What is pesticide?
A pesticide is a substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest, or for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant. In general, a pesticide is a chemical or biological agent that deters, incapacitates, kills, or otherwise discourages pests. Pesticides are usually used to control weeds, insect infestation, and diseases. There are many different types of pesticides, and most of them are potentially toxic to humans, even those labeled as organic. Pesticides can have both acute and chronic health effects, depending on the amount of exposure and how the pesticide is absorbed. People who face the greatest health risks from exposure to pesticides are those who encounter them at work, in their home, or in their garden.
How to avoid the harmful effects of pesticides?
The most effective way to reduce the risk of exposure to pesticides is to use non-chemical control methods to reduce or eliminate pest problems. If pesticides must be used, it is important to use them with caution and to always wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE can help to reduce the potential for exposure to pesticides through the skin, eyes, mouth, and lungs.
Pic 1: There are risks in exposure of applying pesticides without PPE.
Risks of using pesticides
People who come into contact with pesticides typically work in the agricultural sector. At the time of mixing, pesticides are more concentrated, and the likelihood of injury is increased during this time. When applying the pesticides, toxic substances can enter the body of the pesticide handling workers through four routes of exposure including dermal (skin), ocular (eyes), ingestion (mouth) and inhalation (lungs). Especially skin contact is the most common cause of pesticide poisoning for agriculture workers. Therefore, the gloves and protective clothing must be considered when applying pesticides.
Which standard should be followed?
Proper protective clothing can protect the skin from spills and splashes when loading, mixing, and using pesticides. The clothing should meet the appropriate standard for handling pesticides. The latest harmonized standard for protective clothing against pesticides is EN ISO 27065. Before EN ISO 27065 was launched, there were no harmonized clothing standards in this area. In some cases, the German national standard DIN 32781 may be followed.
DIN 32781 has several methods for evaluating protective clothing against pesticides. These include the comfort and ergonomics, the fabric’s penetration resistance to commercial agricultural chemicals, and the physical requirements of the materials. The concept of EN ISO 27065 is similar, but it uses different test methods and adds seam joint defense capability. EN ISO 27065 has three protection levels: C1, C2, and C3, with C3 being the highest. The suitability test as part of EN ISO 27065 considers the material and seams of the protective clothing. The test classifies levels based on the physical and chemical properties of the materials and seam.
|C1||Level C1 is suitable for followup work. It can be used as the base protective clothing with additional PPE.||Material: Penetration < 40%
Seam: Penetration < 40%
Whole suit: No request
|C2||Level C2 is suitable for the protection required is higher than that provided by Level C1 protective clothing.||Material: Penetration < 5% / Repellency ≥ 80%
Seam: Penetration < 5% / Repellency ≥ 80%
Whole suit: Reduced spray test (Type 6)
|C3||Level C3 is suitable for diluted plant protection products and concentrated pesticides.||Material: Permeation, cumulative ≤ 1 µg/cm2
Seam: Permeation, cumulative ≤ 1 µg/ccm2
Whole suit: Spray test (Type 4)
Table 1: The EN ISO 27065 standard requirements for each level
Tips of reduce the risks while handling pesticides
Pesticides are chemicals used to control pests, but they can also be harmful to human health if notused properly. Still some workers choose not to wear protective clothing when handling pesticides.They may think the clothing is uncomfortable or wear wrong protective level PPE. But main reasonis that they believe the risks of handling pesticides are low. It is important to educate people aboutthe risks of handling pesticides and the importance of wearing protective clothing. Here are some additional tips to reduce the risks of handling pesticides:
- Choose low toxic pesticides or non-chemical control methods whenever possible.
- Read the label and follow all instructions before use.
- Use the appropriate PPE for the pesticide job. This includes gloves, goggles, a respirator, and protective clothing.
- Avoid contact with skin and eyes.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after handling pesticides.
- Store pesticides in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area and out of reach of children.
Pic 2: Well protect yourself when handling agriculture pesticides.