March 8, 2022

Pesticides and PPE: What should I wear?

Why Should I wear PPE?

Pesticides vary widely in their chemical makeup. Which means that the toxicity, volatility, formulation, application type, and exposure type are all different depending on the pesticide. The recommended type of PPE depends directly on these factors.  

Pesticides can enter the body (exposure types) in three different ways:

  • By inhalation
  • By contact with skin or eyes
  • By ingestion.

PPE is designed to protect all of these points of exposure from a wide range of pesticides. And it is important to wear the right PPE for the job. In general terms, the more toxic the pesticide is the more PPE is needed to stay safe.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency talks about the effect pesticides have on human health. There are both immediate and long-term health effects. A couple examples of immediate health effects would be:

  • Stinging eyes
  • Rashes
  • Blisters
  • Blindness
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Death

Some long-term health effect examples are:

  • Cancers
  • Birth defects
  • Reproductive harm
  • Immunotoxicity
  • Neurological and developmental toxicity
Pesticides and PPE

General PPE

Gloves – Your hands and forearms get the most exposure when applicating the pesticide. “Chemical-resistant” insinuates a material that allows no measurable movement of the pesticide through the material during use. Gloves should be unlined and elbow length. Make sure that pesticides don’t run down your sleeves into your gloves.

Footwear – Chemical-resistant boots, shoes, or shoe coverings prevent shoes from becoming contaminated. To prevent pesticides from getting into your shoes, place you pants over them. Wearing socks is highly recommended.

Headgear – If the labeling specifies that you need to wear chemical-resistant headgear. It normally means a chemical-resistant hood or a chemical-resistant wide brimmed hat. Many hard hat designs are acceptable, but never wear things like a baseball cap.

Aprons – Should be made of chemical-resistant material as well and cover the front of your body from mid-chest to your knees. Aprons are normally only worn when you’re mixing or loading the pesticides.

Coveralls – dependent on the pesticide, it may have to be chemical-resistant and loose fitting. Should cover (at minimum) the entire body should be covered, with the exception of your head, hands, and feet.

Eyewear – Goggles, face shield, shielded safety glasses, or a full-face respirator are forms of protective eyewear when using pesticides.

Respirators – You should only use a respirator that is NIOSH approved.

For more information on health effects and pesticide protection you can visit our Hard Hat Training Series and take a look at our courses. Stay safe out there!