Lawn care and landscape professionals speak out

OKIE LAWNS: “The concern for health issues in regard to spraying has me re-thinking the PPE I wear while spraying. I follow my labels and use gloves, boots, socks, jeans and long sleeve shirt. Do you wear face mask, respirators, etc. while spraying? Have you considered it?”

Hineline: “Never have, but I have to hold my breath sometimes. I don’t like to do it because I don’t want to freak out my customers or the neighbors.”

phillie: “I don’t wear a respirator if the label says nothing about one. There is a fine line between protecting yourself and scaring the public. If you need to wear a mask it would be on the label.”

VARMIT COMMISSION: “I wear a respirator. You and I know that the average wind in Oklahoma is 15 mph. Tomorrow it is 30 to 35, yesterday gust to 33. In the perfect little world we would wait for the perfect conditions then spray. But, every one of us are out there everyday spraying. That fine little mist you feel every once in a while hit your face, well it is being deposited in your lungs. I have never had a customer ask why or freak out or cancel service because I wear a mask. Heck, before I started wearing one customers would tell me all the time, ‘You shouldn’t be breathing that stuff all day long.’ Snorting Barricade, Gly, 24-d, Li-700, Dye, Surfractant all day long, I don’t care what the label says, if it’s not good for you its bad for you.”

phillie: “How are you sure you haven’t lost customers from it? Most customers wouldn’t tell you they didn’t go with you because of it. Yes, those droplets have hit most of our faces, but just like most labels say, you should wash it off. Not due to inhalation but due to absorption. Customers that don’t know any better will say you should be wearing one all the time, it doesn’t mean they know what they are talking about. You’re the professional, not them. If you feel better wearing a respirator then do it, but if it were a serious concern it would be on the label.”

DA Quality Lawn & YS: “I have thought often about this. Number one, it isn’t on too many pesticide labels, the need to wear a respirator. Number two, those things have to be hot as blazes in the summertime. Number three, yes, you do stand to scare your customers: ‘He’s wearing a space suit mask, what he is spraying must be next-to lethal.’ Number four, on the flip side, yes, you do get some fine mist in your face, even on a ride-on, what are the long-term effects of that?”

Plantculture: “I wear one quite a bit. I spray a lot of hedges and it is impossible to be perfectly downwind all the time or sometimes spraying a 15-foot-tall hedge that’s 10 feet from a building. I firmly believe there are situations where wearing a respirator is necessary, even though the label does not list it. I wear the 3m 7502. It’s more comfortable than I would have thought, and easy to get on and off.”

Hineline: “Spraying hedges and trees is different, that’s for sure. I would wear as much protection as possible. When I sprayed on golf courses, I always wore a respirator and spray suit because drift was unavoidable at times and you just couldn’t escape and spray fairways and greens accurately.

“I’m sure everyone knows to check for wind direction and spray and do your turns so you are always traveling upwind if at all possible.”

BchBum: “Not 100 percent sure, but I think in Oklahoma it’s law to wear a mask. I rarely do unless I feel it hitting me in the face a lot on windy days.”

gebby: “I have all the PPE. I do use it all when the need comes up. I have to be careful not to look like I’m landing on the moon. I spray around food stores, so you got to be careful what you spray, where, and how much it smells, and, oh yes, what you look like. I find myself spraying downwind and holding my breath very often.”

VARMIT COMMISSION: “If it is windy, I will also wear chemical chaps that protect my legs up to the waist. I spray round one with dye. You would be surprised how much dye I wash off the chaps after a day of spraying. I would much rather it be on the chaps than on my jeans, above my rubber boots in contact with my skin all day.”

greendoctor: “I do if it is trees and shrubs. A high-pressure gun or spray wand presents a greater hazard than properly set up lawn booms. I also do if I am hand-gunning herbicides into tall brush. Otherwise, what is applied into a lawn is not supposed to be drifting. If it is, you have more to worry about than inhaling it. Think about what that drift is going to contaminate and/or kill.”

grassman177: “Only when required, which is only for my shrub and tree chems it seems.”

OKIE LAWNS: “Thanks for all the input. It is not nearly as much of a concern to me what my customers ‘think’ about my PPE, as getting cancer later on down the road, or other issues. I, like said above, had many customers express concern over spraying without a respirator … Most of the time, I don’t get the mist that hits me in the face, but occasionally you get in an area where the wind is swirling in the alleyways between houses and you can feel the mist hit you. I just don’t want that stuff in my lungs or absorbing in my skin if there are ways to prevent it.”