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Applying pesticides? Keep it clean

Jeff Caldwell 08/29/2011 @ 12:05pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

It's a busy time of year for pesticide applications in the field. That puts a premium on safety when it comes to handling chemicals. And, that includes your clothing.

It doesn't take much chemical to contaminate your clothing and open the door to potential adverse health effects from exposure, whether the pesticide comes in liquid, granular or powder form, according to Erin Bauer, University of Nebraska (UNL) Extension associate Erin Bauer and a team of specialists from the UNL Pesticide Safety Education Program. You can avoid dangerous chemical exposure by following these steps:

  • Remove clothing immediately after finishing a chemical application job.
  • Wear chemical-resistant gloves when handling pesticide-contaminated clothing.
  • Wear chemical-resistant clothing (disposable coveralls like those made from Tyvek, for example). "This reduces the amount of exposure your normal clothes will receive from the pesticide," Bauer says in a university report. "In addition, this type of material and the tightness of weave can affect the level of protection the clothing will provide."
  • Wash pesticide application clothing immediately. "Otherwise, store it apart and wash separately from regular laundry," Bauer adds. "Wash pesticide-contaminated clothing daily."
  • Wash contaminated clothing in hot water with liquid detergent.
  • Line dry if possible or use regular dryer setting.

"If clothing is too heavily soiled with pesticides, disposal rather than washing may be warranted," Bauer says. "This includes shoes and boots that have been saturated with pesticides."

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