Determining the need for respirator use in pesticide applications in grapes.

With the current emphasis being placed on the new Worker Protection Standard (WPS) regulations, the regulations that seem to be getting the most attention are those surrounding the use of respirators and the need for respirator fit training.   A common question I have been getting is whether or not it is possible to grow grapes using materials that do not require the use of a respirator.  My first thought when asked that question is “why wouldn’t you want to protect your lungs, and potential future health by not wearing one” but that does not answer the question being asked.

The only way to accurately determine whether or not a respirator is required when mixing, loading or applying a pesticide – whether it be an herbicide, fungicide or insecticide, is to read the label for each product being used.  There are two main places on the label that will give you requirements for the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).  As shown in Figure 1, Precautionary Statements (typically found on the second page of a label) gives PPE requirements for mixing, loading and applying the pesticide while the Agricultural Use Requirements, Figure 2, will provide information on the required PPE for early entry by workers into treated areas as permitted by the WPS.  Notice that in both of these examples, no respirator is required for any activity involving the use of the pesticide.

Figure 1. Example of a pesticide label’s Precautionary Statement listing PPE required for its use.

Figure 2. Example of a pesticide label’s Agricultural Use Requirements statement on PPE required for early entry into a treated area as permitted by the WPS.

With all the generic materials out there now it would be impossible to determine the requirement for all the materials listed for use in grapes in New York and Pennsylvania.  However, in an attempt to start answering the question of whether or not grapes could be grown using pesticides without requiring a respirator, the LERGP team accessed the labels for all of the pesticides listed in the tables of Chapter 8, Pesticides for New York and Pennsylvania Vineyards in the 2017 New York and Pennsylvania Pest Management Guidelines for Grapes. The results can be found in the following three links.  But please remember… THE ONLY WAY TO DETERMINE THE NEED FOR A RESPIRATOR WHEN APPLYING A PESTICIDE IS TO THOROUGHLY READ THE LABEL.

New Worker Protection Standard Regulations Coming Your Way

If you were unable to attend the WPS meetings held on October 25 at CLEREL or on October 26 at the Niagara County CCE office in Lockport, you should take some time to review the documents that provide the information you need to become, or remain, compliant with WPS in your vineyard operation.

A great resource can be found at:

The EPA has produced this webpage to provide you with information, and links to more information, that is critical for you to have to ensure that you are compliant under the new WPS regulations.  The web page provides you access to:

  • What are the major changes for farmers and farmworkers?
  • What will these changes achieve?
  • What types of activities are covered?
  • When will these changes take place?
  • Videos on the WPS revision?

If you are just looking for what is new, this web page provides a link to a Comparison Chart of the current WPS and the new revisions under the Summary and Overview Materials on the Revised WPS section further down on the page.  A copy of that information can be found following this article.

If you don’t use a computer, or just want someone to tell you what is going on and answer your questions, you are in luck.  Sign up for the 2017 LERGP Growers Conference on March 15 at Fredonia State University.  Mike Nierenberg, Pesticide Control Specialist II with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation will be on hand to discuss WPS revisions.  In addition, James Carrabba, Agricultural Safety Specialist, will be at the conference to provide information on the new WPS regulations concerning respirator fit testing.

We expect seating to be limited and encourage you to sign up for the LERGP Growers Conference early to assure your seat.  On-line registration can be completed on our website at:   or give Kate a call at (716) 792-2800.