During the application of fumigants, it is critical to take necessary measures to protect yourself from exposure to restricted use insecticides. Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as PPE, is equipment worn to protect workers from exposure to hazards such as fumigants.
Protective clothing is necessary when using solid phosphine formulations.
Phosphine pellets and tablets. Image courtesy of Edmond Bonjour
Wear dry gloves of cotton, preferably, or other material if contact with pellets, tablets, or dust is likely to occur.
Wearing cotton gloves to apply pellets. Image courtesy of Edmond Bonjour
Gloves should remain dry during use. Do not use gloves to wipe sweat off your forehead or other body parts. Always wash hands thoroughly after handling phosphine products. Used gloves and other clothing that may be contaminated should be aerated in a well-ventilated area prior to laundering.
For cylinderized phosphine products, wear leather work gloves or leather-faced cotton gloves when connecting to or disconnecting cylinders from the dispensing equipment to prevent the potential for frostbite.
ECO2FUME Fumigant Gas and VAPORPH3OS Phosphine Fumigant
Always wear safety glasses when working with pressurized cylinders to prevent freezing or cryogenic burns to the eyes by rapidly evaporating liquid.
When using sulfuryl fluoride, do not wear gloves or rubber boots which could trap the liquid fumigant against your skin.
ProFume Gas Fumigant
Clothes or shoes that have become contaminated with liquid should not be reused until thoroughly ventilated. During the application, wear loose-fitting or well-ventilated long-sleeve shirt, long pants, shoes, and socks. Also, wear splash resistant goggles or a full-face shield during the introduction of the fumigant or when working around any lines containing the product under pressure.
Wearing full-face shield to release sulfuryl fluoride. Image courtesy of Edmond Bonjour
When handling compressed gas cylinders, it is recommended to wear steel-toed safety shoes because of the weight of the cylinders.
Respiratory protection is required when concentration levels of phosphine are unknown or when concentrations exceed permissible exposure limits of 0.3 ppm. A NIOSH/MSHA approved full-face gas mask phosphine canister combination may be used at phosphine levels above 0.3 ppm up to 15 ppm.
Full-face respirator with phosphine canister. Image courtesy of Edmond Bonjour
If the phosphine level is above 15 ppm or in situations where the phosphine concentration is unknown, a NIOSH/MSHA approved self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) must be worn.
Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).
If phosphine is to be applied from within the structure to be fumigated, an approved full-face gas mask, phosphine canister combination, or SCBA must be available at the site of application in case it is needed. Respiratory protection must also be available for applications from outside the area to be fumigated such as the addition of tablets or pellets to automatic dispensing devices and outdoor applications.
For sulfuryl fluoride, if the concentration in the fumigated area does not exceed 1 ppm, then no respiratory protection is required. When the concentration is above 1 ppm or when the concentration is unknown, wear a NIOSH approved positive pressure self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), approval number prefix TC-13F, or combination air-supplied/SCBA respirator. The SCBA must be at the fumigation location and operational before the fumigation begins. It is important to know how to use it correctly.
It is critical for the safety of workers applying fumigants that the correct personal protective equipment it utilized. Using PPE will make the grain facility a safer place to work.
(Photographs are intended for illustration purposes only and do not imply an endorsement or preference of these products.)
Safety Education is Critical for Grain Fumigators. E.L. Bonjour and C.L. Jones. 2020. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, Fact Sheet, EPP-7104
Edmond Bonjour is an Associate Extension Specialist – Stored Products Entomologist in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater. He can be reached at 405-744-8134 or email@example.com.