Bed Bug Remediation: The Misuse of Pesticides - Part 1

Bed bugs are some of the most resilient pests around.  Not only are the hard to eliminate due to their uncanny ability to hide in the smallest of spaces, when traditional methods are used, an infestation can also 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.  These methods have been proven to be both dangerous and ineffective over the past few decades.

Dangerous Chemicals

The environmental impact of using pesticides goes far beyond what many people realize.  Pesticides can have potentially lethal implications for 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 Convection in Persistent Organic Pollutants, 9 out of 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 treatments, even 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 still available to the public and used by some pest professionals.  If you carefully inspect the bottles for these readily available pest sprays, you will find caution labels with wording similar to:

Do NOT apply any insecticide or pesticide to mattresses or to surfaces that would be 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 to your home.                  

READ and UNDERSTAND the instructions and warnings on the label.  THE LABEL IS THE LAW!!

Many of these dangerous poisons are not only not safe for use around humans, and they may not even be tested for bed bugs specifically, even if bed bugs are mentioned on the label.  Many times these chemicals must be sprayed directly on the bug for it to be effective in killing them.  That leaves many areas untreated, and any hidden bed bugs, eggs and nymphs are left completely protected from your DIY efforts.  Frustration and desperation will often kick in and many people will begin to pour more and more pesticides into their homes in the hope that their bed bug problem will be solved.

This overuse of pesticides can lead to serious health issues, both immediately and in the future.  Children are even more vulnerable to these effects than adults are, and long term exposure can result in more severe effects. 

Health Effects Of Pesticide Use:

  • Pesticide poisoning – symptoms similar to colds 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 & tumors - including leukemia, lymphoma, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and others
  • Brain and nervous system damages
  • Birth defects and infertility
  • Hormone imbalances – can also result in spontaneous abortions, birth defects, infertility and sterilization
  • Liver, Kidney, lung and other organ damages and even failure

In part two of this series, we will look into more of the reasons why pesticides aren’t effective and therefore misused by DIYers and professionals alike.  Plus we will cover the simple solution and ways you can provide better quality treatments for your family, business or customers.