Personal Protective Equipment for Working With Pesticides

Pesticide applicators need to choose the proper personal protective equipment for the job at hand.

The users on farms, in gardens, pest control businesses, and greenhouses should wear protective clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE).

There are many pesticides with different toxicity levels and formulations, so it is not easy for the person responsible for selecting equipment and defining procedures that best suit a particular situation.

Pesticides can enter the body in four main ways: by mouth, by inhalation, or by contact with the skin or eyes. In most pesticide handling situations, the skin is the part of the body most likely to receive exposure. About 97 % of human exposure to pesticides during spraying occurs through contact with the skin.


  • respirators
  • chemically impervious gloves and footwear
  • washable coveralls and hats
  • goggles or face shields.


Route-of-entry statements on the pesticide product label indicate the outcome that can be expected from different kinds of exposure. For example, a pesticide label might read, “Poisonous if swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. Rapidly absorbed through the skin and eyes.” This tells the user that this pesticide is a potential hazard through all three routes of entry, and that skin and eye contact are particularly hazardous. The specific action statements normally follow the route-of-entry statements and indicate what must be done to prevent accidental poisoning. Using the previous example, the specific action statement might read, “Do not get in eyes, on skin, or on clothing. Do not breathe spray mist.”

Before handling, mixing, loading, or applying any pesticide, read the product label directions completely. If the label calls for the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), comply fully with those directions. The label will define the minimal protective equipment required for various tasks. Note that the PPE required for mixing and loading may be more extensive than the PPE required during application because of the potential for contact with a concentrated pesticide product.


Wear chemical-resistant clothing when mixing, loading, or handling undiluted and toxic pesticides. A few pesticide labels specify that a chemical-resistant protective suit is required when applying the pesticide.

“Chemical resistant” means that there will be no measurable movement of the pesticide through the material during the period of use.

The protection offered by chemical-resistant clothing depends upon the fabric and design features, such as flaps over zippers and bound or sealed seams. Such garments are often elasticized at the wrist and ankle.

Tyvek is a disposable chemically resistant protective clothing fabric. The non-woven olefin fabric is worn over regular work clothing. Tyvek comes uncoated or as a laminate (polyethylene [PE] -coated or Saranex 23P). Uncoated Tyvek is about as effective as soil-repellent finished cotton or cotton/polyester blends. The laminates of Tyvek, especially Saranex-23P, are suitable for handling undiluted and highly toxic pesticides.

Do not use PE Tyvek if there will be extended exposure to liquid organophosphates, because the emulsifier may damage the PE coating. Organophosphates include malathion, acephate (Orthene), terbufos, diazinon, fonofo,s, and dimethoate.


Your feet and shoes also need protection from pesticide spills. Put your pant legs over your boots. Unlined neoprene or butyl rubber boots, or Tyvek shoe or boot covers should be worn Wear clean socks and affy. Leather and canvas shoes, including tennis shoes, cannot be cleaned thoroughly and should never be worn without rubber or neoprene boots. Always clean the outside of the boots before removing them.


Wear goggles, a face shield, or shielded safety glasses to protect your eyes from splashes and dust particles. You can get face shields that fit on a hard hat. Goggles or shielded safety glasses should be worn with a negative-pressure respirator or a dust mask. Goggles that fit snugly around the nose and at the temple offer the best protection.


A chemical-resistant hood or wide-brimmed hat will help keep pesticides away from your neck, eyes, mouth, and face. If you are doing airblast spraying, you must cover your head and neck. Many PVC or Tyvek coveralls and raincoats/suits have attached hoods. Do not use a hard hat with a cloth or leather sweatband. Baseball caps are made with fabric mesh or designed with open areas, and they will not protect you from pesticide exposure.


You can absorb large amounts of pesticides through your nose and lungs. Wear respiratory devices with a particle cartridge or canister designed for pesticides when there is a chance that you might inhale pesticide vapors, fumes, or dust. Disposable dust masks do not offer enough protection to be used around pesticides.

Some pesticide labels list the types of respirators to wear when handling and applying those products. No one type of respirator will protect you from every kind of pesticide.



If due to the risk assessment, a protective suit for protection against plant protection products is required when handling a pesticide, the suit must comply with at least one of the following standards:

Level C3 protective clothing by EN ISO 27065 “Protective clothing – performance requirements for protective clothing worn by operators handling liquid pesticide products as well as protective clothing worn by re-entry workers”.

-DIN 32781 “Protective clothing – protective suits against pesticides”.

Type 3 or 4 protective clothing in accordance to directive clothing against liquid chemicals – Performance requirements for full-body protective clothing with liquid-tight (Type 3) or spray-tight (Type 4) connections between different parts of the clothing”.

EN ISO 27065

Standard EN ISO 27065 consists of three levels, C1, C2, and C3, whereby C3 is the highest protection level.

-C1 and C2 are suitable for follow-up work, with C2 also being suitable for use with diluted plant protection products. The majority of protective clothing that meets the requirements of these levels is reusable.

-C3 is suitable for use with diluted plant protection products as well as concentrated pesticides with which the respective user may come into contact during the mixing process.

The suitability test as part of standard EN ISO 27065 considers the material and seams of the protective suits in question. The test classifies the protective clothing based on physical and chemical material properties. The tests are carried out under controlled laboratory conditions using defined test substances.

DIN 32781

The performance requirements for chemical-protection clothing that must be worn when handling or distributing diluted pesticide solutions are set out in DIN 32781. As part of the certification process, not only is protective clothing tested for its resistance to specific substances but physical material properties and wearer comfort are also considered.

Protective clothing certified by DIN 32781 can be labeled with the pictogram of a conical flask with two leaves. In this case, the standard is indicated but not a classification.

Type 3 or 4 protective clothing in accordance with optimal protection for individual hazardous areas, the European Union has defined harmonized standards for different protection classes (types) for chemical protection.

  • Read the Pesticide Product Label
  • Use Personal Protective Equipment
  • Choose the Right PPE
  • Use Protective Clothing
  • Protect Your Head, Eyes, and Hands
  • Protect Your Lungs