for emergency services. Data from pesticide incidents also help inform national surveillance systems, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which used the center's information to issue an advisory about the misuse of pesticides for bed bug control.

Source: Kaci Buhl, National Pesticide Information Center

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