When selecting a pesticide, make sure you read the label to ensure that you have the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed to mix, load and apply that product.
According to Betsy Buffington, Iowa State University Extension program specialist, PPE includes gloves, an apron, chemical-resistant footwear, coveralls and chemical- resistant suits, chemical-resistant headgear, protective eyewear and respirators.
PPE reduces exposure but does not eliminate it, Buffington said in an Extension news release.
The pesticide label lists what PPE must be worn. If the label does not refer to PPE, use a minimum of protection such as a long sleeve shirt, long pants, shoes, socks and waterproof gloves. If two or more pesticides are used at the same time, you must use the PPE from the pesticide label that is most restrictive or requires the most protective PPE.
Your hands and forearms get the most exposure from pesticides. Gloves must be the type specified on the pesticide product labeling.
When “chemical-resistant” gloves are listed on the label, it is referring to PPE that is made of a material that allows no measurable movement of the pesticide through the material during use. Do not wear lined gloves because the lining can absorb pesticides. Separate glove liners may be worn beneath chemical-resistant gloves.
If you must remove your gloves during a handling activity, wash the gloves thoroughly before taking them off, wash your hands thoroughly and dry them before touching anything, and put the gloves on again when you return to work. Keep several pairs of gloves available and change to a clean set whenever they become damaged or contaminated.
Be careful not to allow pesticide to run down your sleeves into your gloves.
The label may require a chemical-resistant apron when mixing and loading a pesticide. The apron must be long enough to cover the front of your body from mid-chest to the knees.
Chemical-resistant boots, shoes or shoe coverings should be worn for pesticide work. Put your pant legs outside your boots to prevent pesticides from funneling onto your foot.
Coveralls and chemical-resistant suits must be loose-fitting, one- or two-piece garments that cover, at a minimum, the entire body except for your head, hands and feet. When the pesticide label requires coveralls to be worn, it means cloth garments. They are not required to be chemical-resistant. If full-body chemical-resistant protection is required, the label will specify a chemical- resistant suit instead of coveralls.
Do not wear hats such as baseball caps when handling pesticides. When “chemical- resistant headgear” is specified by the product labeling, it must be either a chemical resistant hood or a chemical-resistant hat with a wide brim.
When “protective eyewear” is specified by the product labeling, one of the following types of eyewear must be worn: goggles, face shield, safety glasses with front, brow and temple protection, or a full-face respirator. Some labels specify that a particular type of eye protection must be worn.
When a respirator is specified by the product labeling, it must be appropriate for the pesticide product used and for the activity to be performed. Use only respirators approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Before you can use a respirator, you must receive a medical evaluation by a physician or other licensed health care professional. An annual fit test is required for all tight-fitting respirators when required by the pesticide label.
Finally, before using a respirator you must receive training about the use, care and maintenance of the respirator.