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Are Pesticides Harmful to Humans and Pets? Here’s What to Know

pesticide safety comes down to how they are handled

The popular flea collar Seresto made headlines last summer when lawmakers urged the company to recall its collars after linking it to thousands of pet fatalities.

This prompted a nationwide discussion over the efficacy of flea collars and the pesticides used to manufacture them. While effective at preventing fleas and ticks, the dangerous side effects left many pet owners angry and confused.

Certainly, pesticides can be dangerous in instances of direct exposure, but their efficacy in treating home infestations, like bed bugs and preserving crop yields can’t be overstated.

As a result, the best way to protect oneself is by learning more about pesticides.

As professional exterminators who handle pesticides for a living, we can say that we wouldn’t be able to do our job without pesticides.

However, it’s important to discuss the proper handling of pesticides and outline the risks associated with their use so everyday homeowners can balance the risks of pest infestations with their chemical treatments.

Are Exterminator Pesticides Safe for Humans?

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to whether pesticides are safe. In many cases, professional handling of pesticides guarantees their safety and allows humans to resume dwelling in their homes after brief use.

On the other hand, direct exposure to these chemicals can lead to several harmful side effects, such as headaches, fatigue, nausea, and much worse.

Ultimately, pesticide safety comes down to how they are handled and our levels of exposure.

For these reasons, we’d like to list why pesticides are beneficial and safe for humans.

Ultimately, pesticide safety must be balanced against the health risks of pests themselves and tempered by whether or not pesticides are applied professionally or DIY. In the former case, we can ensure the safety of these chemicals and that the use of these products harms no one.

What Are Some Harmful Effects of Pesticides?

The harmfulness of pesticide exposure depends on their exposure rate and toxicity level. As we’ll illustrate later, some chemicals may be more toxic than others.

Ultimately, symptoms arise based on how exposure is made and for how long.

Topical Exposure


Other Symptoms

Cases of severe toxicity are extremely rare and almost always a result of DIY handling.

In many cases, exposure produces no symptoms. In fact, most studies show that people encounter or use at least one pesticide yearly without any effects.

How to Prevent Pesticide Toxicity

The danger of pesticides comes down to handling. Here are a few tips to help you prevent potential toxicity from mishandling products.

How to Prepare for Pest Treatment

With all of this information in mind, this leaves many people worrying about whether or not professional pest treatment or fumigation is safe. We can tell you it is, but if you’re still worried, there are several ways to prepare for treatment to limit potential exposure or risk.

Common Pesticides Used By Exterminators and Their Risk

Again, the level of toxicity will be different for every chemical pesticide and how much is applied. For example, the most common pesticides exterminators use include:

However, these pesticides should only be used by a professional.

For DIYers, the following are safer alternatives and ideas to rid your home of pests.

Safe Pesticide Alternatives for Pest Control

You can find a wide list of all-natural products for any category of insecticide or pesticide treatment with a little research.

Often, the most effective and safest method of pest reduction comes from prevention.

Ways to Prevent Pests Naturally

What Is Integrated Pest Management?

A special program known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM) has been developed for people weary of the environmental impact of pesticides. While IPM is mostly reserved for farmers, the same principles of IPM can be applied to gardens and homes.

Some of the principles of IPM include:

We highly recommend anyone who is dealing with pests in their home or garden to adopt these principles for safe management. However, in cases where professional assistance is required, the sooner a professional can get involved, the safer.

Cases When You Should Call a Professional Exterminator

While DIY methods may save money, they are not as effective or safe. In many instances, calling a professional exterminator is the best option to control and eliminate potential infestations before they threaten your health.

We recommend contacting your local exterminator immediately if you spot the following bugs:

Often, pesticides are the only safe and effective option to prevent these insects from spreading or causing further damage to your home.

In many cases, even professionally, the use of pesticides is seen as a last resort option. In such cases, a full-on pest infestation’s health risks often outweigh the health risks of pesticide usage.

However, by seeking professional help for pest treatment or pesticide use, you can greatly limit your risk of exposure to toxic chemicals and rest assured that these chemicals will be handled safely.

While pesticides are undoubtedly harmful, seeking professional help will ensure that they are of no risk to you or your family.

Pesticide FAQS

1. What are the most harmful pesticides for humans?

While not widely used by many in the industry, organophosphates, including chlorpyrifos and diazinon, banned since 2001, are considered the most toxic because they attack the nervous system. Other chemicals like boric acid and fipronil are considered moderately toxic but safe under proper handling.

2. What happens if a pesticide touches your skin?

Wash the affected area with water and soap. Discard any contaminated clothing. Seek medical attention if you develop severe symptoms like a rash or contact dermatitis.

3. How long do pesticides stay in the body?

Most pesticides have a low half-life of around 16 days, while some may go as high as 60 days or older. For example, some pesticides, such as DDT, may last several years, though this is rare.

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