Personal Protective Equipment

Maggie Scarbrough

When you apply pesticides, it is your responsibility to protect yourself, others, and the environment as well as apply the pesticide correctly.


Remember, it is the law to wear equipment consistent with what is recommended on the label. Survey the situation to decide if you need more than what is recommended.


For hand-held applicators like shake cans, there is a chance of direct exposure through dripping or clogged nozzles or unfastened caps. Protect the area of your body in contact with the equipment.


When carrying equipment on the front of your body, use an apron. If the equipment goes on your back, consider a cape. If you carry only the nozzle, use something to cover your arms and hands. Each of these pieces of protective equipment can protect you from leaking or drippy equipment.


Any time it is possible, do not walk or drive into a treated area. You should always back into an area, away from where the pesticide is released. If you are unable to, wear protective footgear, like shin or knee-high boots as well as chemical-resistant pants. It is also helpful to cover your clothing with a spray starch or fabric stain remover to provide an extra barrier. This will also make cleanup easier.


In a vehicle, be sure you are in front of and above the area where the pesticide is released. If you have to enter the area where it is still suspended in the air, consider a rain suit or apron as well as respirator and goggles.


At certain times you can be exposed to pesticide fallout. During these circumstances, it is possible to be completely drenched and engulfed. This will result in large amounts of residue on skin and clothing and will pose a serious hazard. This can happen when you are doing a mist blower or air blast application, applications with high-pressure sprayers and power dusters, aerosol and fog applications, applications to trees, roof eaves and canopies, and aerial applications. For these situations, wear more protective gear than is recommended. Chemical-resistant suits with hoods, gloves, footwear and full-face respirators are essential to fully protect you during these high-exposure scenarios.


Some situations may require the use of a respirator when you would not normally wear one. If you are performing an application in enclosed spaces like truck cargo areas, elevators, and grain storage units and so forth, a respirator may be your only protection against inhalation injury.


Other application situations require specific care for your protection:


  • If it is necessary to adjust your equipment during application, consider extra protective gear.
  • When using application techniques that require hand and arm submersion into liquids or dusts, wear a sleeved apron as well as protective footwear and a facemask.
  • If you are applying into a wind current, be sure to use extra protective equipment, including eyewear and a respirator.
  • While mixing, loading and applying ultra-low-volume concentrates and fumigant formulations, wear extra gear, as the active ingredients are high and toxic.