The "S" Word and Pesticides: Are they Safe?

Jeff White's picture
Submitted by Jeff White on Tue, 2015-08-18 09:34

The “S” word in the pest control industry is kind of like the “F” word in the English language.  It’s THE bad word.  Much of the pest control industry trains technicians to avoid using the word “safe” and discourages others from using it as well.  By avoiding it we ARE NOT suggesting that if used properly the products much of the pest control industry uses or those that you can buy over-the-counter aren’t “safe”, the word “safe” is too subjective.  Let me explain…

If I approached someone on the street and asked them if common, over-the-counter aspirin was safe to use, most would say “yes”.  Many of us use it regularly for all sorts of different ailments.  Between chasing two kids under five years old around and allergies, the bigger surprise is when my head doesn’t hurt.  So I would answer “yes” if you asked if I thought aspirin was “safe”.  But is aspirin “safe” if I take an entire bottle?  Obviously not.  Aspirin, and many other products that we put in our bodies every day are meant to be used as directed and if done so should pose little to no risk to the human body.  Notice in that sentence that I avoided the word “safe”.  That’s because if I use a product inconsistent with its directions it may not be “safe” and if I have an allergic reaction to a product it may not be “safe”.

Many of the pesticides the pest control industry uses and that you can buy on the shelf of many of your hardware stores fall into the same category.  Many of these products, if used in a fashion consistent with the label directions, should pose little to no risk to humans and other animals inside of a home. That’s not to say on occasion a small percentage of people have an abnormal reactions to a pesticide.  It happens just like when your doctor asks you if you have any allergies to medications when you get a prescription.  It is always recommended that if you know you have allergic reactions to different products, or you are just generally concerned about pesticides that you consult with your physician on what is going to be applied in and around your home.  Your pest control company should be able to provide you the SDS (Safety Data Sheets) for the pesticides they are proposing to use around your home and your doctor can comment on any precautions you should take beyond what is mentioned on the label.  Also, any pesticides you buy on the shelf of a store should have an SDS form located online that can be accessed through an online search.

Lastly, the only person that should be commenting on concerns that you have associated with pesticide use in your home is your physician.  Too many times I hear of pest control technicians, husbands, wives and other non-physician types giving advice on whether or not a product is “safe” for a concerned individual to be around.  Any information given to a concerned individual beyond what the label says should be provided by a physician.  Pest control technicians shouldn’t be giving medical advice the same way a doctor shouldn’t be giving advice on how to treat a bed bug infestation!


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