Wearing a breathing mask called a respirator is the best way to protect yourself from breathing pesticides on farms.
Respirators give full protection against any harmful dust, droplets, or vapors. While in the farm working with pesticides workers are always in risk of inhaling the harmful spray.
You must avoid breathing any harmful dust, vapor, or mist as it can cause lot of trouble to your health. By wearing a high quality respirator you are always in the safer side.
When should I wear a respirator?
You must always wear a respirator anytime the pesticide label requires one.
A worker must wear a properly sealed respirator if the pesticide label says, “Avoid breathing vapor or mist.” Whenever there is a risk of inhaling any harmful gas, fumes, dust, vapors or mist, you must wear a respirator to get protection against these hazardous elements.
It is also recommended to wear other protective gears such as eyes protection glasses, gloves, and cloths.
What training do I need?
If you are wearing a respirator for the first time then you must know how to use it safely. You must know how to properly wear it on your face and how to get complete protection from it.
You can get training online or from any other institute and your training must tell when you need to wear a respirator and show you how to safely wear it. Training must tell where a respirator is helpful and where it is not.
You must be told about what the respirator can’t protect you against and when to use it and when not to use. Each time you wear a respirator it must fit your face nicely and should provide a proper seal around it.
You must go for the respirators that are approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Can anyone use a respirator?
Respirators are easy to use but in some cases few people can find it hard to breathe through these. Person with heart disease, lung disease, high blood pressure or a perforated eardrum may not be able to use respirators.
If you are handling a pesticide then you must do a check before you enter the field wearing a respirator. If you have any of these health problem then do not wear a half face respirator but go for a supplied air respirator.
You can ask your doctor if you can wear a half respirator with any of the health problem listed above.
If I have a mustache or a beard then also I can wear a respirator?
Wearing a respirator with beard, bushy mustache, or long sideburns can be riskier.
You may not get tight seal around your face as beard and busy mustache will leave a certain gap between the face and respirator and this will create a chance of inhaling outer gases, fumes, dust, etc without any filtration.
Though you can wear a respirator if you have very light beards or trimmed mustache on your face. Always check for the tight seal around your face when you wear a respirator and then only enter the field.
How can I tell if my respirator is working?
Respirators filter out hazardous air particulates and provide fresh air to breath. They stop harmful chemicals, fumes, mist, vapors, and gases from getting into your lungs.
Half face respirators have filters attached to them and they will not let the pesticide to pass through them and you will only breathe fresh air in.
These respirator filters usually work for around 40 hours of use and you should replace them after this time frame or when you find it hard to breathe through them after several hours of use.
You should leave the area when you notice a smell or taste, and if your eyes or throat burn.
How do I get the right respirator?
Many respirators are available in the market to protect you from different dangers. To get protection from pesticides always read the pesticide label and then choose the right respirator.
You should wear a full face respirator if its recommend to protect your eyes and skin. Half face respirator will provide you protection from inhaling harmful gases and you should wear an eye protecting glasses when wearing a half face respirator.
In some cases when the hazardous level is too high with pesticides then you must wear a full face respirator or wear a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). Respirators come in different shapes and sizes and you should only choose the one that provides tight seal to your face.
You must be trained how to check your respirator fit. If you find any leakage in your respirator then immediately leave the contaminated area and got to safe area. Check the reason for this leakage and do necessary things to fix it.
Check if the filters require replacement or if the respirator is it torn or worn out. As many pesticides do not have a smell or cause irritation, you must timely replace the filters.
Usually filters should be changed after 40 hours of use.
The filter must be replaced
- After 40 hours of use
- when directions on the pesticide label say so
- when you first notice smell, taste or irritation
Always remember respirators only protect you from breathing chemicals and you should also wear other protective gears like eye protective glasses, gloves and cloths.
How to take care of respirators?
Usually respirators last very long but it’s the filters that need to be changed on regular basis.
If in case your respirator is broken then you must replace it with a new one. Never use a torn or broken respirator. Respirators need to be properly cleaned after each use and you should always inspect it regularly before wearing it.
You should never use someone else’s respirator without cleaning and disinfecting it first.
Respirators should be stored in a clean and dry place in properly sealed bag. They need to be protected from dust, sunlight, and big changes in temperature. Always keep the respirators away from pesticides.