Protecting yourself from pesticides


Protecting Yourself from Pesticides

Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA)


Weeds, insects, fungus—these pests can threaten crops. But using pesticides to kill them shouldn’t come at the expense of your health.


There are four ways that pesticides enter the body: absorption, inhalation, ingestion or injection.


* Absorption. Pesticides can be absorbed through your body, especially moist areas including your eyes, groin, armpits and ear canals. To protect yourself, wear chemical resistant coveralls with elastic cuffs and a hood. The legs of your coveralls should go over the top of footwear, not inside. This will protect you from liquid that may drip down your pant legs. Footwear should be sturdy and keep chemicals out. Don’t wear runners or leather shoes. They absorb chemical splashes. Hands should be covered with unlined, chemical-resistant gloves with long gauntlets to protect the arms.


* Inhalation. Chemicals can also be inhaled through the nose and mouth. To protect your airways, cover your face with a half-face chemical cartridge respirator and safety goggles or a splash shield.


* Ingestion. Once a pesticide has been applied, the mist, dust, powders or fumes can linger on your body, clothes, or other objects and be ingested unknowingly. Wash up thoroughly before using the washroom, touching food or utensils or handling anything that goes into the mouth. Even licking unwashed lips can cause harmful chemicals to enter your digestive system.


* Injection. Watch out for sharp objects such as nails, wires or staples that may be coated with pesticides. If one of these objects pierces your skin, you could be injecting chemicals into your body.


Remember, if you are exposed to a pesticide, you could expose your family too. So wear personal protective equipment when handling pesticides or working in recently sprayed fields and wash up before going home.


If you aren’t sure if you should be wearing protective equipment, ask your supervisor. Federal and provincial laws in Canada protect agricultural workers from exposure to pesticides at work. You have a right to wear personal protective equipment when handling pesticides.


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