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)
or mail the test to:
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.
PESTICIDE APPLICATOR SAFETY
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.
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
The type of application equipment needed by an applicator
is influenced by several factors, including the following:
- The pest to be controlled.
- The pesticide and formulation to be used.
- The crop(s) to be treated.
- The acreage to be treated.
- 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
|Check for leaks in tanks, booms,
hoses and nozzles.
|Check for loose
|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.
- Choose equipment wisely.
- Calibrate equipment accurately.
- Operate equipment correctly.
- Inspect equipment frequently.
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
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
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.
filters have a "lifetime" which is shorter under higher
concentrations than under low concentrations of toxicants.
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.
- Applicators should wear personal protection equipment
- When pesticides enter the body through the mouth, into
the stomach, this is called
- When pesticides enter the body through the mouth and
nose, into the lungs, this is called
- Name three parts of the body that absorb pesticides more
readily than others.
- Why should personal protective equipment made of cotton
- When handling pesticides, what length gloves should you
- When applying pesticides, what is the best material for
foot wear to be made of, leather, canvas or synthetic rubber?
- Dermal absorption is the term used when toxic material
is absorbed by the
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
- 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:
- Store pesticides in their original container.
- All pesticide containers must be clearly and legibly
marked with a proper label.
- Never store pesticides in food or drink containers.
- Store glass containers on lower shelves to reduce risk
of dropping and breakage.
- Do not store pesticides and fertilizers in the same building.
- Do not store pesticides with food, feed or seeds.
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
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:
- Always wear the proper clothing and personal protection
- Always use a face shield to protect from splashing.
- Never use your mouth to siphon a pesticide from a container.
- Never work downwind from possible drift.
- Never leave a spray tank unattended when filling it.
- When pouring a pesticide, keep your head well above the
- To prevent spills, replace and tightly close caps of
- 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
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
- Check and calibrate all equipment.
- Clear the area to be treated of people and livestock.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke while applying pesticides.
- Wash hands thoroughly before using the toilet.
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
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.
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.
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
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
- Failure to handle contamination from spills and splashing.
- Using the wrong equipment for the job at hand.
- Failure to repair or replace leaking equipment.
- Use of inadequate clothing and personal protection equipment,
such a gloves, proper foot wear and a proper hat.
- Eating, drinking or smoking while handling or applying
- Failure to avoid drift while applying pesticides.
- Mixing and loading pesticides in a place with inadequate
- Removing gloves before the rest of the protection equipment
and clothing has been removed.
- 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