Insecticide exposure can impose serious health risks to the individuals working with insecticides. These risks can also impact those that do not directly work with insecticides. Families of insecticide applicators can be exposed when contaminated work clothes are laundered at home. For this reason, it is important to prevent insecticide exposure from occurring when laundering contaminated or potentially contaminated clothing.
In many cases, reading the insecticide label will provide the necessary information regarding the use of proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Insecticide labels list the minimum required PPE that must be worn while working with insecticides to reduce exposure. However, exercising caution when mixing and applying insecticides, performing routine maintenance of sprayers, or disposing of contaminated PPE can still lead to low levels of exposure to work clothing. Therefore, it is important to exercise caution when preparing and laundering clothing that was worn while working with insecticides or around equipment that is used to apply insecticides. Potentially contaminated articles of clothing should always be handled as if there is a 100% chance they are contaminated.
Changing & Handling
Even when label recommendations are carefully followed, work clothing will have some insecticide residues present. Clothing that is worn while working with insecticides should be changed as soon as possible. This will reduce the risk for exposure to the individual working with the insecticides and prevent potential contamination of personal vehicles and homes. In addition, when the clothing is removed, it should be placed into a sealable container that is clearly labeled “Insecticide Contaminated Clothing.”
When handling contaminated clothing, wear chemical resistant gloves that are rated as highly resistant to the insecticide that was applied. Lightly contaminated clothes should be laundered immediately, and only with other potentially contaminated clothing. Do not wash these clothes with the rest of the household laundry. As mentioned, these clothes should go into their own sealable container and should never be mixed with other laundry in a general hamper.
Washing & Drying
Wash the contaminated clothes in hot water using a highly concentrated or heavy-duty detergent. Once the clothes are washed, DO NOT place them into the dryer. Even after washing, there may still be insecticide residues present in the fibers of the clothes. The heat from the dryer will remove the residues, resulting in a contaminated clothes dryer. The clothes should be line dried instead. Before washing any other clothes, it is important to run the washing machine without clothes for a second cycle with detergent. This will remove any remaining insecticide residues.
In instances where insecticides were spilled onto clothes, remove them, and throw them away immediately. Although proper laundering can wash out small amounts of insecticide residue, laundering clothes with larger amounts may result in contamination of the washing machine, yourself, and others.