by Roger Bryan

I’ve written a number of articles for Basal Breaks, most often dealing with rose garden pesticides and their application by spraying. In these articles I’ve always advised the folks using the pesticides to Read the Label of any product they apply. Once again, in this article, that advisory remains applicable insofar as I’m going to focus on the first several paragraphs of any pesticide label, i.e., those paragraphs addressing toxicity and associated safety precautions. Every label shows the toxicity of the product, expressed as a signal word, immediately following or adjacent to the product’s trade name. Some familiar examples are: Daconil Ultrex/Danger, Banner Maxx/Warning, and Zyban/Caution, with Danger signifying the most toxic and Caution the least. Following the specification of toxicity, the labels always contain several paragraphs headed by the title: Precautionary Statements, and this article is derived from these paragraphs.

Among the precautionary statements are:

First Aid Recommendations – what to do if the product is swallowed or inhaled, or if the product gets in the eyes or on the skin.
User Safety Recommendations – for example, washing hands immediately after applying the product and changing into clean clothing.
Environmental Hazards – warnings such as “this product is toxic to aquatic invertebrates…” or “this chemical can contaminate surface water…”
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) – recommendations regarding the clothing to be worn while applying and/or handling the product and identification of any other protective equipment required to assure the safety of the product’s users.

I’m limiting this article to just a discussion of PPE, which for the most toxic products, i.e., those with the signal word Danger, are listed as:

Long-sleeved shirt and long pants
Chemical resistant gloves
Shoes plus socks
Protective eyewear, and a
Dust/mist filtering respirator

For products having Warning as their signal word, the list usually does not include the respirator. And for products with a Caution signal word the PPE list most often contains only the first three items. Rosarians probably all own long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and shoes and socks – just be sure the clothing is all reasonably non-porous and expendable. Hence, the balance of this article deals with types and sources of gloves, eyewear, and respirators.


First some don’ts: Don’t wear cotton, leather or canvas gloves, don’t wear lined gloves,  and  don’t depend on waterproofing to be chemically resistant. Do use gloves made from butyl, nitrile, neoprene, or natural rubber or from polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or viton plastics – or from combinations of these rubbers  and  plastics. One of the most popular  and  readily available types of gloves are those made from blue nitrile such as the unlined, 15-mil gloves made specifically for chemical h  and  ling  and  available from Gemplers ( for $2.65 a pair. A lower cost but less durable glove is available from Rosemania ( which offers disposable nitrile gloves at $19.95 for a box of 100.

Protective Eyewear

Here’s some inspiration for using protective eyewear when applying chemicals like Daconil Ultrex – the label clearly states that it “causes irreversible eye damage” -- note the word irreversible. Now, there are three basic types of protective eyewear: safety glasses, chemical splash goggles,  and  full face shields. Safety glasses provide only minimal protection  and  should be used only with the very least toxic products. A much better choice is a chemical splash goggle. An inexpensive model is available from the Global Stores Group ( which offers a chemical splash style goggle with indirect ventilation for $1.65. Suitable, but more expensive, goggles may also be purchased from Gemplers  and  Rosemania, among others. The important features to look for are chemical splash resistance  and  indirect ventilation.


Respirators are part of the  PPE  for use when applying pesticides with the signal word Danger. The specifications for the respirator are provided on the pesticide label within the  PPE  list. For example, the Daconil Ultrex label requires “…a dust/mist filtering respirator (MSHA/NIOSH approval number prefix TC-21C) or a NIOSH approved respirator with any N, R, P,or HE filter.” The National Institute of Occupational Safety  and  Health (NIOSH) updated testing requirements in 1995  and  the result was a change in approval numbers from TC-21C to TC-84A – respirators that meet TC-84A are available from Gemplers as the Moldex 2300 N95 Respirator which sells for $27.30 for a box of 10. Similar N95/TC-84A filter/respirators made by 3M are available from Grainger ( for $24.00 for a box of 10.

Head/Face Protection

One last thing to consider when spraying your rose garden is the protection of your face from blowing spray. A portion of your face may be covered by goggles and a respirator mask, but that still leaves your forehead, ears, etc. exposed. Once again, Gemplers offers a selection of hoods and hats all for under $10.00. For example, a Low-cost Chemical Hood is available for $7.95, and a Tyvek Respirator Hood (which includes a full face shield that eliminates the need for any other eye protection) is offered at $6.25.

I’ve offered a few alternative sources for  PPE  . Certainly you can find other suppliers by using the Google online search engine on the Internet. Or, try browsing through your local garden supply or hardware store. Protect your body while you protect your roses  and  don’t forget: Read the Label!