Notice to Pesticide Applicators

— Written By and last updated by

Notice to pesticide applicators:

The EPA has given temporary exemption to its annual fit testing requirements due to the current COVID-19 public health emergency. A brief summary of their guidance is as follows:

  • Handlers who received an annual fit test during 2019 may continue to use that specific make and model of respirator.
  • Any physical change (weight gain/loss, change in facial features) that effects the seal between the face piece and the user’s face requires a fit-test be done.
  • Handlers need to conduct positive/negative seal checks any time a respirator is used.
  • In cases that handlers have been fit tested, a NIOSH-approved filtering face piece respirator (FFR) (e.g. N95 respirator) which they are unable to procure, they may use an alternative NIOSH-approved alternative recommended by the manufacturer to the FFR respirator the handler received fit testing for.
  • The KN-95 respirators are not NIOSH-approved and are therefore not currently allowed as an alternative to a respirator (e.g. N95 filtering face piece respirator) required on a pesticide label.
  • The annual respirator training is required by handler employers under WPS law.

The following is the complete guidance from EPA and is in effect until further notice:

EPA Statement Regarding Respiratory Protection Shortages and Reduced Availability of Respirator Fit Testing Related to Pesticide Uses Covered by the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard during the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency

If farms are not able to locate the respiratory protection they need, please reach out to the Agromedicine Institute. The institute may have the supplies you need or will reach out to Grainger and other state suppliers to try and locate them. You may also find the respirator decision tree helpful in deciding how to ensure appropriate protection.

Written By

Joanna Radford, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionJoanna RadfordExtension Agent, Agriculture and Natural Resources Call Joanna E-mail Joanna N.C. Cooperative Extension, Surry County Center
Posted on Dec 18, 2020
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