Most all of the corn seed and a significant portion of the soybean seed planted this year will have been treated with at least a fungicide, if not also an insecticide. When working with treated seed, it is important to keep in mind that you are working with not just seed but also a pesticide. It is in your best interest to take proper precautions to reduce your risk of pesticide exposure.
Although growers may be more familiar with checking an herbicide or insecticide label for the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to wear when handling a product, every bag of treated seed will also be labeled with the proper PPE to be worn when handling treated seed. Wearing the appropriate PPE will help reduce or prevent pesticide exposure when working with a pesticide or seed that is treated with a pesticide. PPE requirements can vary depending on the products used, but will typically include specifics about the type of clothing to be worn when handling treated seed. Products with a lower toxicity, for example, will require more minimal and/or general PPE compared to products with a higher toxicity.
It is important to note that exposure through the skin is the most common route of entry by pesticides – 97% of all pesticide exposures occur through the skin. To reduce potential exposure through the skin, several commonly-used seed treatment labels include language that “a long-sleeve shirt, long pants, shoes, and socks” are to be worn when handling treated seed. Check the seed bag label (or seed tag) for the specific PPE requirements of the treatments used on your seed.
Many seed bag labels also state that chemical-resistant gloves are to be worn when handling treated seed. Although wearing gloves can dramatically decrease the potential for pesticide exposure, glove use among growers is unfortunately not 100% when working with pesticides. For example, when attendees of the Private Pesticide Applicator Training sessions this winter in southwestern Minnesota were asked about glove use when mixing pesticides, 53% of the respondents indicated they wore gloves “all of the time”, while 31% indicated they wore gloves “most of the time”. Note, cloth gloves do not provide protection from pesticide exposure and leather gloves are not appropriate either as they cannot be properly cleaned.
The bottom line is to check the seed bag label to see what PPE you should wear when working with treated seed, and do what you can to reduce your exposure to the pesticides used. You can always wear more PPE than is listed on a label, and this is a good idea if you are in a situation where your exposure could be more than what would be considered “normal”.
Follow seed bag labels to prevent pesticide exposure to others as well: Seed bag labels will state that treated seed must not be used for food, feed or oil processing. Treated seed should also not be left on the ground surface as some products can be hazardous to birds and mammals, or may be toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates.
Page 2 of 2 -