Play It Safe, Select the Right Gloves for the Job
June 6, 2008
When applying pesticides, always follow label instructions to ensure the safety of the applicator as well as non-target organisms and the environment. One of the most important aspects of the label is the personal protective equipment (PPE) required to prevent accidental pesticide exposure.
Pesticide labels usually list PPE such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, chemically resistant gloves, coveralls, boots, goggles, and respirators. Gloves are one of the most important pieces of PPE since handling often includes mixing, loading, and applying pesticides, all of which could potentially expose your hands to chemicals.
Buying the Right Glove
Choosing gloves depends on the type of pesticide and the application. In general, unlined, chemically resistant gloves made of neoprene, butyl, or nitrile, are best. Disposable gloves may be preferable to reusable gloves because they can be discarded after one use. Reusable gloves must be washed and carefully removed after use in order to prevent contamination of your skin or other areas, such as the interior of tractor cabs, that may contact the gloves. Reusable gloves also must be stored properly, whereas disposable gloves can be thrown away according to the label after a pesticide application.
You should avoid gloves with linings or gloves made of cotton as these materials absorb pesticides and are hard to clean. Latex gloves also should be avoided as they do not provide adequate skin protection.
Cuffs Extend Protection
Under normal circumstances, gloves should be worn under long-sleeves to prevent pesticides from running under the gloves. If working above the head, you can roll the glove tops into a cuff to prevent pesticides from running down the gloves and onto your forearms. You can buy reusable or disposable long-cuff gloves, but in this case, disposable gloves are probably the better choice.
If applying fumigants, you should be especially cautious about label directions for gloves. Some fumigants can penetrate rubber, neoprene, and leather, and can result in severe skin irritation if trapped or absorbed by the skin.
After finishing a pesticide application, remove and discard disposable gloves and then follow up by washing your hands with soap and warm water, especially before eating, smoking, or using the toilet. If using reusable gloves, wash the gloves with soap and warm water while still wearing them, then remove them and hang them out to dry. Follow this by thoroughly washing your hands before going about your daily activities.
For more details about gloves and other personal protective equipment see the UNL Extension NebGuide, Protective Clothing and Equipment for Pesticide Applicators (G758).
Pesticide Safety Educator