Protective Clothing
  for Pesticide Users
          Extension Service
          University of
          National Agricultural


ent of Agriculture
         Environmental Protection Agency

Clothing  for
   Pesticides can be beneficial tools.
   They help control pests  such as
weeds, insects, and plant diseases 
which transmit disease, destroy crops,
or cause damage to property. They
allow high-quality food and fiber crops
to be grown at a lower cost to
consumers. Like many other chemicals,
though, pesticides can be hazardous if
not used safely.
  Most pesticide accidents happen
when users are careless or when they do
not know how to handle pesticides
safely. The time you spend to learn
about the safe use of pesticides is an
investment in the health and safety of
yourself, your family, and others.
  This guide deals mainly with
pesticides  which are highly to
moderately toxic when they enter the
body through the mouth, lungs, skin, or
eyes. You can recognize these pesticides
by the "signal words" DANGER or
WARNING on their labels.
  In this guide, you can learn about:
 the potential hazards of pesticides,
 the kinds of clothing and equipment
you should wear to protect yourself.
  It also will tell you:
 how the type of pesticide formulation
affects your chances for exposure, and
 how to clean, maintain, and store
your personal protective equipment.

Know the

To use any pesticide safely, you must
know the hazards involved and how to
protect yourself. Remember this basic
rule: By lowering your exposure to the
pesticide, you can Jower the risk to your
safety and health.
  Read the label CAREFULLY. One
section of the label will tell you of any
fire, explosion,  or chemical hazards of
the product. Knowledge that the
chemical is highly flammable or
corrosive will allow you to avoid these
  The label also tells about the toxicity
of the product. The level of toxicity is a
measure of how poisonous a chemical
substance is to humans.
  Pesticides can enter the body in three
 through the mouth (orally),
 through the skin and eyes  (dermally),
 through the lungs (by inhalation).
  First, you need to know how toxic the
product is. Look at the "signal word"
find out.
  Next, you must find out how the
pesticide can enter your body. Look
under the boldface heading "Hazards to
Humans". The statements in  this section
indicate which part or parts of the body
should be protected from exposure to
the pesticide. For example: "Fatal if
swallowed or absorbed through the skin.
Do not get on skin."
                                                                          Use Personal
                                                                          Protective Equipment

                                                                          Simply understanding the hazard of the
                                                                          pesticide you are using is not enough.
                                                                          To keep yourself safe, you also must be
                                                                          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
                                                                            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  are
                                                                          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
  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:

 Mechanical filter respirators provide
protection only against dusts.

 Chemical cartridge or canister
respirators provide protection only
against gases  and vapors.
  In addition, you can get a
combination respirator which will
protect you against both dusts and
Know How
To  Care for Your

Protective  Equipment

Your protective clothing and equipment
can become contaminated:

 during normal handling and
application of concentrated or dilute
pesticides, or

 because of an accident.

  Unless you remove the contaminated
items promptly, they can cause you to
absorb pesticides through your skin.
Have clean protective clothing and
equipment on hand at all times to
replace contaminated clothing.
  To keep your protective clothing and
equipment working well, clean it
thoroughly. Never allow children or
pets  to come into contact with
contaminated clothing or equipment.
Here are some general guidelines for

Respirators  Discard cartridges,
canisters, and filter pads when
breathing becomes difficult, when you
notice a pesticide odor, or at the time
interval specified by the manufacturer.
Write the date on the cartridge when it
is first used. Wash the face piece in
detergent and water, rinse it thoroughly,
and  dry it in a well-ventilated area.
Never use alcohol or other solvents for
cleaning  they will damage  rubber and
Rubber, vinyl, or plastic boots and
gloves  To avoid getting pesticide on
your hands, wash the outside of boots
and  gloves with detergent and water
before removing them. After you take
them off, wash them inside and out
with detergent and water, rinse
thoroughly, and dry in a well-ventilated
Chemical-resistant clothing, goggles,
and  face masks  Wash plastic or
rubber clothing and equipment with
detergent and water, rinse thoroughly,
and  dry in a well-ventilated area.

Fabric clothing  If fabric clothing is
saturated with a concentrated highly
toxic pesticide,  it must be discarded.
Remove the clothing carefully and
immediately place  it in a plastic trash
bag.  Close the bag tightly and dispose of
it along with your empty pesticide
containers.  Wear rubber, vinyl, or
plastic gloves when handling  severely
contaminated clothing.
  Launder normally contaminated
clothes at the end of the work day,
following these guidelines:

 Wash contaminated clothing
separately from the family clothing.

 Prerinse clothing outdoors by
spraying or hosing it; or presoak it  in a
suitable container such as a large bucket
or tub; or use the prewash cycle of an
automatic washer, with detergent.

 Wash clothes using hot water, the
highest water level, and a regular or
super wash cycle. Use heavy-duty
detergents; for EC and other oil-based
formulations, use a heavy-duty liquid
detergent. Wash only a few
contaminated garments at a time.
 Wash contaminated garments at least
twice; then thoroughly rinse the washer
by running through another entire cycle
using detergent.

 Line dry to avoid a buildup of
pesticide residues in the dryer.

Washup During  Use
Wash hands and face before
eating, drinking, toileting, or
using tobacco.

Avoid touching face or other
bare skin with  contaminated
gloves or clothing.
Washup After Use
 Immediately remove
 clothing and take a
 shower in case of

 Shower at the end of
 the day before
 changing into clean

 Wash body and hair
 thoroughly with soap
 and water.
Signal Words
If the pesticide is highly toxic
orally, dermally, or through
inhalation, the signal word
"DANGER" in large boldface
letters will be on the front of
the pesticide label. If the
pesticide is moderately toxic
orally, dermally, or through
inhalation, the signal word
"WARNING" will be used.
The labels of slightly toxic
pesticides will bear the signal
word "CAUTION".

              Generally low exposure
              No wetting spray
              Little dust
Wettable Powders
All routes of exposure
can be high during
mixing due to high
percentage of active
             Exposure can be high
             through inhalation and
             dermal contact
              Dermal exposure to
              mixer/loader and
              applicator may be high
             Exposure dermally may
             be high during
             Absorption is enhanced
             by solvents which easily
             penetrate the skin.
  Any formulation applied as a spray
  may cause a dermal exposure.
Hazards to  Humans


Look on the pesticide label under the
boldface heading "Hazards to Humans."
The statements in this section indicate
which part or parts of the body should
be protected.

"May be fatal
if absorbed
through skin.
Do not get in
eyes, on skin,
or on
                                           "May be fatal if
                                           inhaled. Do not
                                           breathe dust, vapor,
                                           or  spray mist."
                                               "Corrosive: causes
                                               irreversible  eye
                                                   "Causes skin

                                                   "Causes burns.
                                                   Do not get on
                                                   skin or on

Handling  Concentrates
This is the minimum
protective clothing and
equipment you should
wear while mixing and
loading pesticides which
are moderately to highly
Protective suit (such as
fabric coveralls) worn
over normal work
Chemical-resistant apron
Chemical-resistant gloves
such as rubber, vinyl,
or plastic
(Never use fabric, leather
or paper gloves)
 Chemical-resistant boots
 or footwear
 (Never wear leather or
 canvas footwear)
Face shield or goggles

Respirator (If the label
requires it)

Dilute  Pesticides
You need to decide! Read the label. The formulation, signal word, precautionary
statements, personal protective equipment statements, the application method, and
the projected length of exposure indicate the personal protective equipment you
Minimum Exposure
(Such as granular
applications and many
other routine pesticide
Protective suit (such as
fabric coveralls) worn
over normal work
Chemical-resistant gloves
such as rubber, vinyl,
or plastic
(Never use fabric, leather,
or paper gloves)
Socks and shoes or boots
Maximum Exposure

(Such as direct contact
with drenching spray,
mist blower or knapsack
applications, or handling
very highly toxic

Chemical-resistant hood
or hat

Goggles or face shield

Respirator (If the label
requires it or if dusts,
mists, fogs, or vapors will
be generated)

protective suit worn
over normal work clothes

(A chemical-resistant
protective suit may cause
heat stress under some

Chemical-resistant gloves
such as rubber, vinyl,
or plastic
(Never  use fabric, leather,
or paper gloves)
Chemical-resistant boots
or footwear
(Never wear leather or
canvas footwear)