If you utilize the services of a pest control company, you probably assume that the products they use are at least somewhat toxic. After all, their purpose is to eliminate (kill) unwanted pests like bugs, spiders, and rodents. But did you know that there are actually three levels of toxicity when it comes to pesticides?
In the United States, all pest control products are regulated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This agency is given their authority by Congress through legislation like the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The EPA has established three very clear categories of toxicity for pesticides, making it simple for pest control companies and consumers alike to accurately compare products.
Category I products are the most toxic and contain a “Danger” or “Danger-Poison” label—sometimes accompanied by a skull and crossbones icon. These products require pest control technicians to wear coveralls, gloves, protective eyewear, and a respiratory device to keep the products from coming in contact with their skin or eyes, or from being inhaled. Category II pesticides are labeled “Warning” and are less toxic than Category I products, but still require those applying them to wear some personal protective equipment. Category III products, labeled “Caution,” only require technicians to wear long sleeves, pants, socks, and chemical-resistant footwear.
Chase Massey, owner of Knockout Pest Control in Temecula, California says,
At Knockout Pest Control, we select the products we use very carefully. We do our research and choose the least toxic products that are still effective in getting rid of pests that are common to the Temecula, Murrieta, and Fallbrook areas.”
Massey continued, “The majority of the products we use fall in Category III, which means they are only slightly toxic or relatively nontoxic to humans and pets. Even so, we take great care in the application to keep everyone in your household safe. We apply pest control products very strategically and carefully follow all of the safety guidelines related to each product.”
If you have small children or pets at home and are concerned about them being exposed to highly toxic pesticides, make sure you ask your pest control technician what level of pesticides they are using. If you are purchasing pesticides off the shelf, you can check the labels for yourself and choose the products that you are most comfortable with.
Just because a product is in Category III doesn’t mean it isn’t effective against unwanted pests. Do your research and look for products, or pest control companies using products, that will eliminate pests, without unnecessarily exposing you to highly toxic chemicals. A good pest control company should be able and willing to give you details on the products they use and offer you less toxic options if you have concerns.
If you are applying pesticides on your own, make sure you are always carefully following the application guidelines listed on the label. Even the least toxic of pesticides can be dangerous if used incorrectly.