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Keep Your Hands Protected When Working With Insecticides!

When working with insecticides, the first step is to always read the label before handling the product. What’s next? Always wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling the product, which includes wearing the appropriate chemical resistant gloves.

The product label will always inform the user what glove material is necessary for safe handling of the product. But why do you even need gloves? Dermal exposure (through the skin) is the most common route of insecticide exposure. If you handle insecticides while not wearing gloves, you expose the skin on your hands along with anything else you might touch later. For this reason, gloves should always be worn when handling insecticide containers, mixing or loading, and maintaining the sprayer. Gloves should always be readily available when working with insecticides.

Glove Selection

One common misconception is that all chemical resistant gloves provide the same amount of protection from insecticide products. This isn’t true because not all chemical resistant gloves are the same thickness (i.e., measured in mils and present on the container) and different materials have different levels of resistance to different products. In most cases, the active ingredient isn’t what causes differences in glove resistance, but the inert ingredients present in the products. Table 1 lists the various materials that are recommended for use when handling chemicals with the associated solvents present in them. It is important to note the level of resistance that is listed for each glove type. It’s also important to note that all of the ratings in Table 1 are based on a minimum glove thickness of 14 mils, which is approximately 8 mils thicker than most nitrile gloves that are available at most hardware and general stores.

Always read the PPE section of the product label to ensure that you are selecting and wearing the appropriate gloves for the chemicals that are being handled. Table 2 provides glove recommendations for insecticides that are commonly used in South Dakota.

Table 1. Glove Chemical Resistance: Category Selection Chart 1

Type of Glove Material
Solvent Category
(On label)
Barrier Laminate Butyl Rubber* Nitrile Rubber* Neoprene Rubber* Natural Rubber* Poly-
ethylene
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)* Viton*
A
(dry and water based forumations)
High High High High High High High High
B
(acetate)
High High Slight Slight None Slight Slight Slight
C
(alcohol)
High High High High Moderate Moderate High High
D
(halogenated hydrocarbons)
High High Moderate Moderate None None None Slight
E
(ketones, such as acetone)
High Slight High High Slight None Moderate High
F
(ketone and aromatic petroleum distillates mixture)
High High High Moderate Slight None Slight High
G
(aliphatic petroleum distillates, such as kerosene, petroleum oil, or mineral oil)
High Slight Slight Slight None None None High
H
(aromatic petroleum distillates, such as xylene)
High Slight Slight Slight None None None High

1 This table was adapted from the EPA Chemical Resistance Category Selection Chart for Gloves.

* These material ratings are based on gloves that are greater or equal to 14 mils in thickness Natural rubber includes natural rubber blends and laminates.

Table 2. Glove recommendations for insecticides *

Insecticide Solvent Glove Material
( ≥ 14 mils)
Lorsban Advanced Petroleum distillates Barrier laminate
Viton
Cobalt Advanced Petroleum distillates Barrier laminate
Viton
Baythroid XL Aromatic petroleum distillates Barrier laminate
Viton
Leverage 360 Not listed Barrier laminate
Butyl rubber
Nitrile rubber
Neoprene rubber
PVC
Viton
Brigade 2EC Xylene Barrier laminate
Viton
Dimethoate 4E Petroleum distillates Barrier laminate
Butyl rubber
Nitrile rubber
Viton
Malathion 57% Petroleum distillates Barrier laminate
Butyle rubber
Nitrile rubber
Viton
Stallion Petroleum distillates Barrier laminate
Butyle rubber
Nitrile rubber
Viton
Mustang Maxx Petroleum distillates Barrier laminate
Butyle rubber
Viton
Warrior II Petroleum distillates Barrier laminate
Viton
Karate Petroleum distillates Barrier laminate
Viton
Endigo ZC Petroleum distillates Barrier laminate
Viton
Besiege Alcohol Barrier laminate
Butyl rubber
Nitrile rubber
Neoprene rubber
PVC
Viton
Lannate LV Halogenated hydrocarbons Barrier laminate
Butyl rubber

 

* This list is not meant to be comprehensive. Always read and follow the instructions in the label.

Material Ratings

The ratings for the types of materials are explained below:

  • High: Glove materials with this rating are highly resistant to the associated solvent. These types of gloves should be cleaned or replaced at the end of each use or end of the day. They should still be rinsed off at rest breaks to reduce the potential for exposure.
  • Moderate: Glove materials with this rating are moderately resistant to the associated solvent. These types of gloves should be cleaned or replaced within 1-2 hours of exposure.
  • Slight: Glove materials with this rating are slightly resistant to the associated solvent. These types of gloves should be replaced within 10 minutes of exposure.
  • None: Glove materials with no rating have no resistance to the associated solvent. These should not be used.

Of the different materials available for gloves, barrier laminate gloves (Figure 1) are highly resistant to all of the listed solvents. Although nitrile rubber (Figure 2) and butyl rubber (Figure 3) gloves are not highly resistant to all products, they are less expensive and can be cleaned to maintain their function. In some cases, it is recommended to wear a barrier laminate glove as a liner to a butyl rubber or nitrile rubber glove. This will ensure proper protection from exposure while minimizing the risk for glove failure due to a tear.

White glove made out of barrier laminate material.
Figure 1. Example of a barrier laminate glove. Courtesy: Adam Varenhorst
Blue-green glove made out of nitrile material.
Figure 2. Example of a nitrile glove. Courtesy: Adam Varenhorst
Black gloves made out of butyl rubber.
Figure 3. Example of a butyl rubber glove. Courtesy: Uline

Cleaning

It is important to remember that highly resistant gloves need to be cleaned at least once per day; however, eventually the glove material will break down over time due to repeated exposure and use. For gloves that are slightly resistant to a product, the gloves need to be replaced after 10 minutes of use. Gloves that are considered slightly resistant to a product should not be washed after use. Throw them away!

To clean gloves that are highly resistant to a product, first rinse them under running water while still wearing them and wash the outside using hot soapy water. Never wash the gloves in a washing machine. Although washing the gloves will reduce contamination on the outside of the glove, some residues may still be retained inside the glove material. Always hang the gloves to dry after washing them. It’s important to always wear a separate set of clean gloves when hanging the gloves to dry.

Replacement

Even though proper cleaning and care of chemically resistant gloves can increase their longevity, eventually they will need to be replaced. In some cases, gloves will not show any evidence of damage, but they should still be replaced after several uses. Signs that gloves need to be replaced immediately include staining or color change, softening, swelling, or bubbling of the material, or when the gloves becomes stiff, cracked, jelly-like, or begin to noticeably leak. If a glove is leaking, immediately remove it and wash your hands in hot soapy water to remove insecticide residuals.

Disposal

When it’s determined that gloves need to be disposed of, there are a few recommended steps. If the glove is currently being worn, peel one glove off by grasping the cuff and then hold it in the gloved hand while peeling off the remaining glove. Both gloves should come off inside out. By taking the gloves off this way, the contaminated surface is on the inside, and reduces the likelihood of accidental exposure. Also, never pull the gloves off with your teeth! Before throwing the gloves away, it is recommended to cut the fingers off of the gloves. This reduces the chance of someone else using the contaminated gloves. Once the gloves are removed and thrown away, always wash your hands with hot soapy water to remove any remaining insecticide residue.