At the end of this course there will be a test consisting of 10 random questions. PRINT out the test and answer the questions,

then Fax to: (512) 990-0665

or mail the test to:, Inc.
P.O. Box 81552
Austin, TX 78708-1552

Once received, the questionnaire will be reviewed and a Certificate will be issued. The governing agency will be notified of your CEUs. We will maintain your records for the appropriate time frame.


Pesticides are substances or mixtures of substances used to prevent, destroy, repel or reduce the intensity of pest populations. Pesticides can harm or kill non-target plants and animals including humans. A pesticide applicator may be at risk of harm if pesticides are not applied in a safe manner.

Pesticide applicators need to know what precautions should be taken with each application of pesticide. Applicators need to have a knowledge of how excessive exposure could take place and how that exposure can be prevented. They also need to be knowledgeable of safety precautions involving the transportation, storage and mixing of pesticides. Additional information on cleaning application equipment, personal protection equipment, pesticide spills and the disposal of pesticide containers is needed to carry out an effective safety program.


Pesticides are designed, developed, manufactured and applied to kill living organisms that are considered as pests. Some pesticides can be fatal in very small amounts, others may cause only minor irritation of the skin, eyes, nose or mouth and throat. Some may affect only persons that are hypersensitive to specific pesticides or the solvent used in its formulation. Although all pesticides can be applied safely when applied in accordance to label directions, almost every pesticide can pose some kind of health risk if it is not handled and applied safely.

Safety should be the concern of every pesticide applicator. Because of their frequent handling and use of pesticides, applicators must take special precautions to minimize exposure to all pesticides. Safety precautions and procedures should be reviewed frequently and practiced daily. Adopting and using the proper safety procedures could save your life.

The safe use of pesticides should be a planned action and a normal practice. To just be aware of safety precautions is not enough. All safety procedures should be strictly observed.

Most of us have heard the old saying, "It is always the unloaded gun that kills someone." This, in a way can apply to pesticide poisonings. Most poisonings occur when applicators become so familiar with the use of a pesticide that, they believe that they know what they can "get-away-with" and, they ignore safety precautions.

Following all safety precautions during the application of a pesticide is essential. However, this is only one phase of an effective safety program. The safe use of pesticides should begin with the selection, purchase, frequent inspection and maintenance of the proper application equipment and personal protection equipment. Safety should be considered in the purchase of pesticides, transporting and storage of pesticides, cleaning of application and personal protective equipment and in the disposal of pesticide containers.

Selection and Maintenance of Application Equipment

The type of application equipment needed by an applicator is influenced by several factors, including the following:

  1. The pest to be controlled.
  2. The pesticide and formulation to be used.
  3. The crop(s) to be treated.
  4. The acreage to be treated.
  5. The ecological and environmental situations prevalent.

Applicator safety is closely related to application equipment and should be considered in the selection of equipment. This includes the type of equipment and any accessories including tanks, pumps, hoses and nozzles. The market provides a very large selection of equipment to choose from. Applicators are able to find the proper equipment to effectively and safely complete any specific application task.

Application equipment needs to be of a capacity so as to enable effective application of the volume of material needed. Do not challenge the capacity of the equipment. Do not try to get more out of the equipment than it is designed for. This can cause malfunctions, breakdowns and equipment failure that can result in added exposure to the applicator.

Proper maintenance of equipment extends the life of the equipment and reduces the risk of the applicator to pesticide exposure. All equipment should be inspected frequently and thoroughly. Breakdowns and malfunctions can lead to disassembly and repairs under unfavorable conditions, putting applicators at greater risk of exposure.

Prior to and frequently during use, all equipment should be inspected.


Check for leaks in tanks, booms, hoses and nozzles.
Check for loose connections.
Check the spray pattern of each nozzle as the spray pattern can indicate blockage or excessive wear and the need to replace a nozzle.

One of the best ways to check application equipment is to fill the spray tank with clean water, operate the equipment at normal pressure and closely observe the performance of the equipment.


  1. Choose equipment wisely.
  2. Calibrate equipment accurately.
  3. Operate equipment correctly.
  4. Inspect equipment frequently.


  1. Two positive aspects of proper equipment maintenance are and .
  2. Name three things that should be inspected prior to each use of application equipment. , and .
  3. Why should the spray pattern of each spray nozzle be checked prior to each use? and .

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) provides a barrier between the pesticide applicator and the chemical that he is applying. Applicators should wear PPE when mixing, loading and applying pesticides. In some cases, PPE should be worn during equipment cleanup and when it is necessary to enter treated areas before the determined safe reentry time.

Pesticides may enter the body in three ways. They may enter through the mouth (ingestion), where they are absorbed by the stomach and intestines. They may enter through the nose or mouth, into the lungs (inhalation), where they are absorbed. Also, pesticides may enter the body when they are absorbed directly through the skin (dermally).

Different locations on the body differ considerably in their capacity to absorb pesticides.

Figure 1. The relative rates of absorption for specific locations on the human body.

When selecting PPE you should check the label of the pesticides you plan to use. The labels for Class I and Class II pesticides (signal words Danger and Warning) should contain information on PPE required. The labels of products registered for use in agricultural production will include information on PPE for reentry of workers.

Many labels of less toxic materials simply state that the applicator should avoid contact with or avoid breathing spray mist. This should not be taken that applicators should not wear some protective equipment. Applicators should always wear long sleeved shirts, long pants, a hat, socks, shoes and gloves.

HEAD AND NECK PROTECTION: Exposure from overhead sprays and dusts is always a threat, especially for flaggers during aerial applications and when pesticides are applied with air-blast sprayers such as those used to spray fruit and nut trees. When choosing hats, hatbands and hoods, avoid those made of materials that are absorbent, such as felt or cotton. Also avoid those made of materials that may be affected by the pesticide or solvent causing them to deteriorate and fail.

Good selections for head-wear include chemical resistant hats with wide brims and hard-hats that are washable. Chemical resistant "foul-weather-gear" such as parkas with hoods give very good protection but may be too hot to use except in cooler weather.

EYE PROTECTION: Many pesticides and solvents are eye irritants and can cause serious eye damage. Proper eye protection is a necessity to protect from sprays, dust particles and even some vapors. One of the most common causes of eye irritation comes from splashing during the mixing and loading of pesticides. Always wear eye protection when pouring, mixing and loading pesticides.

MASKS AND RESPIRATORS: Some masks filter out only solid particles or dusts. Other masks or respirators, which contain chemical cartridges, also filter out toxic fumes. A pesticide's label tells you when a respirator is needed for application.


Protection from certain chemicals may require respirators with cartridges of a specific type.
Cartridges and filters have a "lifetime" which is shorter under higher concentrations than under low concentrations of toxicants.
Cartridges and filters must be changed in a timely manner to be useful.
Masks and respirators must fit the applicator properly to be effective.

APRON: When involved in activities requiring close contact with Class I and Class II toxicity pesticides, applicators are required to wear an apron. This is a good practice with other pesticides as well, especially when they are handled in the concentrate form. Aprons give very good protection against spills and splashing. The best aprons to use are ones made of materials that are not affected by solvents used in pesticide formulations.

GLOVES: When handling pesticides, use unlined, elbow-length gloves that are chemical-resistant. This will protect your hands, wrists and lower arms. Use gloves made of synthetic materials. Natural rubber gloves are often affected by solvents and are effective only for use with dry formulations. Cotton and leather gloves absorb liquids, creating an additional hazard. Inspect gloves frequently. Replace gloves that are defective. Slash all gloves that are to be discarded to prevent any further use.

BOOTS: Applicators handling moderately or highly toxic pesticides should wear high-top shoes or boots that cover their ankles. Foot wear of synthetic materials is preferred, footwear made of natural materials including leather and canvas should not be worn as they can absorb pesticides and increase exposure.


Wear pant legs outside of boots so pesticide can not drain into them.
Keep footwear for use only when applying pesticides.
Thoroughly clean all footwear after each use.


  1. Applicators should wear personal protection equipment when , and pesticides.
  2. When pesticides enter the body through the mouth, into the stomach, this is called .
  3. When pesticides enter the body through the mouth and nose, into the lungs, this is called .
  4. Name three parts of the body that absorb pesticides more readily than others. , and .
  5. Why should personal protective equipment made of cotton be avoided? .
  6. When handling pesticides, what length gloves should you wear? .
  7. When applying pesticides, what is the best material for foot wear to be made of, leather, canvas or synthetic rubber? .
  8. Dermal absorption is the term used when toxic material is absorbed by the .

Transporting Pesticides

The safe transportation of pesticides is the responsibility of the applicator that has purchased the pesticide. Vehicles transporting pesticides should never be left unattended. Vehicles transporting pesticides should be in proper working condition. Pesticides should never be transported in the passenger compartment of a vehicle.

During transportation, pesticides should be properly secured. Movement or shifting may cause breakage, rupture or puncture of containers, resulting in spills or leaks.

Never transport pesticides with people or pets. Never transport pesticides with food, feed or seeds where leaks or spills can contaminate them.

In case of an emergency, such as a vehicular accident, drivers should have an emergency telephone number that they can call. They should also have on hand specific materials to deal with emergencies. Emergency equipment to be carried in vehicles transporting pesticides should include:

  • soap and water to wash with and to flush eyes
  • personal protection equipment such as coveralls and gloves
  • absorbent material to soak up spills
  • shovel, fire extinguisher and container for waste

Storage of Pesticides

Proper storage is one of the most neglected, if not the most neglected areas of pesticide use and safety. Improper storage can result in breakage, spillage and leakage of containers. It results in damaged or lost labels, which can lead to the misidentification and misuse of pesticides.

The proper storage of pesticides reduces the risk of exposure and promotes safety. As soon as pesticides reach your property, they should be placed in a proper storage facility where children and unauthorized persons can not get to them. Pesticide storage facilities should be fire proof, locked when not in use and properly posted as being a pesticide storage area. Pesticide storage facilities should be well ventilated and well lighted.

A fire extinguisher and absorbent material should be kept on hand. Do not keep these materials in the storage facility but in a nearby building. Proper storage of pesticides include:

  1. Store pesticides in their original container.
  2. All pesticide containers must be clearly and legibly marked with a proper label.
  3. Never store pesticides in food or drink containers.
  4. Store glass containers on lower shelves to reduce risk of dropping and breakage.
  5. Do not store pesticides and fertilizers in the same building.
  6. Do not store pesticides with food, feed or seeds.


  1. When a vehicle is transporting pesticides, which of the following is true, the vehicle must be locked or, the vehicle must not be left unattended? .
  2. Never transport pesticides with food, or .
  3. When should pesticides be placed in secure storage? .
  4. Never store pesticides in or containers.

Mixing and Loading Pesticides

The most hazardous activity of pesticide use is the mixing of the spray material. When mixing pesticides, the applicator is in close contact with the concentrated pesticide. Any splashing or spilling greatly increases the amount of toxicant that the applicator is exposed to. Not only are liquid formulations more hazardous when mixing, but wettable powders and soluble powders are also more hazardous during the mixing process.

Pesticides are preferably mixed and loaded outdoors. If mixed indoors, they must be mixed in a well lighted and well ventilated area.

When mixing and loading pesticides, some of the safety precautions that should be followed are:

  1. Always wear the proper clothing and personal protection equipment.
  2. Always use a face shield to protect from splashing.
  3. Never use your mouth to siphon a pesticide from a container.
  4. Never work downwind from possible drift.
  5. Never leave a spray tank unattended when filling it.
  6. When pouring a pesticide, keep your head well above the container.
  7. To prevent spills, replace and tightly close caps of pesticide containers.
  8. When mixing and loading pesticides, DO NOT WORK ALONE.

When an applicator is exposed to splashing or a spill while mixing or loading pesticides, he should stop immediately, remove all contaminated safety equipment and clothing and wash thoroughly with soap and water. TIME IS OF ESSENCE, as pesticides may be rapidly absorbed into the body and they must be removed as soon as possible.

Applying the Pesticides

Nothing enhances pesticide safety more than the use of good common sense. Before using any pesticide, consult the label for information on procedures for safe application and the proper personal protection equipment that is needed.

Never apply pesticides when weather conditions are unfavorable, increasing the risk of drift into the applicator or off of the intended target site.

Some important safety practices to use when applying pesticides include:

  1. Check and calibrate all equipment.
  2. Clear the area to be treated of people and livestock.
  3. Do not eat, drink or smoke while applying pesticides.
  4. Wash hands thoroughly before using the toilet.


  1. The most hazardous activity of pesticide use that the pesticide applicator is involved in, is .
  2. When mixing pesticides, there is no spray mist produced, so no personal protection equipment is required. True or false? .
  3. Why is protection from splashing, during the mixing and loading of pesticides so important? .
  4. Give two good personal safety practices to observe during mixing and loading pesticides. and .
  5. Before making any pesticide application, the pesticide applicator should consult the pesticide label for information on and .


After applying a pesticide, an applicator's task has not ended. The application equipment, personal protective equipment, and the applicator himself needs to be thoroughly cleaned of pesticide residue.

All mixing, loading and application equipment should be properly cleaned, immediately after use. In some cases, steam cleaning may be necessary. In other situations, cleaning with soap and water is adequate. Cleanup should take place in a specific area, designed for the task. Water from equipment cleanup must not contaminate water supplies and waterways.

Personal protection equipment should be thoroughly washed with soap and water. It should be dried and stored separately from other clothing.

Applicators should wear clean clothing daily. After applying pesticides, an applicator should remove all protective equipment and clothing, removing the gloves last. He should bathe thoroughly, paying close attention to his hair and fingernails where pesticide could still remain. Pesticide residues on clothing can be reduced by hosing down or rinsing with clean water. Soiled clothing should be kept outdoors until washed. Contaminated clothing should be washed with a heavy duty detergent, at a temperature of at least 140 degrees F. Never wash contaminated clothing with the family wash.

Disposal of Pesticide Containers

Used pesticide containers must be properly cleaned and disposed of. Wear personal protection equipment when cleaning used containers. All used containers should be triple rinsed or pressure cleaned. Used pesticide containers must never be reused for any other purpose. Puncture and crush containers to prevent their accidental use.

Store used pesticide containers in a secure area, set aside for that purpose. Check federal, state and local laws affecting the final disposal of the containers.


  1. The pesticide applicator's task is completed only when , and are properly cleaned.
  2. When a pesticide application has been completed and your personal protection equipment is being removed, what is the last piece of equipment that should be removed? .
  3. When should clothing worn by an applicator be changed, when it shows visible evidence of contamination or should it be changed daily? .
  4. Clothing worn for pesticide application should be washed after each use, with a heavy duty detergent, at a temperature of degrees F.
  5. All water that is used to rinse and clean up application equipment must be contained to prevent contamination of and .
  6. Used pesticide containers should be pressure cleaned or rinsed and drained at least times.
  7. To prevent reuse, pesticide containers should be and .
  8. Safe storage, and final disposal of used pesticide containers is the responsibility of .

Plan for Emergencies

Always be prepared for an emergency. Have telephone numbers for reporting an emergency on hand at all times. Have personal protective equipment and a change of clothing on hand at all times. For each of the pesticides you have on hand, have a MSDS. Be familiar with the information pertaining to rapid response to spills and fires. Have a fire extinguisher and an appropriate first aid kit readily available. Know the symptoms of, and first aid for pesticide poisoning.

Record Keeping

The practice of compiling and keeping adequate records is often neglected. However, records of pesticide use are necessary to satisfy the requirements of regulatory agencies.

Records of pesticides and their use, is an important step in an applicator's personal safety. Applicators should keep a current and accurate inventory of all pesticides in their possession. In an emergency, these records are valuable in identifying the specific source of poisoning and greatly aids in determining the correct treatment.

Monitoring Your Health

All persons handling pesticides regularly should participate in a health monitoring program. It has long been recommended that persons handling organophosphate and carbamate pesticides establish a base level for plasma cholinesterase, and that their cholinesterase be monitored frequently. A 25% depression in their base cholinesterase level indicates excessive absorption, and they should not be exposed to additional cholinesterase inhibitors.

Common Causes of Excessive Pesticide Exposures

The more we work with a pesticide, the more we feel comfortable with it. When we feel comfortable with a pesticides use, we then have a tendency to neglect safety precautions. In most of the cases where applicators are exposed to excessive amounts of pesticide, there is a lapse of good common sense and of the normal safety practices.

Some of the most common causes of excessive exposure are as follows:

  1. Failure to handle contamination from spills and splashing.
  2. Using the wrong equipment for the job at hand.
  3. Failure to repair or replace leaking equipment.
  4. Use of inadequate clothing and personal protection equipment, such a gloves, proper foot wear and a proper hat.
  5. Eating, drinking or smoking while handling or applying pesticides.
  6. Failure to avoid drift while applying pesticides.
  7. Mixing and loading pesticides in a place with inadequate ventilation.
  8. Removing gloves before the rest of the protection equipment and clothing has been removed.
  9. Failure to wear the proper protection equipment when entering treated fields before the required time for safe reentry has lapsed.


The use of good common sense is the pathway to safe pesticide application.





Copyright © 2001, 2002, Inc. All Rights Reserved