Individuals working in agriculture are exposed to many different respiratory hazards - dust, chemicals, animal dander, microorganisms, organic matter, mold, diesel fumes and more. As a result, respiratory disease is the leading illness among farmers. Let us help you protect your respiratory health and comply with respiratory protection regulations.


A dusty truck on a dirt road

Before starting the medical clearance and respirator fit test process, it is important to know what type of respiratory protection is required for the task that you, your workers and/or family members will be doing. For pesticides, you will find this information under the Hazardous Statements: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Section of the   product label (usually on page 1 or 2).

To select respiratory protection for other agricultural exposures,   click here.

Still not sure what type of respirator and/or cartridges are needed? Refer to the Know Your Respirators Card below or give us a call at 252-744-1008. A PPE Inventory Sheet will help you keep up with and re-order each type of PPE needed.


Medical clearance is required PRIOR to completing a respirator fit test by the US EPA for individuals subject to Risk Mitigation Measures for Soil Fumigants and the   Agricultural Worker Protection Standard and by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration when respirators are required by agricultural operations having more than 10 full-time employees. Although medical clearance is not required for other respirator use in agriculture, it is highly recommended.



A qualitative mask

EPA and OSHA require that a respirator fit test is completed prior to using a respirator and then once annually. If more than one type of respirator will be used, a fit test must be completed for each type of respirator. To avoid having to have multiple respirators and multiple fit tests, select the respirator that will provide the highest level of protection needed.

A quantitative mask

Respirator fit tests may be qualitative or quantitative.

The Institute is happy to conduct qualitative respirator fit tests for you, to help you identify a local provider or teach you how to conduct qualitative fit tests yourself. For more information, give us a call at 252-744-1008.



The Institute is happy to provide medical clearance, respirator fit tests and training for you. For more information, give us a call at 252-744-1008. For a list of other providers across North Carolina and adjoining states, see the   Provider List.


Purchasing Respirators

Respirators should not be purchased until after an individual has successfully completed the medical clearance and respirator fit test. To be in compliance with EPA and OSHA, the respirator purchased for the individual must be the same as the respirator listed on the individual’s respirator fit test card (i.e., manufacturer, model number and size).

There are a number of sources for purchasing respirators, cartridges and other PPE. Through a special arrangement with Grainger, individuals working in agriculture are able to purchase respirators, cartridges and other PPE at North Carolina state contract rates. To set up a Grainger account and take advantage of special pricing or to learn about other purchasing options   click here.



A woman tries on a mask

Thanks to the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services -Pesticide Environmental Trust Fund, farms and nurseries are eligible for a 50/50 cost share to help them comply with the respiratory protection requirements imposed by the EPA’s Worker Protection Standard. Cost share may be accessed in one of two ways:


Training, Cleaning & Storage

EPA requires that any individual using a respirator be trained in their native language prior to using a respirator. For more information on required training components   click here and a sample training documentation training form,   click here.

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