Pesticide handlers may have to use expired respirators or reuse N95 respirators due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to temporary guidance issued by EPA Monday.

Addressing the shortage of respirators, the agency said that before considering those options, growers or applicators must exhaust other options, including the use of alternative NIOSH-approved respirators that offer equivalent or greater respiratory protection than those required on the pesticide label.

Growers also should look to hire commercial applicator services that have enough respirators; try to use pesticides that do not require respirators; or delay pesticide applications “until another compliant option is available,” EPA said.

“It is imperative that pesticide applicators wear respiratory protection to protect their health when required by the pesticide product label,” the guidance says. “Use of respiratory protection is particularly important when mixing, loading and applying pesticides, because those occupational scenarios typically have the highest exposure potential.”

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