Understanding a Pesticide Label- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

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PPE is required when applying or preparing a pesticide for use. Some of you may be asking, what is PPE? PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment and each pesticide has different requirements for what you should wear while you’re applying. Both pesticides obtained with a pesticide license or at hardware stores must follow the labeled PPE. The section detailing what PPE is required is usually near the front of the safety instructions and will tell you if a respirator is required and what clothing you need to be wearing when using the product.

For example, let’s take a hypothetical pesticide called “Weed Remover 500”. Weed Remover 500 has a section labeled “applicators and other handlers” and lists the requirements for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The label states you must wear a long sleeve shirt and long pants along with closed toed shoes and socks. The safety instructions also state that if clothing becomes drenched with the chemical, you should throw away those pieces of clothing. This is just one example of what you may see when you read the PPE safety section on a pesticide label. Different pesticides require different equipment and it’s always important to remember that the label is the law.

Gloves and a long sleeve shirt are two of the most common requirements for PPE. This is due to your hands and forearms being a regular area for pesticide exposure. If you spill the pesticide on any clothing, it should be immediately removed followed by washing the exposed area thoroughly. Remember to put on clean clothing that is not contaminated with the pesticide. Clothing used during a pesticide application should be washed separately from normal clothing and cleaned with hot water and detergent. Before washing other clothing, you must run a cycle with no clothes in the wash with detergent.

If you have any questions, please contact me at 919-775-5624 or jared_butler@ncsu.edu.

Jared Butler is the Agriculture Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.