Know the Symptoms

As our daytime temperatures climb into the 90s you may run into the following scenario: During a hot afternoon, an employee complains of headache, dizziness and fatigue. You immediately begin treatment for heat stress, including bringing the employee to an air conditioned room, applying cool compresses and offering water to drink.

You are taking the right action for heat stress, but have you made the correct diagnosis?

During a seminar at Sarasota County Extension, plastic surgeon and biochemist Dr. A.E. Haas noted that some symptoms of acute pesticide exposure mimic those of heat stress, including high body temperature, cramps, disorientation, convulsions and loss of consciousness. You should be aware of this if chemicals are applied in the workplace and take appropriate action if toxic exposure is suspected.

When seeking medical help, you must tell the doctor what has been used and when. Keep accurate records and learn all you can about the pesticides you work with by reading and understanding all parts of the pesticide label and keeping MSDS sheets on hand.

Dr. Haas, who is also a licensed private applicator, offered other useful tips:

  • Get the right mask for the job. A particulate mask for filtering dust will do nothing to protect against pesticide vapors. Make sure the mask fits properly.
  • Wear wrap-around eye protection. We instinctively turn our head to avoid sprays to the face and open sided glasses will not prevent exposure.
  • Do not use gloves with cloth liners. Any chemicals that make their way inside will soak in and contact the hands each time they are worn.

About Kathy

Urban Horticulture Program Assistant with UF/IFAS Extension Manatee County.
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