Fluorescent Tracer Evaluation of Chemical Protective Clothing during Pesticide Applications in Central Florida Citrus Groves

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Fenske, Richard A.;
  • Birnbaum, Shari G.;
  • Lu, Chensheng;
  • Methner, Mark M.;
  • Nigg, Herbert N.


Chemical protective clothing (CPC) is often recommended as a method of exposure mitigation among pesticide applicators. This study evaluated four CPC regimens (cotton work shirts and work pants, cotton/polyester coveralls, and two non-woven garments) during 33 airblast applications of the organophosphorus insecticide ethion in central Florida citrus groves. CPC performance was determined by measurement of fluorescent tracer deposition on skin surfaces beneath garments with a video imaging analysis instrument (VITAE system), and by alpha-cellulose patches placed outside and beneath the garments.

Non-woven coveralls allowed significantly greater exposure than did traditional woven garments, primarily because of design factors (e.g., large sleeve and neck openings). The greatest exposure occurred on the forearms beneath the non-woven garments. Fabric penetration was detected for all test garments; 5% to 7% of the ethion measured outside the garments was found beneath the garments. The clothing materials tested were not chemically resistant under these field conditions. Exposure pathways that would probably be undetected by the patch technique were characterized effectively with fluorescent tracers and video imaging analysis. However, the patch technique was more sensitive in detecting fabric penetration. CPC garments have been improved since this study was conducted, but performance testing under field conditions is not widespread. Workers conducting airblast applications would be better protected by closed cab systems or any technology that places an effective barrier between the worker and the pesticide spray.

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