Unit 7 Personal Protective Equipment


  • Chemical-Resistant Personal Protective Equipment
  • Protecting Your Skin
  • Protecting Your Eyes
  • Protecting Your Respiratory Tract
  • Personal Protective Equipment for Handling Fumigants
  • Disposables and Reusables
  • Maintaining Personal Protective Equipment

Learning Objectives Unit 7 Personal Protective Equipment

After you complete your study of this unit, you should be able to:

  • Describe your legal responsibility for following personal protective equipment requirements in pesticide labeling.
  • Define the term "chemical resistant," and explain how to tell when a material is not chemical resistant to a particular pesticide.
  • Identify factors that determine how well a coverall will protect your body.
  • Explain the importance of wearing gloves when you handle pesticides.
  • Give reasons why, gloves and footwear may fail to protect you.
  • Explain when you should wear protective headgear, and describe appropriate headgear.
  • Explain the term "protective eyewear."
  • Distinguish among dust/mist filtering respirators, vapor-removing respirators, and air- supplying respirators.
  • Describe the special hazards that fumigants pose. Explain some basic guidelines for cleaning and maintaining personal protective equipment items.

Test Your Knowledge Unit 7 Personal Protective Equipment

Q. What legal responsibility do you have for wearing the personal protective equipment that the pesticide labeling lists for your handling situation?
A. By law, you must wear at least the personal protective equipment listed on the labeling for the handling task you will be performing. You are allowed to wear additional or more protective personal protective equipment.

Q. Define the term "chemical-resistant".
A. Chemical-resistant: Able to prevent movement of the pesticide through the material during the period of use.

Q. How can you tell when a material is not chemical-resistant to the pesticide you are handling?
A. The material may change color; become soft or spongy; swell or bubble up; dissolve or become like jelly; crack or get holes; become stiff or brittle.

Q. What factors determine how well your coverall will protect your body?
A. A coverall is most protective if:

  1. It fits loosely so there is a layer of air between it and the skin or inner clothing.
  2. It is worn over another layer of clothing, because each layer of clothing adds a protective layer of air as well as a layer of fabric.
  3. It has tightly constructed seams and snug, overlapping closures that do not gap or become unfastened readily.

Q. When should you wear chemical-resistant gloves? Why are gloves so important to a pesticide handler?
A. Wear chemical-resistant gloves any time you may get pesticides on your hands, except for some fumigants whose labeling may direct you not wear gloves. The hands are by far the most likely route of exposure for a pesticide handler.

Q. If you need to remove your gloves during the handling activity, what steps should you take to remove them and put them back on?
A. Before removing and/or replacing gloves during a handling activity you should:

  1. Wash gloves thoroughly before taking them off.
  2. Wash hands thoroughly and dry them before putting the gloves on again.

Q. Why do pesticides sometimes get on your skin even when you are wearing gloves and protective footwear?
A. The items may not be chemical-resistant to the pesticide being handled; they may not be worn correctly; they may not be in good condition; or they may not have been cleaned correctly or replaced soon enough.

Q. When should you wear protective headgear? What type of headgear should you use?
A. Whenever you may be exposed to pesticides from above, wear protective headgear to help keep pesticides off your head, neck, eyes, mouth, and face. Wear a chemical-resistant hood or widebrimmed hat. Plastic "safari" hats with plastic sweatbands are a good choice.

Q. When the pesticide labeling calls for "protective eyewear," what should you wear?
A. Wear goggles, a face shield, or safety glasses with brow and side shields.

Q. What are the differences among dust/mist-filtering respirators, vapor-removing respirators, and air-supplying respirators?
A. Dust/mist-filtering respirators are masks or cartridges that filter dust, mists, and particles out of the air around you. Vaporremoving respirators use a cartridge or canister to remove pesticide gases and vapors from the air around you. Air-supplying respirators provide you with clean air either from an air tank or from a location where the air is not contaminated with pesticides.

Q. What special hazards do fumigants pose for pesticide handlers?
A. Fumigants pose a serious inhalation hazard to pesticide handlers. Some fumigants also can cause severe skin burns if they are trapped next to the skin by tight clothing or chemical-resistant personal protective equipment.

Q. If the chemical-resistant gloves you have selected are reusable, how often should you routinely replace them? Under what conditions should you replace chemical-resistant items immediately?
A. Throw out most reusable gloves that have been worn for about 5 to 7 days of work. Extra heavy-duty gloves, such as those made of butyl or nitrile rubber, may last as long as 10 to 14 days. Replace chemical-resistant items immediately if they show any sign of wear or have holes, tears, or leaks.

Q. What should you do with a coverall that has highly toxic pesticide concentrate spilled on it?
A. Dispose of the coverall. It cannot be adequately cleaned.

Q. What should you tell the people who will be laundering your clothing about how to protect themselves from pesticides?
A. Tell them to:

  1. Wear chemical-resistant gloves and apron, especially if handling contaminated items regularly or handling items contaminated with highly toxic pesticides.
  2. Work in a well-ventilated area and do not inhale steam from the washer and dryer.

Q. What should you do with your respirator between handling tasks?
A. Seal the respirator in a clean, airtight container, such as a sturdy zip-closable plastic bag. If possible, put caps over the opening on the cartridges or canisters.

Q. What should you do when you are finished using your respirator for the day?
A. At the end of the day you should:

  1. Discard any masks, filters, or respirators that cannot be reused.
  2. Take off the prefilters and cartridges or canisters. Discard them or, if still usable, replace their caps and seal them in an airtight container, such as a zipclosable plastic bag.
  3. Wash the respirator body, facepiece, and any reusable filters. Soak them for at least 2 minutes in a mixture of 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach in a gallon of hot water. Rinse thoroughly. Dry thoroughly or hang them in a clean area to dry.
  4. Store the respirator and any reusable cartridges, canisters, filters, and prefilters in an airtight container in an area where they are protected from dust, sunlight, extreme temperatures, excessive moisture, and pesticides or other chemicals.

Q. How will you know when to replace dust/mist masks, prefilters, and dust/mist-filtering and vapor-removing canisters and cartridges?
A. Change dust/mist masks, cartridges, and prefilters immediately if you have trouble breathing. They usually need to be changed at least every 8 hours. Change vapor-removing canisters or cartridges immediately if you smell, taste, or feel irritation from pesticide vapors. Change them whenever any "service life indicator" tells you that you should, or after the time limit set by the manufacturer. Otherwise, replace them after about 8 hours of use.

Additional Resources
Clemson University websites:

  1. Clemson University Department of Pesticide Regulation
  2. Clemson University Pesticide Information Program