American Association of Pesticide Safety Educators, Copyright 2018.
AAPSE is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Incorporated in the State of Washington.

American Association of Pesticide Safety Educators

Protecting Human Health and the Environment through Education

Respirators in Short Supply due to COVID-19?

Filtering face-piece respirator

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

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 elastomeric respirators (full or half-face), there may also be a shortage of particulate filters (N, P, R).

Plan ahead!

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

Get Advice!

    • In agriculture, ask your University Extension Office about alternative practices or products that don’t require as much PPE. Directory of Extension Offices here.
    • For structures and fumigation, consider working with NPMA or ASPCRO to meet your essential needs during the crisis.

    There is no accurate/up-to-date list of pesticide products that do/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. He or she may be able to connect you with local faculty who can recommend alternative products or practices.

      • For PSEP Coordinators, here is a sample email to connect with your Extension faculty about this issue.

      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.

        Pesticide Information Center Online (PICOL) for WA and OR – The search menu can find products by crop and pesticide type, and filter by target pest to seek out alternatives, and view current approved labels.

        Works with manufacturers to have 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 include common pests by crop, and a variety of pest management options.

        Search for federally-registered pesticides by crop, by pest/weed, and read labels online.

        A pdf version of this publication is available here.

        To share information and resources relevant to this topic, please contact Kaci Buhl at Oregon State University. She convened a group of 60+ 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 Pope-Brown (President), Faye Golden (President-Elect), and Betsy Danielson (Secretary).

        This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. © 2020 American Association of Pesticide Safety Educators (AAPSE)

        Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software