According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), studies suggest that 80 percent of most people’s exposure to pesticides occurs inside homes and that an increase of up to a dozen pesticides have been found in the air indoors.
The amount of pesticides found in homes can be caused by contaminated soil or dust that floats or is tracked in from outside, stored pesticide containers, and pesticides applied indoors. Some health effects can include irritation to eye, nose, and throat; damage to central nervous system and kidney; and increased risk of cancer. Symptoms may include headache, dizziness, muscular weakness, and nausea. Go to the EPA web page on Pesticides.
Taking steps to eliminate pests in your home without pesticides is preferred; though, if that’s not possible, there are several tips for when pesticides must be used.
You can use integrated pest management (IPM) in your home to prevent pests, reducing the need for chemical pesticides. To find advice about reducing pesticide use in your home and preventing pests with IPM, visit the National Pesticide Information Center.
Steps to Prevent Pests in Your Home:
- Work to eliminate whatever is causing pests to appear in your home (food, water, shelter, entryways).
- Use caulk, screens, door sweeps and other barriers to keep pests out.
- Remove clutter under sinks, in garages and other places where pests like to hide.
- Clean up food spills and use trash cans with a lid.
- Clean under appliances and store pet food and human food in tight plastic containers.
If You Use Pesticides, Follow These Tips:
- Read the label first. Follow the directions as they are written on the label before using a product.
- Crawl around on your hands and knees to see if you’ve missed any potential dangers from your child’s viewpoint.
- Use child-resistant packaging correctly by tightly sealing the container after every use.
- Install safety latches on cabinets.
- Re-close a pesticide package if ever interrupted during application (e.g., phone call, doorbell, etc.). Make sure the container is completely out of children’s reach while you’re absent.
- Teach children that “pesticides are poisons” and not to be touched.
- Lock up all pesticides and harmful products in a cabinet, out of a child’s reach.