The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory alert of national concern regarding misuse of pesticides to treat infestations of bed bugs. Over a four year period, 129 people suffered mild or serious health effects (including one death) from misuse of bed bug pesticides. Don’t become a statistic!
The vast majority of problems were caused by do-it-yourself application of pesticides in excess of the amount recommended on the label, application of the incorrect pesticide, application of outdoor pesticides in an interior location, application of pesticides where they came in direct contact with skin. One mother contacted the National Pesticide Information Center describing her infant who developed vomiting and diarrhea after being placed on a mattress treated with an undiluted indoor insecticide!
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) warns that outdoor pesticides should not be used indoors under any circumstances. Homeowners and applicators should always carefully read the product label to make sure that:
- It has an EPA registration number
- It is intended for indoor use
- It is effective against bed bugs (the label should say it is meant to be used to treat your home for bed bugs) and
- You know how to properly mix the product (if a concentrate) and where and how to apply it safely within the home.
ATSDR also warns:
Consumers should also be aware of recent cases where licensed and unlicensed pest control applicators illegally sprayed outdoor pesticides indoors to control bed bugs. In some cases, these pesticides were found at levels that harmed or could have harmed people’s health. In some cases, residents were relocated until their homes could be decontaminated.
Symptoms of pesticide poisoning include headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and muscle tremors.
If you believe you or a family member has become ill from a pesticide exposure: Call your local poison control center: 1-800-222-1222, your local hospital emergency room, or the National Pesticide Information Center at 1-800-858-7378. You can also call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Information Line at 1-800-CDC-INFO for information about pesticides.