The greatest risk of pesticide poisoning comes from pesticides contacting the skin. Some areas of the body absorb certain types of pesticides more quickly than other areas. Areas that are more sensitive include the scalp, face, forehead, and ear canal, all of which are more difficult to protect with PPE than other areas of the body.
The methods used to apply pesticides also influences exposure. For instance, exposure risk is greater when applying liquids using high volumes and high pressure than when using low volumes and low pressure. Making applications in enclosed areas is usually more risky than outdoor applications.
In most instances, using more or safer PPE than the label-required equipment increases protection, and is allowed under the regulations. The only exception is with the use of certain fumigants. With these fumigants, protective clothing and gloves may trap the fumigant gas close to the skin, resulting in increased exposure. That is why it is important to know what information is stated on every pesticide label that you use; not all PPE requirements are the same. Read and follow label instructions explicitly for the proper protective clothing and precautions when applying fumigants.
The use of PPE, especially on warm days, increases the risk of heat-related illness. Heat-related illness may mimic certain types of pesticide poisoning. Symptoms of heat illness include tiredness, weakness, headache, sweating, nausea, dizziness, and fainting. Severe heat illness can cause a person to act confused, get angry easily, behave strangely, faint, or go into a coma. The U.S. EPA Worker Protection Standard (WPS) and DPR regulations require that pesticide handlers receive training on recognizing, avoiding, and treating heat stress along with training on recognizing pesticide illness.
Employers must arrange with a medical facility for emergency medical care for their employee handlers. Also, the employer must inform employees of the facility location and assure that any employee handler who is possibly exposedto pesticides or is exhibiting exposure symptoms is transported to that facility. In addition, employers must train handlers on the immediate first aid steps to take to reduce illness or injury. The pesticide label and MSDS provide important first aid information for different types of pesticide exposure. These documents also describe what steps to take in case of a pesticide spill, fire, or other emergencies. Always follow the instructions on pesticide labels and MSDSs because the emergency information they provide is specific to that pesticide product. The following are general first aid steps to take in the absence of label-specific directions.
PESTICIDE LAWS AND REGULATIONS