Protecting People From Pesticide Exposure

Dan Citrus, Education, Research

pesticide exposure

Editor’s note: This article grants one continuing education unit (CEU) in the Core category toward the renewal of a Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services restricted-use pesticide license when the accompanying test is submitted and approved.

The proper selection and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) can greatly reduce potential pesticide exposure. While proper selection and use of PPE can reduce pesticide exposure, it does not eliminate it.

All pesticide handlers, applicators, mixers/loaders and early-entry agricultural workers are legally required to completely follow PPE instructions on product labels. The label lists the minimum PPE required while handling a pesticide. It is always acceptable to wear more PPE than the label lists, but never less. This article will cover some different types of PPE and considerations for selection and usage.

Required PPE may vary depending on the specific task. In the example shown in Figure 1, both applicators and mixers/loaders are required to wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, waterproof gloves, shoes and socks. Mixers/loaders must additionally wear a respirator. When tank-mixing pesticides, you must use the PPE from the pesticide label that is most restrictive or protective.



Figure 1. This sample pesticide label requires different personal protective equipment for applicators and mixers/loaders.

The only way to determine the proper PPE needed to handle a pesticide is to read the pesticide label. For pesticide handlers, including applicators and mixers/loaders, the minimum PPE required can be found under the Precautionary Statements section of the label. For early-entry agricultural workers, minimum requirements can be found under the Agricultural Use Requirements as this activity falls under the Worker Protection Standard, 40 CRF Part 170.

The label also gives instructions for care of PPE or how to handle any clothing that may become contaminated with pesticide. Any clothing that might be exposed to pesticides should be laundered separately from 

Learn more about Protecting People From Pesticide Exposure on the Citrus Industry website.