Fred Whitford, Coordinator, Purdue Pesticide Programs
Janis Stone, Extension Textiles and Clothing Specialist, Iowa State University
Tracy MacMillan, Director of Marketing, North Safety Products
Edited by Arlene Blessing, Purdue Pesticide Programs
Evaluating Product Toxicity
Answering the following questions may help the user in evaluating the toxicity of a pesticide.
What hazards are associated with the formulation?
Certain risks are more common in some formulations than others. For instance, dusts are easily inhaled; emulsifiable concentrates are readily absorbed through the skin; and aerosols may irritate the eyes and pose inhalation problems. The formulation of a product dictates the safety precautions required, including use of PPE.
Is the product concentrated?
Pesticides in concentrated form pose a greater risk to the user than do ready-to-use (diluted) products for two reasons: 1) Any product in concentration is more toxic than a dilution of the same product; and 2) an additional step-mixing with water or other carriers-is required before application of a concentrate, thereby increasing the handler's potential for exposure resulting from splashes or spills. The mixing and loading of a concentrated pesticide generally require more PPE than does application of the diluted product.
What is the signal word on a pesticide product?
The relative toxicity of a pesticide is reflected on the label by signal words: danger (most toxic); warning (moderately toxic); caution (least toxic). Signal words also can reflect the toxicity of the product's nonlethal effects such as skin and eye irritation.
The most vulnerable route of entry determines the signal word. For example, if product XYZ is moderately toxic when absorbed through the skin, highly toxic if inhaled, and only slightly toxic if swallowed, its signal word would be danger based on inhalation studies. Two pesticides labeled with the same signal word may or may not require the same PPE because that distinction is based on the most vulnerable route of entry as determined during the testing process. A pesticide with the signal word caution usually will require less PPE than one carrying the signal word warning or danger. Labels of very toxic pesticides carry the signal word danger, accompanied by pre-cautionary statements mandating the use of additional PPE.
Is the product classified for restricted use or general use?
A pesticide product may be classified for restricted use based on its potential effects on human health, wildlife, or the environment. Labels of restricted-use products carry specific precautions to safeguard those entities. Generally, restricted-use pesticides are to be used only by individuals licensed through state pesticide applicator certification exams and licensing requirements, although in some states unlicensed applicators are authorized to use them under the direct supervision of a licensed applicator. A pesticide that is classified for restricted use due to human health concerns requires more PPE than an unclassified (general-use) product.
What are the acute effects of the pesticide?
There is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for every pesticide product. The MSDS provides details on the effects of acute (very short-term or one-time) exposure to the pesticide, as well as information on dermal and inhalation toxicity and eye irritation. It contains data on any birth defects, cancer, or reproductive impairments indicated in laboratory studies. The toxicological information summarized in an MSDS forms the basis for label requirements specifying certain protective clothing and equipment. MSDS's are prepared for all product formulations, but few manufacturers write MSDS's for end-use dilutions.
Have chronic effects been documented?
The MSDS provides information on possible adverse health effects linked to chronic exposure (multiple exposures, over time) to the product. Information on cancer, birth defects, and other potential chronic effects, if any, is included in the MSDS. While the short-term effects of a pesticide may be minimal, requiring only basic PPE, its cumulative, long-term effects may necessitate label language specifying more sophisticated equipment.
EVALUATING RISK POTENTIAL BASED ON APPLICATOR
A company's commitment to pesticide safety is a key factor in whether or not its use of a given product constitutes risk. Applicators who have PPE available and have been trained to use it properly can minimize exposure, thus protecting their health and that of their coworkers regardless of the product's toxicity. The following questions will assist in evaluating the potential for applicator exposure.
How many employees work for the firm?
The more pesticide applicators a firm has, the greater the chance that someone will neglect to follow safety precautions; thus, the greater the chance that an accident will occur.
How experienced are the employees?
Inexperienced employees-young or old, full- or part-time-may not recognize the importance of PPE; therefore they must be educated on its importance and trained to use it properly. Complacency must be addressed. Random inspection should be an ongoing activity to emphasize the importance of PPE and other safety considerations.
Are all employees trained adequately?
Realistically, part-time employees often are not given the safety training available to full-time workers, but this is not acceptable: It is the responsibility of the employer to train all employees, their hours on the job notwithstanding.
For what length of time does each applicator use pesticides?
Applicators whose primary duty year-round is applying pesticides obviously are more likely to be involved in a pesticide-related accident than are those who apply pesticides less often. In addition, those who apply pesticides over a long period of time become the subjects of chronic exposure, whereas those who apply chemicals infrequently are less likely to experience cumulative effects.
Answers to the preceding questions should render valuable insights into risks posed to workers who use pesticides. Employers who admit that safety has not been a high priority should consider immediate implementation of a program to protect the health and safety of their employees.
Just as important, high risk pesticides-those that are restricted for health reasons, those that are acutely toxic, and those linked to chronic concerns-should not be used until a safety education program is under way. One option is to select the least toxic pesticide that is effective against the target pest, thereby reducing risk potential.
Accidents happen! Be prepared and know what to do if a pesticide is spilled on the skin. Examples of Label Statements Pertaining to Gloves
Safety manufacturers design gloves to meet the specific needs of applicators handling hazardous chemicals; consideration is given to thickness, cuff length, fabrics and coatings, etc. For example, gloves advertised as Chemical-resistant, waterproof, and effective against dry formulations such as wettable powders, water-dispersible granules, microencapsulated granules, and dusts may be easily damaged in contact with solvents in some liquid formulations (e.g., emulsifiable concentrates).
GLOVE SELECTION TIPS
Taking the time to select the right kind of gloves is important: Make an informed decision.
Glove materials must resist the product's active ingredient and its solvents.
Glove descriptions may indicate the amount of time it takes for a chemical to move from the outside surface of the glove to its interior-generally referred to as breakthrough time. Gloves may provide hand protection for a few minutes as in the case of disposable, single-use gloves, or for hours in the case of gloves designed for repeated use. Reusable gloves should have a breakthrough time of at least 240 minutes (4 hours).
Gloves should be thick enough to afford protection during the total time required for completion of the task at hand.
Glove thickness is described in millimeters (1 mil = .001 inch) and the thicker the chemical-resistant glove, the more protection it will provide and the longer it will last under normal use conditions. Thick gloves generally offer more protection against chemical breakthrough but may restrict hand movement; select gloves that are at least 14 mil thick as a trade-off between thickness and manual dexterity.
Gloves should allow adequate grip so that applicators can safely carry out their jobs (e.g., change nozzles and screens).
Various glove surface textures-etched, raised, roughened-influence the wearer's ability to grip.
Gloves should be comfortable: The right fit makes the difference.
The appropriate glove size can be determined by measuring the circumference of the hand (palm and back); for example, a hand circumference of 8 inches indicates a size 8 glove. But some gloves are sold as small, medium, large, etc. A hand circumference of
Gloves must be long enough to adequately protect the hands and arms from chemical splashes
Glove length is measured from the tip of the middle finger to the farthest edge of the glove. Lengths of 10 to 12 inches provide hand and lower forearm protection; 13 to 14 inches, middle forearm protection; 18 inches, elbow protection; and 32 inches, protection to the shoulder.
Gloves must be unlined.
Cotton, leather, and canvas gloves, as well as gloves lined with these materials, should not be used with pesticides; nor should baby powder or talc be used to make gloves easier to put on and remove. The reasoning is that if the pesticide accidentally leaks inside the gloves, linings and absorbents would actually soak up the chemical and hold it against the skin, thereby increasing the degree of exposure.
Glove Use and Maintenance Tips
Eye protection is advisable when handling and applying all pesticides, and some product labels specify its necessity. Pesticides in contact with the eye can cause a wide range of symptoms, from slight irritation to blindness; and while no pesticide-to-eye contact should be considered minor, concentrates generally are more injurious than diluted products.
A pesticide label may require the use of specific types of eye protection, such as chemical-resistant goggles, or it may only suggest general protective eyewear. EPA defines protective eyewear as safety spectacles with side shields and brow guards; goggles; face shields; or full facepiece respirators.
Following are examples of pesticide label information addressing eye protection.
A pesticide label with the signal word caution may or may not require protective eyewear. Some manufacturers designate eye fprotection even for products that have not proven corrosive to the eye in laboratory studies; they believe that eye protection should be worn regardless of the data. In addition, pesticides labeled caution usually require protective eyewear if the pesticide has been linked to long-term effects such as cancer and birth defects. Typical caution statements are as follows:
Avoid contact with skin, eyes, or clothing. Causes moderate eye irritation. Wear eye protection. If pesticide gets into eyes, flush with plenty of water. Get medical attention if irritation persists.
Avoid contact with skin, eyes, or clothing. Causes temporary eye injury. If in eyes, flush with plenty of water. Get medical attention if irritation persists.
Pesticide users should be especially careful with a pesticide labeled "Corrosive material: causes irreversible eye damage." These pesticides are labeled with the signal word Danger, accompanied by a statement such as the following.
Do not get in eyes, on skin, or on clothing. Corrosive and causes irreversible eye damage. Applicators must wear protective eyewear. If in eyes, hold eyelids open and flush with a steady, gentle stream of water for 15 minutes. Get medical attention.
Selecting safety equipment for preventing eye exposure to pesticides requires an understanding of the potential sources of exposure as well as the kinds of eye protection available. Product formulation determines the probability of exposure: dusts escaping from bagged products; mists from air-blast or fogging sprays; accidental liquid splashes. There are three types of eye protection equipment (excluding the full facepiece respirator) designed to provide eye protection from airborne particles or chemical splashes: safety spectacles (glasses); goggles; and face shields.
Spectacles are the most basic equipment used to protect eyes from particles in the air; they're unlikely to fog and comfortable to wear. Safety spectacles generally are products, under minimal exposure conditions, and they should have scratch-resistant lenses for maximum visibility and durability. Versions with brow and side shields offer some protection from overhead and side impact, but most safety specialists do not recommend them for protection against chemical splashes because they do not provide full eye coverage. Selecting the correct size is essential to comfort and satisfactory use.
Goggles with polycarbonate lenses protect eyes from flying objects, but some fail to provide adequate protection against liquid pesticide splashes. For instance, those manufactured with perforations or air holes for increased air circulation are not considered splash resistant because liquids may leak through the small air holes. Goggles with indirect vents or no vents are considered splash resistant. Most goggles have adjustable straps to fasten them securely to the face, and some have fog-free lenses.
Face shields are intended as secondary means of eye protection and are designed to be worn over safety spectacles or goggles for full face protection. They should not be worn without safety spectacles or goggles.
Respirators are the most complicated of all personal protective equipment, and mastering their proper selection and use requires time and effort. For example, are you confident that your respirator is the right one for the job? How would you deal with an employee who has a beard? Do you perform a fit check each time you put on a respirator? Can dust masks be used for protection against organic vapors? Have you ever wondered why you could smell or taste the chemical even when wearing a respirator? The knowledge required to answer questions such as these can mean the difference between health and sickness...between life and death.
The statement "Avoid breathing dusts or spray mists" is found on most pesticide labels. Some provide more information, such as outcomes and corrective actions:
Pesticide manufacturers label more toxic products with specific respiratory protection statements when studies show that use of the product without a respirator may pose
Respiratory protection is intended to remove contaminants from the air you breath when handling pesticides. Labels are very clear in directing the user to respirators approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Following are examples of label directions:
Identification numbers for all respirators currently approved for pesticides are being replaced by the NIOSH prefix "TC- 84A " that signifies approval for particulates (dusts), mists, and organic vapors in combination with particulates. Pesticide manufacturers, over time, will change their labels to specify the TC- 84A ' s, but respirators approved for pesticides under the old regulation may continue being used as long as they still work.
Respirators are required when using some pesticide products, but many pesticide labels do not specify their use. Wise applicators, however, will elect to wear one when applying pesticides in enclosed areas such as greenhouses, crawl spaces, and grain bins-even when the label does not require it. Understanding each type of respirator's uses and limitations is the first step in selecting the right respirator for the job. Following are brief descriptions of the different types available.
Air Purifying Respirators
As a worker wearing an air purifying respirator inhales, ambient (outside) air passes through a charcoal cartridge or a filter as it is drawn into the facepiece; the cartridge or filter blocks contaminants, thereby purifying the air before it enters the lungs. Air purifying respirators are available with half or full face masks.
Read and follow the respirator manufacturer's instruction manual prior to using the respirator.
Air purifying respirators do not supply fresh air; they merely filter the available air. They cannot be used where the oxygen level is below 19.5 percent, nor in atmospheres that are immediately dangerous to life or health (e.g., fumigation in an enclosed area).
The wearer, when working in dangerous atmospheres will obtain better protection from a supplied air respirator.
Half Mask Respirators
Most pesticide applicators prefer half mask respirators, and there are two common types. One relies on filters (paper/fiber) to trap dusts, mists, and other particles; and the second type has cartridges. In the latter, air is moved through activated charcoal which chemically extracts much of the gas or vapor contaminant. Combination cartridges with prefilters, which remove dusts and other particulates, also are available.
The filtering facepiece respirator, more commonly referred to as the dust/mist respirator, removes dust, pollen, particles, spray mists, and some nuisance odors as air passes through the fabric of the mask.
The pesticide applicator's comfort, utility, and performance can be improved by using filtering respirators made with some of the following features:
Workers who elect to wear a respirator in situations where it is not required by the pesticide label should choose an appropriate NIOSH-approved respirator over a general purpose dust mask. Some filtering respirators do not meet NIOSH standards and therefore should not be used when pesticide labels require NIOSH-approved respirators.
Full Face Respirators
Full face respirators work in the same manner and use the same cartridges and/or prefilters as half mask respirators, and they offer two advantages: They protect the face and eyes against airborne particles and splashes; and they offer a higher level of respiratory protection.
Powered Air Purifying Respirator
Most half mask and full face respirators require the user to physically draw in air. Powered air purifying respirators are equipped with a battery operated blower that forces air into the mask to assist breathing. The forced air cools the atmosphere in the mask and reduces stress on the heart and lungs. Powered air purifying respirators with hoods or helmets may be worn by people with beards.
Supplied Air Respirators
Supplied air respirators are highly specialized for use in atmospheres that are more toxic than those where air purifying respirators are permitted. When equipped with a self-contained emergency air supply, they can be used in atmospheres that are hazardous or where the oxygen level is below 19.5 percent. The air supply is provided through a hose hooked to a stationary cylinder of compressed air or from a portable air pump. Supplied air respirators are more expensive than air purifying respirators and require continual maintenance; and applicators must be specially trained to use them.
Determine what form of contaminant poses the risk.
There are two forms of chemical contaminants: particulates (dust, mist, and smoke) and vapors (including gases). Therefore, before selecting a respirator for protection against a specific product, consult the product label to determine what physical form poses the risk.
Verify what model of respirator will remove the contaminant in question.
Respirators approved by NIOSH have an attached label bearing an approval number with the prefix " TC. " The product label prescribes a specific respirator by NIOSH approval number. For example, TC - 23C respirators are approved for use when contaminates such as organic vapors, acid gas, or ammonia might pose a risk, but all particulate filters now being made are approved with the new designation TC - 84A. Although it will be some time before manufacturers begin specifying this new class on pesticide labels, prudent applicators who purchase respirators in the meantime should proceed in selecting a TC - 84A model.
Safety equipment catalogs usually list the NIOSH approval number as part of the respirator description. If ordering from a catalog that does not, look for "organic vapor" cartridges and filters. If it is still unclear which to choose, call the toll-free number listed in the catalog and ask to speak to a safety specialist; or call the respirator manufacturer directly. All respirator manufacturers use the same color-coding system in designating cartridges for use in specific applications.
Decide whether or not to purchase a disposable respirator.
Disposable respirators initially cost less, but consider how often the respirator will need to be replaced. Compare the replacement cost times the estimated number of times replacement would be necessary within a given time period versus the cost of a reusable respirator and its replaceable cartridges and filters over the same time period.
Fit test every wearer, every time.
A qualitative or quantitative fit test must be performed as required by OSHA to determine correct facepiece size (small, medium, or large) There are several fit test protocols and fit testing can be performed by the employer, a trained worker, or a safety professional. OSHA mandates that a fit check be performed every time a person puts on a respirator. Instructions on conducting fit checks generally accompany half mask and full face respirators. The procedure takes only a few seconds and must be exercised by the trained worker according to the following steps:
Put on the respirator and tighten all straps. For a positive pressure fit check, cover the exhalation valve (the single opening near the chin area of the respirator) with the palm of the hand and exhale (blow) into the mask for five to ten seconds. This causes pressure within the mask to increase, causing a slight bulging of the facepiece if fitted properly; if there is a leak, you will feel it.
For a negative pressure fit check, block the filter inlets (some models have one inlet; others have two) with the palms of the hand and inhale for five to ten seconds, causing a slight collapse of the facepiece.
A good seal is indicated when the facepiece remains slightly bulging (positive pressure) or slightly collapsed (negative pressure) during the fit check. An unsatisfactory seal indicates that air is moving through openings between the respirator and the face, requiring that a second positive and negative pressure fit check be performed. A different size or brand of respirator may be needed.
Remember: There is no such thing as a respirator working "well enough." A respirator with a leaking facepiece-even a small leak- is not protecting the wearer.
Written Respirator Program for OSHA 1910.134
The document which appears on pages 20-21 of this publication is intended to simulate an actual written respirator program. Use it as a guide for writing your own.
The purpose of this document is to outline the procedures which employees are required to follow when using a respirator.
The primary objective is to prevent exposure to airborne contaminants through good management practices. The use of appropriate respiratory protection equipment will be enforced as required by pesticide labels or specific workplace conditions. Responsibility
Program Maintenance and Effectiveness
Regular evaluation of the program-and adjustments to policy, as necessary-shall ensure its continued effectiveness. Routine, in-house inspections shall be conducted to ensure compliance.
Copies of this respiratory program are available in the main office and as a separate section to the company's OSHA Hazard Communication Standard plan.
Wearing the clothing and personal protective equipment specified on a pesticide label is important to prevent or minimize exposure. PPE protects the body against splashes that may occur while pouring concentrates from a container, as well as spray mists that may drift onto to the applicator under certain conditions.
Even under minimum exposure conditions, the selection of clothing should be given careful thought. A long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes, and socks are essential. Layers of clothing help reduce exposure by impeding the penetration of the pesticide.
Additional protective clothing sometimes is required to supplement the protection offered by ordinary work clothes. For example, a product label may require that cotton coveralls be worn over work pants. Chemical-resistant boots and an apron may be required clothing for mixing some pesticides. Proper clothing, when used with other safety measures, will reduce the likelihood that an applicator will be accidentally exposed.
Protecting the skin on the arms and legs is an important way to reduce pesticide exposure. Arms may become contaminated during mixing and loading operations if gloves are too short. Lower pant legs may become contaminated during lawn care applications.
Sleeve guards are designed for protection of the arms when wearing a long-sleeved shirt. Guards cover the arm from the wrist to above the elbow and have elastic in both ends to hold them close and block pesticide from the openings. Chaps are designed to cover the legs; they fasten to the belt at the waist and are held to the ankle with elastic. Chaps provide additional protection during turf and nursery applications where the lower leg is most vulnerable to exposure. Long, protective pants are also available.
Sleeve guards, chaps, and protective pants are available in several materials. Some are disposable; others are reusable. If reusable, they should be cleaned thoroughly after each use.
Some labels may only direct applicators to wear shoes plus socks. Others may specify chemical-resistant footwear, plus socks. There are many types of chemical-resistant footwear designed to be worn over socks; others are to be worn over ordinary shoes. Rubber and neoprene are commonly used in making chemical-resistant footwear. Leather and canvas are not recommended for footwear because they can absorb pesticides and trap them next to the skin; and they are not considered chemical-resistant.
The structure and design of footwear also are important. For example, steel toes protect the feet, and anti-skid soles and tread help prevent falls. Tall boots provide leg protection; and disposable booties can be worn over shoes for short-term, minimal protection from exposure, primarily in dry conditions.
Pant legs should hang over the outside of footwear so that pesticides cannot be funneled down the pant leg into the shoes or boots. Footwear should be washed in soapy water after each day's use. As with all PPE, footwear worn during a pesticide application should not be worn indoors; and if it becomes damaged or is leaking, it must be discarded.
Spraying upward into trees, using an air blaster in an orchard, or using a hand-held sprayer in greenhouses may expose the head, shoulders, and back to pesticides. Labels direct applicators spraying overhead in any situation to wear chemical-resistant headgear.
Well designed headgear provides protection for the scalp, neck, and ears and can help prevent pesticides from reaching the body through neckline openings in clothing. Headgear can take many forms and may be either stiff and impact resistant or soft enough to tie around the face like a hood; it may be a hat with a broad brim or a full hood that drapes to cover the shoulders. Some hoods are attached to coveralls or jackets, and some can be purchased separately. Disposable hoods are available in a number of waterproof and chemical-resistant materials.
Pesticide users can decrease the likelihood of frontal exposure by wearing chemical-resistant aprons. The product label may state that a chemical-resistant apron is to be worn when mixing, loading, or cleaning equipment. Pesticides bearing the signal word DANGER and products with chronic toxicity potential may require an apron in addition to other protective clothing to protect against spills. Chemical-resistant aprons are available in materials such as butyl, neoprene, and nitrile. Aprons backed with cotton or other materials are resistant to tearing; but backing materials can absorb pesticides, making cleanup difficult or impossible.
Although aprons offer protection against pesticide exposure, many workers do not wear them. In some cases, aprons can lead to accidents when the user must climb ladders or work around machinery. Seek the advice of workers who will be expected to wear aprons, and use their input in selecting the best apron for the job, or perhaps an alternative such as coveralls.
Labels may specify the use of coveralls to provide an extra layer of protection against pesticides penetrating to the skin. They are available in reusable, limited-use, and disposable styles.
Washable, reusable cotton or cotton blend coveralls are acceptable when using low toxicity pesticides (those labeled CAUTION). However, because trace amounts of pesticides cannot be removed from cotton fabrics, annual or more frequent replacement is suggested. Cotton coveralls should never be used when handling liquid pesticide concentrate; anytime a concentrate comes into contact with clothing that is not chemical-resistant, the garments must be properly discarded.
Reusable coveralls or two-piece rain or splash suits designed to wear over regular work clothes can be purchased with coatings of PVC, rubber, neoprene, nitrile, or polyurethane over a durable cotton, nylon-scrim, or polyester backing. They differ in chemical resistance and may be washable. Manufacturers' labels can guide the selection process and should explain care recommendations, although insufficient research has been conducted on the effectiveness of specific care methods in removing pesticide contamination.
Limited-use or disposable coveralls generally are designed to be worn for one workday, then discarded in the trash. There are many limited-use coveralls available. Some limited-use coveralls are coated to withstand repeated wear; but, nevertheless, they should be discarded after eight hours' total wear (all in one day or cumulatively over multiple days). Limited-use, nonwoven coveralls must be discarded once they are contaminated or damaged. Some types disintegrate upon washing; others may not. Never wash disposable, nonwoven coveralls since laundering tends to reduce their repellency and could move contaminates to the inside of the garment.
Limited-use protective coverall fabrics differ in breathability, weight, thickness, flexibility, strength, durability, abrasion resistance, and chemical resistance. Consult pesticide product labels and safety supply catalogs in selecting the right coveralls for a given set of circumstances; or contact safety specialists referenced in safety equipment catalogs. University PPE experts and Cooperative Extension Service specialists also can lend advice, upon request.
Tyvek coveralls are probably the most familiar disposable brand because they are widely available and inexpensive. Three types are available for different situations:
Often, the same brand name is used for materials of differing chemical resistance, ranging from what is needed for dry particulate or minor splash situations to that required for more severe exposures. Regular Tyvek, Comfort-Gard, Kappler CPF - I, and Kleenguard offer breathable fabrics that resist water and small particles, but they are not recommended for chemical protection. Trade names such as Tychem, Kappler CFP (II, III and IV), and Responder describe suits designed for chemical protection, hazardous chemical splash, and hazardous material cleanup.
Coveralls for pesticide application should be selected to provide appropriate chemical resistance against the pesticide and its formulation. Applicators should also be aware of other safety considerations. Coveralls should fit well. A snug fit at the neck will prevent pesticides from filtering down the back and chest. Coveralls also should have adequate torso length to allow ease of movement. However, they should not be so loose or baggy that they are susceptible to entanglement in moving parts of machinery. Coverall materials are very strong and do not tear easily if caught in machinery. Entanglement of clothing can lead to traumatic injury, unrelated to pesticides. Coveralls may have attached hoods or separate head protection.
If disposable coveralls are too long in the sleeves or pant legs, they can be cut off because the fabrics do not ravel. If woven fabric coveralls are shortened, they will need hemming to prevent raveling of strong yarns that can be an entanglement hazard.
EPA ' s pesticide registration process takes into consideration a product ' s label information on the use of personal protective equipment. Pesticide applicators must rely on label information to know what PPE to use when handling a given product. Wearing inappropriate PPE, or failure to wear any at all, can lead to overexposure. Physical illness from overexposure can mean absence from work, sometimes triggering loss of income. It can mean mounting medical expenses, and stress. Physical illness from overexposure can result in pain and suffering - sometimes even death.
If PPE label instructions are ignored and routine overexposure does occur, lawsuits and penalties may follow. If failure to comply with label directions is proven, regulatory action against the applicator and/or the affiliated company may result.
Protective clothing and equipment statements are located on the label (or labeling) of a pesticide product under Hazards to Humans and Domestic Animals or as " Agricultural Use Requirements " under Directions for Use. The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) requires that labels of pesticides used on farms or in forests, nurseries, or greenhouses list the types of PPE the user must employ. It is important to realize that PPE required by a pesticide label represents minimum protection; the applicator may elect to use more protective clothing or equipment than is stipulated on the label.
EPA requires that all pesticide labels bear the following statement under the heading Directions for Use: " It is a violation of federal law to use this pesticide in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. " Legally, the statement places the responsibility for using the product according to label directions directly on the buyer and user. The intent is to communicate to users-homeowners, farmers, commercial applicators - that they are personally responsible for judicious use of the pesticide.
Labels refer to chemical resistance categories (A through H) for personal protective equipment. Items in these categories are made of materials that the pesticide cannot pass through during the times indicated below the chart. The categories are based on the solvents used in the pesticides, not the pesticides themselves. Therefore, there will be instances where the same pesticide in two different formulations (e.g., wettable powder and emulsifiable concentrate) will require PPE from two different chemical resistance categories. The following is an example of label information referring a user to the EPA Chemical Resistance Category Chart:
The chemical resistance selection category for this product is H. For more information about PPE materials that are resistant to this product for various lengths of time, consult an EPA chemical resistance category chart.
The EPA chemical resistance category chart on page 28 shows that pesticide products in the H category require barrier laminate or Viton(R) materials for a full day's exposure, whereas butyl, nitrile, and rubber offer protection for 10 minutes of contact with the chemical. No other materials offer chemical resistance to, nor protect against, category H chemicals.
|Category Listed on Pesticide Label||Barrier Laminate||Neoprene (Rubber* )||Butyl (Rubber* )||Nitrile (Rubber* )||Natural (Rubber* )||Polyethylene||Polyvinyl Chloride*||Viton(R)*|
High: Highly chemical resistant. Clean or replace PPE at end of each day's work period. Rinse off pesticides at rest breaks.
Moderate: Moderately chemical resistant. Clean or replace PPE within an hour or two of contact.
Slight: Slightly chemical resistant. Clean or replace PPE within ten minutes of contact.
None: No chemical resitance. Do not wear this type of material as PPE when contact is possible.
*Recommendation based on PPE at least 14 mil or greater in thickness.
Listed below (in bold) are examples of wording found on pesticide labels relative to personal protective equipment required when handling the product; below each example are EPA interpretations of those label statements. When confused as to what a pesticide label means, consult these guidelines. In most cases, the first line of a label statement addressing personal protective equipment indicates what is required for minimum protection; use of additional or more sophisticated equipment, for added protection, is left to the discretion of the user.
All clothing worn while handling pesticides should be considered contaminated, whether or not it is obvious. Work clothing worn while mixing, loading, or applying pesticides (even that worn during granular applications) must be stored and washed separately from the rest of the laundry; and it is the responsibility of the user, be it employer or applicator, to ensure that it is. Further, it is the responsibility of the supervisor to inform the person in charge of the laundry, whether it is done by a commercial laundry service or in the home, that work clothes are contaminated.
Labels seldom explain how to launder pesticide-contaminated clothing. At best, a label might instruct the user as follows-and all of it is good advice: Discard clothing that has been drenched or heavily contaminated with product concentrate. Do not reuse it. Follow manu-facturer's instructions for cleaning PPE. If no such instructions for washables, use detergent and hot water. Keep and wash PPE separate from other laundry.
Success in washing pesticide residues from common work fabrics hinges on the pesticide and its formulation, the fabric thickness and fiber content, the laundering method, and the length of time between contamination and laundering. The longer the wait, the less is removed. Follow these safety tips when washing work clothes worn while using pesticides.
Personal protective equipment is your responsibility. Whether your business is farming, custom application, nursery management, greenhouse cultivation, pest control, or home gardening- and whether you have no employees or 100-if you use pesticides, you need to learn all you can about PPE. Every day, new types of PPE become available. Choosing among the many alternatives is serious business because PPE is effective only when it is carefully selected, properly fitted, routinely used, and fastidiously maintained. It may not provide protection if any of these points is missed.
This publication outlines responsibilities pertinent to selecting, using, and maintaining PPE, but it is only a starting point; there is more to learn. Experience will generate a better understanding, and safety supply catalogs and other reading materials will enhance the user's knowledge of PPE. Communicate regularly with resource people and educators who specialize in industrial hygiene, safety, textiles, and pesticide applicator training.
All complementary illustrations are by the artist Stephen Adduci; his work is sincerely appreciated. The authors are grateful to all of the reviewers whose comments were very beneficial in improving the quality and accuracy of this publication. We extend our thanks in acknowledgment of their work:
Viton(R) is a registered trademark of DuPont Dow Elastomers.
The information given herein is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service is implied.
It is the policy of the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, David C. Petritz, Director, that all persons shall have equal opportunity and access to the programs and facilities without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, or disability. Purdue University is an Affirmative Action employer.