you among the 63 percent of certified private pesticide applicators
in Iowa who rarely or never wear cotton coveralls? Or the
53 percent who rarely or never wear disposable ones? If so,
it's time to reconsider. Pesticide labels under the federal
Worker Protection Standard (WPS) may require coveralls for
people working with pesticides or near areas treated with
or two-piece coveralls provide an extra layer of protection
and can reduce skin exposure to pesticides. Although a variety
of protective coveralls are available in local stores or by
mail, few companies provide information about resistance of
their materials to agricultural chemicals. Remember that coveralls
cannot offer complete protection and that no one material
is effective in all situations. Wearing coveralls over regular
work clothes and underwear can reduce the amount of pesticides
that get onto clothing worn next to your skin, and thus, your
overall exposure to pesticides.
around for coveralls that fit comfortably. Sizes may be limited
to S-M-L-XL, but can include XXL, and XXXL. Coveralls must be
big enough to fit over work clothes so you easily can take them
on and off, yet not so big that they interfere with work. Raglan
sleeves provide greater freedom of movement than other styles.
If you are tall or heavy, check extra-tall catalogs for coveralls
with adequate torso length. If you are short, standard sizes
may be too long. For safety reasons, cut off excess length rather
than roll up sleeves or pantlegs. Disposable nonwovens don't
for seams that are lapped or sealed to keep out dusts and
liquids. Lapped zippers or closures give better protection
than snaps or buttons, which can gap open. Close-fitting necks
help prevent pesticides from filtering down the back.
Cotton or cotton/polyester blend twill coveralls that are
as heavy as work jeans are reusable unless contaminated
with a full-strength liquid concentrate spill. In the technical
sense, these materials are not chemically resistant, but
they can reduce the amount of pesticide that gets on your
skin if you wear regular work clothes and underwear underneath
them. Cotton or cotton blend coveralls usually are comfortable
to wear because materials "breathe" or let air through.
Cotton and cotton/polyester fabrics are very strong. Annual
replacement is recommended because residues remain in the
fabric after laundering. These fabrics absorb moisture quickly
so they are helpful primarily for protection against granular
or dry formulations of pesticides (before they are mixed
and PVC-coated fabrics. These coating materials (common
for two-piece coveralls) resist water-based chemicals but
may be permeated by some solvents. To add strength and stability,
the coatings are applied over nylon scrim or other fabrics.
Jackets should not be tucked in at the waist. Little research
has been done on cleanup methods for these suits.
This familiar fabric is widely used in rain gear and sportswear.
Oklahoma research showed that malathion became trapped in
the center layer of this laminate and was not removed by
This spun-bonded polyolefin nonwoven fabric is used in industrial
"clean rooms," for asbestos removal, and for hazardous waste
cleanup. Tyvek® coveralls are disposable, inexpensive,
and come in colors, however, the fabric melts and burns
easily and might not rip off the body if tangled in machinery
because of its strength and tear resistance. Depending on
your situation, three types might be used:
Tyvek® offers about the same protection from
dusts and fine spray mists as regular cotton, but does
a better job if liquid sprays are involved.
Tyvek® repels water and has better chemical
coated Tyvek has most chemical resistance for use when
exposure is longer or pesticides have higher toxicity.
Gard. A microporous membrane of polytetrafluoroethylene
(PTFE) in the center of these fabrics keeps out liquids
while allowing body heat to escape. Florida researchers
found these fabrics offer greater comfort in warm conditions
than polyolefin-based materials, but their barrier effectiveness
for long-term use has not been determined.
A matrix of microfibers in the core layer of this polypropylene
laminate filters out liquids and particles. Kleenguard®
LP is promoted for use in animal production but not pesticide
Chemrel, and Responder®. These fabrics are
designed for hazardous chemical exposure, such as emergency
response, or for highly toxic exposures of longer duration.
offer protection from spills of concentrate during mixing and
loading. Aprons are always worn over regular work clothes and,
perhaps, coveralls. Bib aprons cover the chest to knees and
may have attached sleeves or separate sleeve covers for arm
protection. Other apron styles cover below the waist and may
be split to tie around the legs. Disposable apron materials
can be similar to coveralls or to barrier laminate gloves, such
as Silver Shield® or 4H®. Most Iowa applicators believe
aprons are not necessary for the pesticides they use; but all
pesticide spills are chance events. An apron reduces your risk
you plan your pesticide work, think about the kind of protection
you need and the toxicity of the chemicals you handle and apply.
Under the Worker Protection Standard, pesticide labels must
list requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE). Remember
that field tests support the conclusion that wearing any type
of clean coveralls over regular work clothing is better than
none because layers help prevent pesticides from getting through
to the skin.
aware of temperature as you work; coveralls can contribute
to heat stress in hot and humid conditions.
pesticide-soiled coveralls or aprons before entering a house,
closed tractor cab, truck, or other less-contaminated work
space shared with others.
reusable coveralls in hot water with a strong detergent,
separately from family clothes after every wearing.
cotton coveralls after laundering to help remove pesticide
residues in the next wash.
dry cotton coveralls in the sun, but keep rubber-like materials
out of the sun after laundering to avoid fabric damage.
not try to wash disposable coveralls. The inside will become
contaminated and the item may fall apart in your washer.
not put nitrile or PVC-coated suits in washers; they will
wrinkle and the coating can be damaged. Rinse with a hose,
both inside and outside, or dip in tub of hot water with
detergent. Avoid prolonged soaking. These materials will
melt in a dryer.
safe disposal, slash single-use coveralls with a knife or
cut in half to prevent reuse by people who can't see or
don't know the items are contaminated. Then put them in
a garbage bag, close the bag, and treat as you would empty
pesticide bags and containers.
Much Do You Know?
Tyvek® coveralls offer about the same level of protection
as cotton ones. True or false?
Gard fabrics have been shown to be comfortable in
hot conditions, but their use for pesticide protection needs
more study. True or false?
be washed after each use.
be starched before wearing to help pesticide removal
be replaced every year.
of the above.
your protection, it's a good idea to:
pesticide-soiled garments before entering a truck or
protective clothing after each use with hot water and
of single-use items promptly.
of the above.
answers at the end of the next section.
places to learn more about pesticide safety include the Private
Pesticide Applicator Study Guide, PAT-1, and the Worker Protection
Standard for Agricultural Pesticides How to Comply manual, EPA
735-B-93-001. For a list of product catalogs, see Sources of
Protective Apparel and Gear, PAT-13, and for cleaning tips,
see Learn About Pesticides and Clothes, Pm-1265f. Ask for these
publications at your local extension office.
reports used in preparation include:
J.F. et al. Pesticide Residues in Clothing: Case Study of
Clothing Worn Under Protective Cotton Coveralls. Journal
of Environmental Health, 55:1, 10-13. July 1992.
A.D. et al, Guidance Manual for Selecting Protective Clothing
for Agricultural Pesticides Operations, 68-C9-0037#0-20,
Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency, Cincinnati, 1990.
to quiz: 1-True; 2-True; 3-d; 4-d
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