Lungs for Life

Respiratory Health

Agricultural workers are exposed to a variety of respiratory hazards that are potentially harmful to the respiratory system. Farmers are commonly exposed to low concentrations of these substances when performing numerous daily chores, with periodic high concentration exposures of certain harmful dusts or gases typical of many agricultural activities.


Personal Protective Equipment

Its essential to protect your lungs from airborne particles, contaminants and other harmful substances that you might breathe in.  Determining the right respirator to protect your respiratory system can be complicated.  The following resources are designed to assist with selecting the right respirator for the job. 

Looking for informational videos? Click here...



Air Quality Monitoring

Concentrations of harmful gases in the air can change quickly. You need to pay attention to levels of several harmful gases, particularly when agitating manure pits or other manure storage areas.


The 2015 revised Worker Protection Standard includes requirements related to respirators.  The new standard went into effect January 2017. 

EPA Worker Protection Standard Guidance


How to Comply with the Revised Worker Protection Standards for Agricultural Pesticides

This manual provides information to help you comply with the requirements of the federal WPS for agricultural pesticides.                                                                        
  • Respirator -requirements & record-keeping: Chapter 4 - page 68
  • Medical Evaluation: Chapter 4 - page 69
  • Exemptions for agricultural establishment owners: Chapter 6 - pages 90,91

Click here to view the revisions to the Worker Protection Standard on the EPA website.


neb wps


Worker Protection Standard for Agricultural Establishments  Nebraska Extension, EC3006 Index: Issued November 2016

This publication describes the federal Worker Protection Standard (revised 2015) to help owners or operators of agriculture operators determine if it applies to their business and provide information on how to comply. Key components of the revised standard are outlined including WPS labeling, basic duties of employers,requirements of agricultural owners and exemptions for agricultural owners and immediate family members. 

Information about the Worker Protection Standard and respirator use.                                   

Part of the new standard includes a requirement for a medical evaluation and respirator fit test  when using WPS –labeled products where the label “requires the use of a respirator." This includes particulate filtering facepiece respirators (formally known as dust/mist respirators) and cartridge respirators.  This new requirement applies to owners of agricultural establishments  - including family owned operations where family members are the only persons who work on the establishment.   



Medical evaluation information:                                                                                                     

A respirator may place a physiological burden on handlers that could cause injury if the wearer has certain health problems or medical conditions. A medical evaluation must be based on OSHA’s Part A of Appendix C to 1910.134.  A physician or other licensed health –care professional (PLHCP) can perform this  medical evaluation which includes completing a medical questionnaire or exam.  


Information from OSHA website regarding the requirements of a medical evaluation questionnaire can be found by clicking here.  The OSHA INFO Sheet also provides information on the requirements of the medical evaluation and for using the questionnaire.

Many local health providers including AgriSafe Network providers can perform Medical Evaluations. Click here to find an AgriSafe Network Provider in your area. 

 If you are not able to access a licensed health care professional who can perform a medical evaluation, 3M facilitates two convenient methods for employers to obtain medical evaluation of respirator wearers.

  1. On-Line Respirator Medical Evaluation - Web-based interactive questionnaire which provides immediate notification of the results
  2. Mail-In Respirator Medical Evaluation Service - a simple to use paper questionnaire

Download information about how to access 3M Medical Evaluation services here....
Or Contact 3M Technical Service:  800-243-4630 then press 111 for a Tech Representative.

Respirator fit testing information:                                                                                                       

The purpose of a fit test is to ensure that the respirator forms an adequate seal with the respirator users face so the respirator provides the intended protection.  The respirator user must be fit tested for each type of respirator specified by the pesticide product labeling which they will be using before using the respirator and every 12 months after that. The fit test must be conducted using the exact make, model, style and size of respirator that the handler uses. If any of that changes, the person using the respirator must be fit tested with the new respirator.

Fit testing must follow OSHA protocols. With respirators, one size does not fit all. Two fit-test methods are available to determine the correct fit for most tight-fitting face pieces. Qualitative fit test (QLFT) and  Quantitative fit test (QNFT).  

View this OSHA instructional video for more information on these two types of fit testing.

View this 3M video for a demonstration of fit testing methods. 

Fit Testing Guidance from 3M

Where is respirator fit testing available?                                                                          

Respirator fit testing can be obtained from a variety of organizations and companies. The availability of this service is different in each state and region. Examples of resources for respirator fit testing are:

  • Occupational Health Care providers who provide respirator fit testing for other industries.
  • AgriSafe Network providers who have received respirator fit testing training.
  • Pesticide Applicator Trainers may have a list of organizations in your area that provide this service.
  • 3M Representatives in your area may be able to provide this service or provide training on fit testing.
  • Health care providers in your region may provide this service or know of a local resource.
  • Industrial Hygienists  
Fit testing must follow OSHA protocols.  The person administering this test must be able to perform the test properly and recognize invalid tests.