Ohio State University Extension Bulletin

Protective Clothing for Pesticide Users

Bulletin 750

Use Personal Protective Equipment

Simply understanding the hazard of the pesticide you are using is not enough. To keep yourself safe, you also must sure to properly use all the recommended protective equipment.

Pesticide absorption through the skin is the most common cause of poisoning during mixing, loading, application, and equipment maintenance. You can keep skin exposure to a minimum by wearing -over your normal work clothes - a long-sleeved protective suit, such as coveralls. It should cover your entire body except feet, hands, and head. If there is a chance that the coveralls may become wet from mist, spray, splashes, or spills, use a rubber apron or other outer garment that is resistant to chemicals.

Natural or synthetic rubber, vinyl, or plastic gloves are a very important way to keep pesticides away from your skin. Wearing gloves should be a standard practice when handling pesticides. Replace protective gloves often, even though they may not seem worn or contaminated. Never use leather, paper, or fabric gloves when working with pesticides. These materials easily absorb and hold liquids and dusts, and can become a serious source of exposure. Disposable gloves are appropriate if they' can resist chemical penetration and a: sturdy enough to resist puncturing or tearing during the period of use.

Wear chemical-resistant boots or footwear during most mixing, loading, and application jobs. Never wear leather or canvas shoes.

It is also important to protect your eyes from pesticides. Use a face shield or goggles when you are using pressurized equipment or liquid concentrates; where there is a chance for mists, dusts, or splashes; and when the label tells you to prevent eye exposure.

Breathing the pesticide into your lungs (inhalation exposure) may be a problem where dusts, fine spray mists, smoke, fog, or vapors are generated. Since an inhaled pesticide is rapidly and almost completely absorbed by the body, you must protect yourself from this kind of exposure.

You should consider wearing a respirator during mixing and loading or during long periods of exposure to highly toxic pesticides which create fine dusts or mists. Sometimes the label lists a specific type of respirator to use. Often, however, the label merely requires a respirator approved for pesticide use by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health NIOSH) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). To choose the right respirator, you must seek advice from your county Extension agent, pesticide dealer, or other experts.

The two most common types of air- purifying respirators are 1) mechanical filter respirators and 2) chemical cartridges or canisters. You should understand the differences between them:

In addition, you can get a combination respirator which will protect you against both dusts and gases.

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