By Leon Bethune

Concerned about bed bugs or other pests in your home? The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention want to remind everyone not to use pesticides that are meant to be used outdoors inside. Even pesticides that are approved for indoor use can cause harm if over applied or not used as instructed on the product label.

What can you do to keep your family safe and pest-free?

1. Consider hiring a licensed and certified pest control expert to thoroughly inspect your home. It is important to accurately identify the pest because many insects look alike. Some pest treatments won’t work if used on the wrong insect.  A pest management professional may use a combination of chemical and non-chemical treatments based on the pest’s life cycle and where the pest prefers to live.  When using a pest control professional, ask:

  • To see the professional’s certification;
  • About the specific steps they take to treat infestations;
  • For the brand name of the pesticide and its active ingredient in case you or a family member gets sick from exposure to the product; and
  • To read the label of the pesticide to make sure it is safe for indoor use.

2. If you are applying chemicals yourself, read the product label! Before you use any pesticide inside your home make sure that:

  • It has an EPA registration number;
  • It is intended for indoor use;
  • You know how to properly mix the product (if a concentrate) and where and how to apply it safely within the home; and
  • You follow the instructions carefully!

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.

If you believe your pet has become ill from a pesticide exposure:

Contact your local veterinarian or call the National Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435. 

To report a possible pesticide misuse:

Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency. You can state specific contact information at: http://www.npic.orst.edu/reg/state_agencies.html

Think you may have bed bugs in your home?

Bedbugs (scientific name Cimex Lectularius) are small reddish-brown wingless insects, less than a quarter of an inch long, and shaped like flattened ovals. They usually ride into a home on used or second-hand furniture or luggage. They hide in narrow spaces, including the folds of mattresses, cracks and gaps in furniture, behind hanging pictures or loose wallpaper, under rugs, and behind baseboards. At night, they come out to feed and bite any exposed areas such as the neck, arms, shoulders, and hands.

Prevent Bedbugs!

There are several things that you can do to reduce the chances of a bedbug infestation:

  • Never pick up furniture or luggage left at the curb for trash collection and avoid buying second-hand furniture or luggage.
  • Request a rental pre-inspection by the Boston Inspectional Services Department by calling 617-635-5322.
  • Seal any cracks or holes in walls, ceilings, and floors.

Get more information about bed bugs here.

Leon is the director of BPHC’s Environmental Health Division. Meet Leon here.

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