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A good time to review personal pesticide exposure knowledge

‘Pesticide Awareness Week’ takes place in March

February 8, 2021

Now is a good time to review your personal pesticide exposure knowledge for the products you will be handling this season. To get you started, take this pesticide handling self-assessment quiz. Then ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have you read the latest version of the label for the pesticides you will use this season?

Why? Pesticide labels are revised for multiple reasons, including important updates to personal protective wear requirements to limit risk of exposure. These changes do not supersede the label that is on the jug in your possession – as we know: The label is the law – but they are important non-the-less. A recent example is the EPA letter to Syngenta (9.27.2019) that requires, among other updates, that all new Gramoxone SL 3.0 labels now have the wording, “NOT TO BE USED BY UNCERTIFIED PERSONS WORKING UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF A CERTIFIED APPLICATOR”. To read more about this specific update on this product, read the October 10, 2019 post on this subject.

  • Have you held a pesticide label reading session with your workers?

Why? Pesticide labels contain signal words: ‘Danger-Poison’; ‘Danger’; ‘Warning’; and ‘Caution’. These words give an indication of the pesticide’s relative toxicity to humans and animals. Additional ‘precautionary statements’, ‘routes of entry statements’, and ‘specific action statements’ can be found on the front of the label and also in the first few pages. Most pesticide labels will have a section on personal protective clothing and equipment (gloves, respirator, googles).

  • Have you had workers and family members read the pesticide label out loud?

Why? Reading comprehension is the process of simultaneously absorbing and deciphering meaning from written language. The importance of this step is mirrored in airplane stewards reading in multiple languages and pantomiming emergency procedures before take-off. If workers are not fluent in English, consider having someone who is fluent in their native language ask them to read the pesticide exposure portions of the label out loud to ensure reading comprehension. Also demonstrate (‘show’) how to use the eye wash station; how to select the proper glove; how to properly wear goggles; and respirators; and the specific do’s and don’ts in the physician section.

  • Have you planned ahead for how you will limit your cell phone-pesticide handling exposure?

Why? Cell phones have significantly increased the likely hood of accidental touch exposure and routes of entry through hand and facial skin. Actively practicing where you will put your phone and how you will access it to limit exposure will increase muscle memory.

If you would like to take an hour-long refresher on the language of the labels most commonly handle in field crops, email me for a registration link for a two-core credit, approved NJDEP virtual course. The course number is good for the licensing year which ends 10/31/2021.

For more information go to a previous post on this topic.