Respirators in short supply because of COVID-19?

American Association of Pesticide Safety Educators (AAPSE) Collaborative Effort

We anticipate a potential shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) this season, particularly N95 respirators, which are often known as “face masks.” For those that use full or half-face elastomeric respirators, there may also be a shortage of particulate filters (N, P and R).


Filtering face-piece respirator, N95 with elastic straps and NIOSH designation. Photo by Kim Brown

Plan ahead!

  • Pesticides may not be applied without the label-required PPE.
  • Homemade masks are not sufficient substitutes for label-required respirators or masks.
  • No exemption or relaxation of the requirements has been made by the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Users may need to select alternative products or practices if the required PPE is not available.

Get advice!

  • In agriculture, ask your university extension office, which includes the LSU AgCenter in Louisiana, about alternative practices or products that don’t require as much personal protective equipment. Find a nationwide directory of extension offices here.
  • For structures and fumigation, consider working with the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) ( or the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials (ASPCRO) ( to meet your essential needs during the crisis.

There is no accurate or up-to-date list of pesticide products that do or do not require respirators. There is no substitute for reading the label.

There is a lead educator in each state focused on pesticide safety education programs (PSEP). You can find your state’s PSEP coordinator here ( The coordinator may be able to connect you with local faculty who can recommend alternative products or practices.

  • For PSEP coordinators, there are documents to connect with your extension faculty about this issue on the AAPSE website (

Sleuthing tools: Hunting for alternative products and practices

Crop Data Management Systems (CDMS) works with key pesticide registrants, hosting their current labels and safety data sheets online.

The search menu at the Pesticide Information Center Online (PICOL) for Washington and Oregon can find products by crop and pesticide type. It can also filter by target pests to seek out alternatives and view current approved labels.

Agrian works with manufacturers to compile labels and other supporting documents. This search engine has a safety tab that lists the PPE requirements without having to search the label. The pesticide label can also be referenced.

Documents in the database include common pests by crop and a variety of pest management options.

Search for federally registered pesticides by crop or pest or weed and read labels online.

To share information and resources relevant to this topic, please contact Kaci Buhl at Oregon State University. She convened a group of 60-plus stakeholders in March 2020 and followed up with a select committee to share actionable information during a time of crisis. This information is provided for informational purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the views of all AAPSE members, or that of their respective employers.

*Thank you to these AAPSE committee members who answered a timely call to action: Carol Black, Nancy Fitz, Kim Brown (president), Faye Golden (president-elect), and Betsy Danielson (secretary).

4/24/2020 6:02:31 PM
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