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Skin safety against pesticides

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Pesticides can cause a range of skin diseases such as dermatitis, rashes and burns. They may be absorbed into our body, via the skin, entering the blood stream. Absorption into the body can lead to damage to the nervous system, endocrine system or even systemic poisoning which can lead to death. Pesticides can also cause asthma, hormone disruption, reduced sperm counts, infertility and multiple other problems.

Ansell have developed an interactive chemical handling website, Ansell Chemsafe, which confirms the most suitable glove for the chemical the user is handling, comprising over 150 different chemicals.

Ansell has also developed an educational booklet on agricultural chemical protection. The booklet focuses on the dangers associated with chemical exposure and contact occurring through the skin, respiratory system or through ingestion. Other free skin booklets are also available that focus on general hand and chemical protection.

In an independent study researchers analysed 55,332 farmers and nursery employees who worked with pesticides. It was found that the farmers and nursery employees studied had an unusually high risk of prostate cancer, likely due to their use of certain pesticides.

A US study has found that among the three most common pesticides used (dicamba, atrazine, and cyanazine), fewer than one in ten farmers used all of the required personal protective equipment. In some instances, over half of the farmers surveyed used no protective gear at all.

It is essential to:

* Never place contaminated hands in gloves

* Never wear leather, fabric, or fabric lined gloves

* Use gloves that extend at least to the mid-forearm

* Consider shoulder length gloves and chemical resistant sleeve guards when mixing and loading pesticides

* Do not reuse the same pair of gloves frequently

Steps to ensure the safe handling of pesticides include:

* Selecting the right glove polymer

* Select the right glove construction

* Select the right glove features

There is no universal glove that provides protection from each and every possible risk. Each pesticide and each application needs to be analysed to ensure critical, unique requirements are met. Farmers and pesticide applicators should exercise extreme care in the selection, maintenance and re-use of chemical resistant gloves.

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