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How to get personal pesticide protection

June 29, 2008
By Marilyn J. Smith, For The Leader-Herald

The Cornell University College of Human Ecology Personal Pesticide Protection program is based on extensive faculty research that includes a broad spectrum of topics including surface modifications of fibers, compliance with the worker protection standard, decontamination of pesticide-soiled clothing, and children's exposure to pesticides.

It also is part of a USDA-funded regional research project, "Mediating Exposure to Environmental Hazards through Textile Systems,"

In the agricultural sector alone, an estimated 560,000 sites such as farms, forests, and greenhouses employ workers who are exposed to pesticides during their workday.

Add to that the number of homeowners who apply pesticides both outdoors and inside their homes and the number is even larger.

Individuals may harm themselves by coming into contact with these hazardous materials via their skin, lungs, eyes, or mouth.

Of additional concern is the possibility that they will bring the pesticides into their homes on their garments and shoes, exposing other adults and more importantly, vulnerable children.

Personal Pesticide Protection is an Extension program in the Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design.

It identifies ways to use personal protective equipment to reduce human exposure to pesticides and provides this information to appropriate audiences.

Training is offered to pesticide applicators through the Health Environmental and Pesticide Safety Education Program, Pesticide Management and Education Program at Cornell University. Consumers also need to be aware of gardening and lawn care hazards and protection; they can learn a great deal directly from materials on the Web.

Always Wear the Right Stuff slides, available in both English and Spanish, can be downloaded in pdf format and:

Explain the risk of handling pesticides;

Describe proper selection, use and storage of PPE;

Outline laundry procedures for clothing soiled with pesticides.

Personal Protective Equipment Guides help pesticide handlers/workers comply with the EPA Worker Protection Standard.

They cover topics that include heat stress; coveralls, gloves and other skin protection; chemical-resistant PPE; and protective eyewear.

While the primary focus is on the pesticide applicator, the same criteria apply for gardeners and others using pesticides around their homes. "Tips for Laundering Pesticide-Contaminated Clothing" is valuable to the general public and is available online. All of these educational materials are being used throughout the United States.

For more information or to access the materials, visit

Cornell Cooperative Extension in Fulton and Montgomery Counties offers resources for gardening, nutrition and health, youth development, and consumer and financial literacy. Visit the website at Or call 762-3909.



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