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Publication #PI-165

Protecting Your Eyes from Pesticide Exposure1

Frederick Fishel2

Figure 1. 

Example of a label's eyewear protection statements

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Vision is one of our most important senses, and eyes are very sensitive to chemicals contained in some pesticide formulations. Eyes readily absorb pesticides (ocular exposure); therefore, some product labels require handlers to wear protective eyewear. The statements regarding eye protection and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are generally found in the label's “Precautionary Statements” section (Figure 1).

Some products do not require handlers conducting certain activities -- such as applying diluted pesticides -- to use protective eyewear. Labels on such products may indicate, however, protection is necessary for handling concentrates. Other products may require protective eyewear for all uses. Keep in mind that prescription eyeglasses and other eyeglasses do not offer protection from ocular exposure to pesticides.

Some labels will explain in detail the exact type of protective eyewear that should be worn. Satisfactory protective eyewear for handling pesticides generally is of three types:

      • Shielded safety glasses,

      • Goggles, and

      • Full faceshields.

Shielded safety glasses (Figure 2) and full faceshields (Figure 3) are good choices in many situations because these protective devices are relatively comfortable, do not cause fogging and sweating, and they provide adequate protection.

Figure 2. 

Shielded safety glasses

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Figure 3. 

Full faceshield

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Faceshields that are cupped inward, towards the throat, give better protection from splashes than straight faceshields.

Safety goggles are available in several models (Figures 4 and 5) and are appropriate in various situations, including making airblast applications from an open cab, flagging aerial applications, applying fogs and mists indoors, and other enveloped situations.

Figure 4. 

Goggles are available in several styles

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Figure 5. 

Goggles are available in several styles

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Safety goggles that are vented will help protect against fogging. Three variations in venting are available:

      • Open vents for impact protection only,

      • Indirect vents for splash protection, and

      • Non-vented for protection from mists and fumes.

Either goggles or shielded safety glasses can be worn with a half-face respirator (Figure 6). Full-face respirators are supplied with their own faceshields, so additional eye protection is not required (Figure 7).

Figure 6. 

Safety goggles worn with a half-face respirator

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Figure 7. 

Full-face respirator provides eye protection

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Pesticide labels that list eye protection in their PPE statements and pertain to the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) require that at least 1 pint of emergency eyeflush water be immediately accessible for each pesticide handler. Eyewashes can be portable in several forms, such as clean water and special formulated solutions (figures 8 and 9). Eyewashes can also be available in a fixed location, such as an eyewash station (Figure 10) in a convenient place.

Figure 8. 

Portable eyewash to meet WPS requirements

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Figure 9. 

Portable eyewash to meet WPS requirements

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Figure 10. 

Plumbed eyewash station

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Because some pesticides are corrosive or cause eye irritation within seconds, consider carrying eyewash with you when handling such pesticides.

Additional information

Fishel, F.M. 2006. Worker Protection Standard: Decontamination Supplies. UF/IFAS Extension EDIS Publication PI-116 (

Fishel, F.M. 2006. Worker Protection Standard: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). UF/IFAS Extension EDIS Publication PI-119 (

Fishel, F.M. and O.N. Nesheim. 2007. Pesticide Safety. UF/IFAS EDIS Extension EDIS Publication FS11 (

Fishel, F.M., O.N. Nesheim, and T.W. Dean. 2007. The Worker Protection Standard. UF/IFAS Extension EDIS Publication PI19 (

Florida Poison Information Center Network (1-800-222-1222 or ). Visited April 2008.

National Pesticide Information Center (1-800-858-7378 or ). Visited April 2008.

Nesheim, O.N., F.M. Fishel, and M.A. Mossler. 2005. Toxicity of Pesticides. UF/IFAS Extension EDIS Publication PI-13 (



This document is PI-165, one of a series of the Agronomy Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date July 2008. Reviewed April 2011. Visit the EDIS website at


Frederick Fishel, associate professor, Department of Agronomy, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.