Fungicide Application Practices and Personal Protective Equipment Use among Orchard Farmers in the Agricultural Health Study

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Alavanja, Michael;
  • Coble, Joseph;
  • Deddens, James A.;
  • Hines, Cynthia J.


Fungicides are routinely applied to deciduous tree fruits for disease management. Seventy-four private orchard applicators enrolled in the Agricultural Health Study participated in the Orchard Fungicide Exposure Study in 2002-2003. During 144 days of observation, information was obtained on chemicals applied and applicator mixing, application, personal protective, and hygiene practices. At least half of the applicators had orchards with <100 trees. Air blast was the most frequent application method used (55%), followed by hand spray (44%). Rubber gloves were the most frequently worn protective equipment (68% mix; 59% apply), followed by respirators (45% mix; 49% apply), protective outerwear (36% mix; 37% apply), and rubber boots (35% mix; 36% apply). Eye protection was worn while mixing and applying on only 35% and 41% of the days, respectively. Bivariate analyses were performed using repeated logistic or repeated linear regression. Mean duration of mixing, pounds of captan applied, total acres sprayed, and number of tank mixes sprayed were greater for air blast than for hand spray (p < 0.05). Spraying from a tractor/vehicle without an enclosed cab was associated with wearing some type of coverall (p < 0.05). Applicators often did not wash their hands after mixing (77%), a finding not explained by glove use. Glove use during mixing was associated with younger age, while wearing long-sleeve shirts was associated with older age (p < 0.05 each). Self-reported unusually high fungicide exposures were more likely on days applicators performed repairs (p < 0.05). These data will be useful for evaluating fungicide exposure determinants among orchard applicators.

Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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