protective clothing when applying pesticides to reduce your
risk of pesticide poisoning. Pesticides enter the body most
frequently through the skin. Other ways are through the eyes,
nose or mouth.
risk depends on both exposure to and the toxicity of the pesticides.
Many pesticide product labels give information on protective
clothing along with the application and handling procedures.
The signal words on the label can help you to determine the
type of clothing to wear and what to do if there is an accident
or spill. The three signal words are:
- highly hazardous
- moderately hazardous
- slightly hazardous
like "harmful if inhaled" or "fatal if inhaled"
mean that you need to wear a respirator. Product formulation
also matters. In general, of oil-based liquids (emulsifiable
concentrates) absorb easily through the skin, so you need
to protect your skin. Dusts, wettable powders and broken particles
from granules are inhaled easily, so you may need a respirator.
work clothing made of heavy weight, tightly woven fabrics gives
you some protection. Specialized liquid-proof, chemical-resistant
clothing gives you much more, but you may not feel as comfortable.
In North Carolina's climate it is difficult to be comfortable
when you need the greatest protection. In general, you should
work clothing with long pants and sleeves. (Clothing with
a soil-repellent finish can increase your protection).
unlined, liquid-proof, chemical-resistant gloves; unlined
neoprene or rubber boots; and a widebrimmed hat.
a chemical-resistant apron over cloth coveralls when mixing,
loading or handling undiluted pesticides.
a liquid-proof, chemical-resistant coverall or suit with
a hood or a waterproof, wide-brimmed hat if there is any
chance of becoming wet with spray.
a respirator whenever there is a risk of inhaling pesticide
vapors, fumes or dust.
an eye or face shield if the pesticide may splash.
up to get the most protection from regular work clothes. Wear
long pants and long sleeves. Button your shirt at the neck and
the wrist. Layer clothing for better protection. Protect your
feet with work shoes or boots and socks. Remember, some jobs
involving pesticides need more protection than regular work
clothes can offer.
keep clothing worn when applying pesticides separate from
the rest of the wash. When applying pesticides, wash pesticide-soiled
clothing daily. Wash separately from the family wash, using
hot water and a heavy-duty detergent. Pre-rinsing or presoaking
also may help. Laundering Pesticide-soiled Clothing,
gives more laundering recommendations.
protect your hands whenever you handle pesticides, including
unopened or empty pesticide containers and pesticide-contaminated
equipment, clothing and materials. Unlined, clean gloves at
least 12 inches long with sealed seams are necessary when handling
undiluted or highly toxic pesticides. Nitrite, neoprene and
butyl rubber are good choices. Use strong rubber latex gloves
when working with diluted, less toxic pesticides. If you tear
a glove, replace it. Do not wear cotton or leather gloves; they
can absorb significant amounts of pesticide and cannot be cleaned
are working with your arms down, wear your sleeves outside
of your gloves to prevent pesticides from naming down sleeve
to the inside of the gloves. When working with your arms raised,
cuff the gloves and wear them over your sleeves to catch drips.
Use duct tape or elastic bands to seal the gloves at the sleeve
if you are going to be raising and lowering your arms. To
keep pesticides off your hands, wash the outside surface of
gloves before you take them off. Then wash the inside of the
Rainsuits, and Other Specialized Protective Clothing)
chemical-resistant clothing when mixing, loading or handling
undiluted and toxic pesticides. A few pesticide labels specify
that a chemical-resistant protective suit is required when
applying the pesticide.
resistant" means that there will be no measurable movement
of the pesticide through the material during the period of
protection offered by chemical-resistant clothing depends
upon the fabric and design features, such as flaps over zippers
and bound or sealed seams. Such garments often are elasticized
at the wrist and ankle. A butyl rubber, neoprene, or Tyvek
apron over work coveralls, a PVC rainsuit, or one of the newer
chemical-resistant coveralls is appropriate. You will be safest
and most comfortable in protective clothing that fits.
is a disposable chemically resistant protective clothing fabric.
The non-woven olefin fabric is worn over regular work clothing.
Tyvek comes uncoated or as a laminate (polyethylene [PE] -coated
or Saranex 23P). Uncoated Tyvek is about as effective as soil-repellent
finished cotton or cotton/polyester blends. The laminates
of Tyvek, especially Saranex-23P, are suitable for handling
undiluted and highly toxic pesticides.
use PE Tyvek if there will be extended exposure to liquid
organophosphates, because the emulsifier may damage the PE
coating. Organophosphates include malathion, acephate (Orthene),
terbufos, diazinon, fonofos and diamethoate.
at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro has shown
that protective clothing with a soil-resistant Mesh can provide
both comfort and safety. Such garments may be made of nonwoven
fabrics containing wood pulp (Sontara is an example) or olefin
(SMS for example) fibers.
feet and shoes also need protection from pesticide spills. Put
your pant legs over your boots. Unlined neoprene or butyl rubber
boots, or Tyvek shoe or boot covers should be worn Wear clean
socks daffy. Leather and canvas shoes, including tennis shoes,
cannot be cleaned thoroughly and should never be worn without
rubber or neoprene boots. Always clean the outside of boots
before removing them.
goggles, a face shield, or shielded safety glasses to protect
your eyes from splashes and dust particles. You can get face
shields that fit on a hard hat. Goggles or shielded safety glasses
should be worn with a negative-pressure respirator or a dust
mask. Goggles that fit snugly around the nose and at the temple
offer the best protection.
chemical-resistant hood or wide-brimmed hat will help keep pesticides
away from your neck, eyes, mouth and face. If you are doing
airblast spraying, it is critical that you cover your head and
neck. Many PVC or Tyvek coveralls and raincoats/suits have attached
hoods. Do not use a hard hat with a cloth or leather sweatband.
Baseball caps are made with fabric mesh or designed with open
areas, and they will not protect you from pesticide exposure.
can absorb large amounts of pesticides through your nose and
lungs. Wear respiratory devices with a particle cartridge or
canister designed for pesticides when there is a chance that
you might inhale pesticide vapors, fumes or dusts. Disposable
dust masks do not offer enough protection to be used around
pesticide labels list the types of respirators to wear when
handling and applying those products. No one type of respirator
will protect you from every kind of pesticide. NIOSH (National
Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) and MSHA (Mine
Safety and Health Administration) certify certain respirators
for certain types of chemicals. When a label calls for a respirator,
use the one approved by NIOSH and MSHA for that type of chemical.
strongly recommended that you hire a professional to apply
fumigants or other highly toxic gases. Refer to the Pesticide
Applicator Training Manuals at The North Carolina Cooperative
Extension Service office in your county for additional information
on selecting, wearing and adjusting respiratory devices.
find suppliers of protective clothing items, look under "Safety
Equipment" in the Yellow Pages of the telephone directory. Gloves
and boots, hard hats with the face shields and goggles, and
neoprene rainsuits and coveralls may be available at farm, veterinary,
safety and building supply departments.
Tyvek clothing is not available locally, it can be ordered
from farm and chemical safety catalogs. Some examples are:
Supply Company inc.
Safety Appliances Company
Grove Village, IL 60007
protective clothing helps to reduce your risk of exposure to
pesticides. The types of clothing and how the clothing is worn
influence how well you are protected. In all cases, read
the pesticide label and follow the instructions as the final
Sarah, Mary Ellen Wiczynski, and Manfred Wentz. 1988. "Non-woven
Protective Clothing Comfort Parameters for Pesticide Applicators."
In Symposium Proceedings, The First International
Symposium on the Impact of Pesticides, Industrial
and Consumer Chemicals on the Near Environment.
C.J. and Jong-Ok Kim. 1988. Dispersion Mechanism
of a Pesticide Chemical in Woven Fabric Structures.
Special Technical Publication 989. American Society for
Testing and Materials (ASTM), 1916 Race Street, Philadelphia,
S. Z., Richard Sager and Allen P. Nielsen, Editors. 1988.
Performance of Protective Clothing: 2nd Symposium.
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), 1916
Race Street, Philadelphia, PA.
Patrick J. 1988. The Safe and Effective Use of
Pesticides. Publication 3324. University of California.
Mastura. 1988. "Dermal exposure to pesticides." Journal
of Environmental Health. 51 (Number 2): 82-84.
of this publication were adapted from Buying and Wearing
Protective Clothing for Applying Pesticides by Wanda
W. Olson, Sheni A. Gahring and Dean Herzfeld, and published
by the Minnesota Extension Service, University of Minnesota.
information on laundering pesticide-soiled clothing, see Laundering
of tradenames in this publication does not imply endorsement
of such products nor criticism of similar products not mentioned.
document is from a series of the North Carolina Cooperative
Extension Service, North Carolina State University, Raleigh,
North Carolina. Publication date: August 1991.
Specialist In-Charge (Human Environment), Extension Clothing
Specialist, Pesticide Education Specialist; North Carolina Cooperative
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in
NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in
NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder.