According to a recent survey, 75 percent of U.S. households used at least one pesticide product indoors during the past year. Products used most often are insecticides and disinfectants. Another study suggests that 80 percent of most people's exposure to pesticides occurs indoors and that measurable levels of up to a dozen pesticides have been found in the air inside homes. The amount of pesticides found in homes appears to be greater than can be explained by recent pesticide use in those households; other possible sources include contaminated soil or dust that floats or is tracked in from outside, stored pesticide containers, and household surfaces that collect and then release the pesticides. Pesticides used in and around the home include products to control insects (insecticides), termites (termiticides), rodents (rodenticides), fungi (fungicides), and microbes (disinfectants). They are sold as sprays, liquids, sticks, powders, crystals, balls, and foggers.
In 1990, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that some 79,000 children were involved in common household pesticide poisonings or exposures. In households with children under five years old, almost one-half stored at least one pesticide product within reach of children.
EPA registers pesticides for use and requires manufacturers to put information on the label about when and how to use the pesticide. It is important to remember that the "-cide" in pesticides means "to kill". These products can be dangerous if not used properly.
In addition to the active ingredient, pesticides are also made up of ingredients that are used to carry the active agent. These carrier agents are called "inerts" in pesticides because they are not toxic to the targeted pest; nevertheless, some inerts are capable of causing health problems.
Sources of Pesticides
Products used to kill household pests (insecticides, termiticides, and disinfectants). Also, products used on lawns and gardens that drift or are tracked inside the house.
Pesticides are classed as semi-volatile organic compounds and include a variety of chemicals in various forms. Pesticides are chemicals that are used to kill or control pests which include bacteria, fungi, and other organisms, in addition to insects and rodents. Pesticides are inherently toxic.
Irritation to eye, nose, and throat; damage to central nervous system and kidney; increased risk of cancer. Symptoms may include headache, dizziness, muscular weakness, and nausea. Chronic exposure to some pesticides can result in damage to the liver, kidneys, endocrine and nervous systems.
Both the active and inert ingredients in pesticides can be organic compounds; therefore, both could add to the levels of airborne organics inside homes. Both types of ingredients can cause the type of effects discussed in Household Chemicals/Products. However, as with other household products, there is insufficient understanding at present about what pesticide concentrations are necessary to produce these effects.
Exposure to high levels of cyclodiene pesticides, commonly associated with misapplication, has produced various symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, muscle twitching, weakness, tingling sensations, and nausea. In addition, EPA is concerned that cyclodienes might cause long-term damage to the liver and the central nervous system, as well as an increased risk of cancer.
There is no further sale or commercial use permitted for the following cyclodiene or related pesticides: chlordane, aldrin, dieldrin, and heptachlor. The only exception is the use of heptachlor by utility companies to control fire ants in underground cable boxes.
Steps to Reduce Exposure
Use strictly according to manufacturer's directions.
Mix or dilute outdoors.
Apply only in recommended quantities.
Increase ventilation when using indoors. Take plants or pets outdoors when applying pesticides/flea and tick treatments.
Use non-chemical methods of pest control where possible.
If you use a pest control company, select it carefully.
Do not store unneeded pesticides inside home; dispose of unwanted containers safely.
Store clothes with moth repellents in separately ventilated areas, if possible.
Keep indoor spaces clean, dry, and well ventilated to avoid pest and odor problems.
Read the label and follow the directions. It is illegal to use any pesticide in any manner inconsistent with the directions on its label.
Unless you have had special training and are certified, never use a pesticide that is restricted to use by state-certified pest control operators. Such pesticides are simply too dangerous for application by a non-certified person. Use only the pesticides approved for use by the general public and then only in recommended amounts; increasing the amount does not offer more protection against pests and can be harmful to you and your plants and pets.
There are some companies that make green pesticides. I know that Home Depot carries some products or you could look for online companies, but just to let you know that they are available.