The answer to that question depends on the situation.
This spring when we are out in the neighborhood or at the park we may encounter someone applying pesticides. There are some things we should and should not do. Here's a breakdown.
Should I take a video or picture?
If there is a pesticide notification sign, especially at a park or other public place, yes, you can and should document it.
If it is a worker spraying or applying a pesticide, you should proceed with caution, and think carefully before recording any video or taking photographs.
Make sure you know the law in your state with regard to recording and photographing people in public places. Avoid confronting workers and never harass them while they are doing their job. Feedback should be directed to decision-makers like city council representatives, not contractors or individual staff.
If you feel you must take video or photographs to document and it is legal to do so, take them from a safe distance away from any potential pesticide drift.
Should I post it on social media or my website?
If you took a picture of a notification sign, it's definitely reasonable to share it to alert others. Signs are up for a limited time, and many people may not be aware of applications happening. This may be the only way for them to find out, and it is more than reasonable for you to share this information. Always feel free to document and share pesticide application signs or notices wherever appropriate.
If you legally took videos of workers spraying, consider if their faces are showing and how you present the photos or video. Consider your tone. Obscure faces if possible. We do not want to single out workers or shame them. They have the some of the highest pesticide exposure - and we also need to remember that more often than not, they may have been convinced that what they are applying is perfectly safe.
We want groundskeepers and landscapers to adopt organic practices. This is not achieved by putting them up as a target for public outrage or ridicule on social media accounts or websites. Seriously consider this before choosing to post any pictures or videos, and always use good judgement.
Should I call someone?
If you suspect pesticides have been applied in a manner that is illegal, you should immediately contact your state's department of agriculture. Find your state pesticide regulatory agency here.
DO NOT try to mitigate pesticide contamination by yourself. Depending on what chemicals or products were used, this may make the situation worse, and it may make it harder for investigators to collect evidence for your complaint.
Some states do not accept pictures or videos as part of their report, while others do. Check to see what the law is in your state.
You may wish to contact a private attorney for civil action if this is appropriate.
How should I protect myself and my family?
Beyond Pesticides has excellent resources here under What to Do in a Pesticide Emergency
What can I do to stop toxic pesticides from being used?
Visit our resources page to find tools to help you advocate for the adoption of organic landscaping practices in your city, town, school or HOA.