Bed bugs are some of the most resilient pests around. Not only are they hard to eliminate due to their uncanny ability to hide in the smallest of spaces, but when traditional methods are used, an infestation can take months to eradicate. These hardships have caused many people to turn to unhealthy and unsafe practices to get rid of their bed bug problem. The truth of the matter is, traditional pesticides don’t work as the main method of bed bug elimination.
Pesticides were one of the first used treatments for bed bugs and were proven effective in the beginning. Historically, some of the most effective and accessible pesticides include DDT and other pyrethroid insecticides, pyrrole insecticides, and synthetic pyrethroids. However, over the past few decades, these methods have been proven to be both dangerous and increasingly less ineffective.
The environmental impact of using pesticides goes far beyond what many people realize. Pesticides can have potentially lethal implications for both humans and the environment. Pesticides can remain in the soil and water for an extended period and continue to affect humans and animals far beyond their initial use. According to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, 9 out of the 12 most dangerous and persistent chemicals are pesticides. Most of these chemicals are neurotoxins, which interfere with normal nerve function in nearly all living organisms. While most pesticides have some (small) value for bed bug treatment, even those pesticides registered by the EPA for use against bed bugs have been linked to some severe health risks.
It’s important to realize that these dangerous substances are widely available to the public and still used by some pest professionals. If you carefully inspect the bottle of one of these readily available pest sprays, you will likely find a caution label with wording like this:
Do NOT apply any insecticide or pesticide to mattresses or to any surface that comes in direct contact with a person, unless the label instructions specifically state that the product can be applied in that manner. Some products can be harmful to people, pets, the environment, and your home.
READ and UNDERSTAND the instructions and warnings on the label of any pesticide you purchase. THE LABEL IS THE LAW!!
Many of these dangerous poisons are not only unsafe for use around humans, they may not even have been tested for bed bugs specifically—even if bed bugs are mentioned on the label. Furthermore, these chemicals typically have to be sprayed directly on the bug to be effective in killing it, which naturally leaves many areas in your home untreated, and protects any hidden bed bugs, eggs, and nymphs from your extermination efforts. When the first application is proven to be ineffective, frustration and desperation will often kick in and people will begin to pour more and more pesticides into their homes in the hopes of solving their distressing bed bug problem.
This overuse of pesticides can lead to serious health issues, both immediately and in the future. Children are even more vulnerable to these effects, and long-term exposure can result in more severe reactions.
Health Effects of Pesticide Use:
- Pesticide poisoning – symptoms similar to a cold or the flu
- Throat, nose, and skin irritation – symptoms include stinging, itching, burning, coughing, breathing issues, rashes, and more
- Nausea, dizziness, and diarrhea
- Asthma flare-ups
- Cancer and tumors – including leukemia, lymphoma, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and others
- Brain and nervous system damage
- Birth defects and infertility
- Hormone imbalances – can lead to spontaneous abortion, birth defects, infertility, and sterilization
- Liver, kidney, lung, and other organ damage, and even failure
In part two of this series, we will consider in more depth why pesticides aren’t effective at exterminating bed bugs and are therefore misused by DIYers and professionals alike. Plus, we will share the very simple solution to your bed bug woes and explain how you can provide better quality treatments for your family, business, or customers.