National Pesticide Information Center



Air and Pesticides

Air quality is a measure of the amount of pollutants in our atmosphere, which includes indoor and outdoor air. Pesticides in agriculture and urban settings have the potential to contaminate our air, affecting human, animal and plant health. Some pesticide ingredients stay in the atmosphere for only a short period of time, while others can last longer. Pesticides released into the air can settle to the ground, be broken down by sun light and water in the atmosphere, or dissipate into the surrounding air.

When are pesticides in the air a health risk?

It depends on...

  • how toxic the pesticides are
  • how much pesticide is in the air
  • how much a person breathes or gets exposed to

How do pesticides get into the air?

  • Application of pesticides in or around homes, buildings or on farms
  • During the manufacture of pesticides and their ingredients
  • As a result of spills, accidents and natural disasters

How can I minimize my exposure to pesticides in the air?

  • Follow label directions when you use pesticides
  • Use IPM practices to control pests
  • Monitor the weather when applying pesticides; avoid very hot or windy days
  • Consider staying inside with doors and windows closed when pesticides are being applied nearby

How can I find out about my air quality?

  • EPA and other agencies monitor air quality and regulate emissions
  • Local weather stations often post local air quality information
  • Testing air samples collected in or around your home

To learn more, visit these resources:

If you have questions about pesticides in the environment, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email at npic@ace.orst.edu.

Additional Resources

Last updated November 3, 2015