Pesticides May Not Be Applied Without the Label-Required PPE

— Written By Gina Britton and last updated by
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Protective gear

With the critical need for N95 respirators in the health care field, there are few if any “dust/mist” type respirators or particulate filters (N, P, or HE) available in the marketplace, as of April 2020. Distributors are not even accepting new orders at this time, and back-orders have delivery-dates in June, July, or later.
– Pesticides may not be applied without the label-required PPE.
– Home-made masks are not sufficient substitutes for label-required respirators/masks.
– No exemption or relaxation of the requirements has been made by EPA.
– Users may need to select alternative products or practices, if required PPE is not available. For example, re-usable gloves can be washed and re-used in the absence of disposable gloves.
– If users go without required PPE, it may present an additional burden to emergency departments.
Some herbicide, fungicide, and insecticide labels require respirators to prevent unacceptable levels of exposure. Structural pest control operators often wear PPE to protect themselves in confined spaces, in addition to label requirements. Many of our stakeholders may not feel the effects of PPE shortages until later in the year, so we have an opportunity to help them plan ahead.
Spread the word to pesticide dealers, consultants, Extension educators, and other interested parties:
– Review product labels to identify key products that require respiratory protection.
– Evaluate existing inventory and/or availability of PPE.
– Seek alternative products or practices if PPE is not obtainable. There may be a very similar product available with different label requirements.
Sleuthing Tools: Hunting for Alternative Products and Practices
CDMS Label Database:Crop Data Management Systems (CDMS) works with key pesticide registrants, hosting their current labels and Safety Data Sheets online.
PICOL: Pesticide Information Center Online (PICOL) for WA and OR – The search menu can find products by crop and pesticide type, and filter by target pest to seek out alternatives, and view current approved labels.
Agrian: Works with manufacturers to have labels and other supporting documents. This search engine has a safety tab that lists the PPE requirements without having to search the label. The pesticide label can also be referenced.
USDA Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Database: Documents include common pests by crop, and a variety of pest management options.
NPIC’s Product Research Online:  read labels online.

Wayne Buhler, PhD, Professor and Pesticide Safety Extension Specialist
Department of Horticultural Science