Is pest control safe? The safety of pest control will depend on how the pesticide is handled. Whether you’re applying the pesticide on your own or calling professional pest control services, there are things you need to know and steps to follow which are detailed below.
Are Pesticides Safe?
Dangerous to Living Things
Pesticides are very effective in killing pests in your home, and that’s because these products contain strong and toxic chemicals. However, that also means that pesticides can be very harmful to humans and household pets.
Pesticides are especially dangerous to babies and children because their kidneys have not yet fully developed and they won’t be able to remove toxic chemicals from pesticides in their body. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also be careful about exposure to pesticides as it can be passed down to their offspring.
Some Are More Harmful
There are several types of pesticides: insecticides, which target insects; rodenticides, designed to kill mice and rats; bactericides, which targets bacteria; fungicides, designed to kill fungus; and herbicides, which kills weeds and other unwanted plants.
Not all pesticides are the same; some can be more harmful than others depending on their concentration and strength. That’s why it’s important to read the signal words on the label to see if a pesticide has low toxicity (Caution), moderate toxicity (Warning) and high toxicity (Danger).
Exposure to Pesticides
Skin contact, inhalation and ingestion are the three main ways you can be exposed to the harmful effects of pesticides. Accidental splashes or mist can get on your skin or eyes while you’re mixing or applying pesticides in your home.
Pesticide residue from surfaces, equipment and clothing can also transfer onto your skin. Meanwhile, powder or vapor can be inhaled through your lungs. Pesticides can become ingested if you forget to wash your hands after applying them. There are also instances of children or pets accidentally ingesting pesticide placed in unlabeled plastic containers.
Possible Effects of Exposure
Exposure to pesticides can lead to mild, moderate or severe poisoning, depending on the toxicity level. Your body’s reaction can also be immediate while other side effects may present itself in the next few hours or even days. Sweating, headaches, nausea, dizziness, thirst, weakness, skin and eye irritations are some of the mild side effects of pesticide exposure.
Meanwhile, moderate side effects include abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, vomiting, loss of appetite, restlessness, and insomnia. The side effects of pesticides can also be quite severe as you might experience fever, convulsions, loss of body movement and reflexes, muscle spasms, unconsciousness, difficulty breathing, and a rapid heart rate.
Studies have also shown that long-term exposure to pesticides has been linked to more serious conditions such as cancer, leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, reproductive and fertility issues, neurological problems, birth defects, and fetal death.
While the danger associated with pesticides can be very scary and troublesome, these products can be used safely. It’s important to be aware of the side effects so that you know just how important it is to take the necessary precautions when handling, storing and using pesticides.
Are Pest Control Services Safe?
Now that you know the risks of pesticide exposure, what about the risk of calling in pest control services to fix your pest infestation problem? There are several reasons why you should consider calling in the pros.
Why Call the Pros?
One of the most important reasons is because they are legally allowed to handle and apply pesticides. In the U.S., pest control businesses need to get their permits and certifications. In other countries, pest control applicators should have a license. It’s not just about the piece of paper, too. The certificate or license proves that the pest control company knows and uses only the best and safe pest control practices. Here are the other reasons to call pest control services:
- Knowledgeable of different types of pests, habitats, and how to eradicate them
- Creates the best pest management plan for your infestation problem
- Knows the best ways to handle pesticides
- Gives homeowners and other clients the best tips and advice to prevent pest infestation
- Able to answer questions about pest infestations
Tips to Ensure Safety
Now hiring a pest control company doesn’t 100% guarantee safety because there are still other factors to consider. What happens before, during, and after the treatment are just as important. So if you’re hiring a professional to do it, here are some tips to increase the likelihood of a safe pest control session:
- Talk to the pest control applicator about the pesticide to be used so you can prepare ahead of time. Let the company know about health concerns you might have as well, such as pregnancy, allergies, and etc. so they can find the best treatment option.
- Cover everything that can be exposed to the pesticide such as plates, toothbrushes, toys, cooking utensils, etc.
- Stay away from the premises for four to six hours. Keep the pets away, too.
- If the pesticide is applied outdoors, make sure all windows and doors are shut.
- If the pesticide is applied indoors, open the windows and doors immediately once you return home. Also, don’t just rely on the covers. Wash and clean everything again prior to using them, especially those you use to eat with.
It is vital to book for your pest control appointment ahead of time as this will give you more time to plan ahead. How are you going to cover the things? Where will you relocate your pets? What’s the best treatment option for your home? And by the way, you also have to notify your neighbors about it as soon as you can. They will have to make their own preparations, too, especially if the treatment is outdoors. Is you are looking for a an easy way to find a pest control company check out our search tool.
How to Use Pesticides Safely
If you want to successfully eliminate pests that have infested your home, and at the same time ensure the safety of your family and pets, it’s important to remember these necessary steps and precautions when dealing with pesticides.
Step 1: Buy the Right Pesticide
First and foremost, make sure you are getting your pesticides from a trusted source. It might be safer to get pesticides from your local grocery store than from an online store that doesn’t offer any safety guarantees.
When choosing between pesticide products, make sure to read the labels properly. This will help you determine if a specific product is designed for the pest that you want to target. Also, since there are hundreds of different pesticides in the market, try to look for one that has the least toxic chemicals. Some of the newer pesticides are odor-free and don’t leave any residue. You may also want to check out the EPA consumer alert website for recent recalls and safety warnings on pesticides.
Step 2: Always Read the Label
Before using pesticides, don’t forget to read and follow the instructions indicated on the bottle. You should also wear protective clothing and have the necessary gear such as gloves, respirators or masks, goggles, and boots.
Another important step is to make sure that the area you are treating with pesticides is clean. Remove food that is stored in this area and make sure they are placed in the refrigerator or in secure containers. This is to prevent your food from getting contaminated with pesticide particles.
Likewise, secure personal belongings that might be in the area, especially those that are frequently used, such as kitchen tools, toys, or appliances. Make sure they are a safe distance from the treated area.
Step 3: Carefully Apply the Pesticide
When it’s time to apply the pesticides, avoid transferring the product into containers that you personally use for food or drinks. Also, avoid using your personal utensils to prepare the pesticides. If you must transfer the pesticides into other containers, make sure they are properly labeled.
Open windows to make sure that the area is well-ventilated. Avoid eating, drinking or smoking when applying pesticides. You should also have paper towels, sawdust/sand or other absorbent materials in case of pesticide spillage. Having these materials within reach allows you to clean the area immediately and prevent the spill from affecting a large area of your home. Keep children and pets outside of the house until the pesticides are dry.
Step 4: Clean Properly
After you’re done treating the pest-infested area, wash your hands thoroughly before engaging in other activities. You might also want to shower and change your clothes to ensure that there will be no contamination. Properly dispose of all the leftover pesticides, containers, and equipment you used when mixing and applying pesticides.
Step 5: Store Pesticides Properly
Last but not least, your pesticide bottles should be stored properly. They should be kept in a safe and secure location that is out of the reach of children and pets. Also, make sure that all the bottles are tightly sealed to prevent contamination or accidental spills further. If possible, consider not storing pesticides in your home in the first place or at the very least, storing them in large quantities.
Since pesticides are easily accessible, you can just run to the store to purchase them when needed. Not having pesticides at home eliminates the possibility of accidental exposure.
What to Do If You Are Exposed to Pesticides
Even with all the necessary precautions, it’s still possible to accidentally expose yourself, your family members or your pets to pesticides. This is why it’s important to read the labels on the pesticide container. Follow first aid instructions indicated on the bottle.
Other safety measures include determining how someone was exposed to the pesticide. If it was through skin contact, make sure to wash the affected area with running water and soap. Remove any clothing that was exposed to pesticides. If the pesticide was inhaled, bring that person outside to get some fresh air. It’s also important to have Ipecac in your first aid kit in case of pesticide ingestion. If you don’t have Ipecac, you can try to induce vomiting naturally.
If pesticide exposure is severe and you already notice adverse side effects, do not hesitate to call emergency services or seek medical help as soon as possible. It’s better to be safe than sorry in this kind of scenario.
Preventive Measures and Safer Alternatives to Pesticides
Given the safety hazards of pesticides, it’s much better to keep your house clean so that you don’t have any reason to use them in the first place. Pest infestations happen in areas where there is minimal hygiene.
For example, do you have areas where stagnant water tends to pool? These areas are a breeding ground for bacteria, mosquitoes, and other insects. You might also be leaving out food scraps that tend to attract these pests into your home. If you have a compost, are you leaving it uncovered?
Making sure that these areas are taken care of will lessen the likelihood of pest infestations in your home. Make sure that all your food is stored properly, that leftovers are cleaned thoroughly, and that your garbage bins are tightly sealed. You can also set up barriers to prevent pests from entering your house and install fly screens on your doors and windows. You should also make sure that all gaps and crevices inside and outside your home are blocked.
In case that pest infestation is unavoidable, there are also safer alternatives you can choose. If you want to ensure the safety of your family and pets, you might want to consider a professional pest control service. Professionals know the best way to deal with these pest infestations. They also have access to more natural products and methods that would be a better alternative to the chemical-based pesticides that are commercially available.
On your own, you can also learn how to differentiate between different pesticide products in the market. Choose those that have less toxic content to lessen the safety hazards. This can be done through research or even by asking for advice from friends or professionals on which products they personally recommend.