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Personal Safety Procedures
You can never be too careful when handling pesticides. Every precaution should be taken to prevent accidental pesticide poisoning. When laundering pesticide contaminated clothing, remember:
- Read the pesticide label for information.
- Disposable pesticide clothing provides extra protection.
- Pre-rinse clothing by presoaking in a suitable container; agitating in an automatic washing machine; spraying/hosing the garment(s) outdoors.
- Washing machine settings: hot water temperature (140°F/60°C), full water level, normal (12 minutes) wash cycle.
- Re-wash the contaminated clothing two or three times, if necessary.
- Wash a few contaminated garments at a time, using lots of water.
- Wash separately from family laundry. Discard clothing if thoroughly saturated.
- Launder clothing daily when applying pesticide daily.
- Rinse machine thoroughly after laundering contaminated clothing.
- Line dry to avoid contaminating the automatic dryer.
- Be aware of when pesticides are being used so that clothing can be appropriately laundered.
Skill in the handling of pesticides is necessary for proper results and for safety. You must know how to handle and understand the directions for use and how to apply it most effectively. You must know how to recognize signs and symptoms of poisoning and how to use proper first aid.
Directions on the chemical label will always tell you to wear protective clothing, gloves, goggles and use a respirator. Wash your protective clothing and equipment after each use. When applying highly toxic pesticides and when directed on the label, your wardrobe should include the following: Coverall or a long-sleeved shirt and long pants; raincoat or liquid-proof apron; hard hat or other waterproof hat; boots made of unlined neoprene; gloves made of unlined neoprene long enough to protect the wrists; goggles or face shield; respirator (the three major types are cartridge, canister and self-contained).
- Organophosphate and carbamate pesticides - mild poisoning signs/symptoms will be: headache, fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, excessive sweating, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, salivation and eye watering. Moderate poisoning signs/symptoms will be: weakness, tightness in chest, pinpoint pupils and muscle twitching. Severe poisoning signs/symptoms will be: unconsciousness, seizures and flacid paralysis.
- Bipyridyls (paraquat and diquat) poisoning signs/symptoms will be: blackening of fingernails, nosebleeds, sore throat, severe burning from ingested pesticide, kidney failure, liver damage and lung injury.
- Fumigants poisoning signs/symptoms will be: headache, dizziness nausea and vomiting, swelling of throat, drowsiness, loss of coordination, tremors and seizures, weakness.
Get medical advice quickly if you or any of your fellow workers have unusual or unexplained symptoms starting at work or later the same day. Do not let yourself or anyone else get dangerously sick before calling your physician or going to a hospital. First aid is the initial effort to help a victim while medical help is on the way. If you are alone with the victim, make sure the victim is breathing and is not being further exposed to the poison before you call for emergency help. Apply artificial respiration if the victim is not breathing. Read the first aid instructions on the pesticide label, if possible. Follow those instructions. Do not become exposed to poisoning yourself while you are trying to help. Take the pesticide container (or label) to the physician. Do not carry the pesticide container in the passenger space of a car or truck. Poison on skin: act quickly, remove contaminated clothing and drench skin with water, cleanse skin and hair thoroughly with detergent and water, dry victim and wrap in blanket. Chemical burn on skin: wash with large quantities of running water. Remove contaminated clothing. Cover burned area immediately with loose, clean, soft cloth. Do not apply ointments, greases, powders or other drugs in first aid treatment of burns. Poison in eye: wash eye quickly but gently. Hold eyelid open and wash with gentle stream of clean running water. Wash for 15 minutes or more. Do not use chemicals or drugs in the wash water as they may increase the extent of injury. Inhaled poison: carry victim to fresh air immediately. Open all doors and windows so no one else will be poisoned. Loosen tight clothing. Apply artificial respiration if breathing has stopped or if the victim's skin is blue. If patient is in an enclosed area, do not enter without proper protective clothing and equipment. If proper protection is not available, call for emergency equipment from your fire department. Poison in mouth or swallowed: rinse mouth with plenty of water. Give victim large amounts (up to 1 quart) of milk or water to drink. Induce vomiting only if instructions to do so are on the label. Procedure for inducing vomiting: position victim face down or kneeling forward. Do not allow victim to lie on his back because the vomitus could enter the lungs and do additional damage. Put finger or the blunt end of a spoon at the back of victim's throat or give syrup of ipecac. Collect some of the vomitus for the physician if you do not know what the poison is. Do not use salt solutions to induce vomiting. Do not induce vomiting: if the victim is unconscious or is having convulsions or if the victim has swallowed a corrosive poison. A corrosive poison is a strong acid or alkali. It will burn the throat and mouth as severely coming up as it did going down. It may get into the lungs and burn there also. Also, do not induce vomiting if the victim has swallowed an emulsifiable concentrate or oil solution. Emulsifiable concentrates and oil solutions may cause severe damage to the lungs if inhaled during vomiting.
Some labels on equipment and chemicals note specific safety gear recommendations, but all crop protection products require the same basic protective clothing whenever you are around them:
- Long sleeved shirt.
- Long pants.
- Sturdy shoes or boots.
- Chemical resistant gloves.
- Chemical resistant apron or jump suit. (A respirator is also required for certain chemicals.)